I'm a 31-year-old mom and preschool teacher, who is in generally good health. I haven't had an ear infection since I was a child. Then, last Monday night, my ear started to ache, following a cold/ sinus infection.
By midnight, my ear hurt so excruciatingly that I woke my husband and he drove me, crying, to the emergency room.
After a long wait, a doctor finally saw me. He said I had a middle ear infection and prescribed erythromycin (an antibiotic) and Vicoden for pain.
No sooner did I pick up my scrips, get home, and lay down again, than my eardrum burst!
It was amazingly painful (despite the fact that I was already doped up on Vicoden). There were several loud pops in my ear, which even my husband heard (he was two feet away) and then bloody pus began the drip out of my ear onto my pillow.
I called the hospital, but they told me I should just wait and see my doctor in the morning, because there wasn't much else they could do for me.
So, the next morning I got in to see my doctor, and he said I had a perforated ear drum. The pain was significantly less by this point, but the ear was still dripping, and I had a substantial hearing loss and a loud buzzing in my ear. The doctor prescribed a different antibiotic (Sulfa) and some eardrops, and told me to take a few days off from work, rest, and not let my ear get wet (in other words, I could not wash my hair!). He took a culture of the discharge from my ear, and made an appointment for me to come see him Thursday evening (this was Tuesday morning). So I rested all day Tuesday, and on Wednesday I tried to go to an evening class I'm taking at the community college. But once I got there I felt so dizzy, nauseated, and unwell that I left after an hour.
By Thursday I couldn't stand being greasy anymore, and so I decided to try to take a shower and wash my hair while holding a plastic bag over my ear to prevent water from getting in. This didn't work well, and my ear got wet anyway.
By mid-day Thursday, I noticed that my ear was no longer draining, although i still couldn't hear very well.
At my appointment that evening, the doctor said that the perforation on my eardrum had already closed up, but that there was STILL fluid behind it; the eardrum was bulging slightly.
I asked him if it was going to rupture again, and he said that was possible.
I was terrified, because that was really painful!
The doctor said the glands in my neck, under the chin, were very swollen, and also that my sinuses were congested and my tonsils looked inflamed. He did a strep test, which was negative. The culture from my ear, he said, had come back as "no growth", which just meant that it was no common type of bacteria that the lab was able to identify.
The doctor then prescribed yet ANOTHER antibiotic (my third in four days), Augmentin (875 milligrams), and told me to stop taking the others.
Friday I went back to work and managed to get through my day, feeling cranky and unwell, and disoriented because of my hearing loss.
Today (Saturday) some of my hearing has returned, but my sinus drainage and sore throat feel worse than ever, my glands are so swollen that they're visible in my neck, and I feel achy and exhausted, as if I've got a low-grade fever (i don't have a thermometer, so I can't check).
I have a follow-up visit scheduled for Monday evening; I can only hope things will have improved by then.
Adults, don't let anyone tell you that ear infections are just for children.
My past week has been a living hell, and I can only hope that I'll be feeling better in the coming days (especially since I've used up all my paid sick leave at work!
PS The doctor said that my hearing loss will probably not be permanent, but that it may take about two months to get back to normal!