[ Working title: Torture on a shoestring ]
A couple of weeks ago on a normal, routine Tuesday morning, I did what I do every morning; showered, prepared for work and cleaned my ears out with a cotton wool bud. As I went to leave the bathroom, I swung my arms up and around to put my dressing gown back on for the short trip down the upstairs landing.
[ This requirement to be modestly covered up follows an unfortunate incident in April 2009 when my teenage daughter had a sleepover with three friends staying over. Apparently, one poor girl can not even look at a Chippolata sausage ever again. Needless to say, I conducted my own defence and was acquitted. Again. ]
Anyway, as I simulataneously hoisted both arms up to don my long, flowing, white, silk robe adorned with ‘MUFC - Champions 2008’ on the back, I felt pain. A lot of pain. Searing pain that made me feel quite dizzy. I paused for breath and suddenly realised I had inadvertently rammed a cotton wool bud, deep and hard, into my right ear.
It was so painful, I didn’t even shout, exclaim or swear. Instinctively, I reached for my right ear and gingerly extracted the cotton wool bud. I felt more pain. I clasped my hand over my ear and half expected my palm to be dripping in blood. Thankfully, there was no blood - just numbing pain.
I gingerly made my way back to my bedroom and sat down as I felt quite faint. After a few minutes, the pain subsided slightly to a constant, painful throb and I was able to get up and get dressed.
I am constantly amazed at the human body’s resilience and powers of natural healing so I just waited for the ear to heal. The next few days were quite interesting; the feeling was similar to what I would expect after standing adjacent to a 30 foot Marshall amp stack for the full 3 days of Glastonbury with slight loss of hearing, ringing, dull pain and various popping noises similar to the sensation you get when descending in a aircraft.
Eventually, Norma asked why I was popping Nurofen all day every day so I had to own up. As expected, she took great delight in my agony as she‘d always claimed ears were self-regulating organs and simply do not need to be cleaned daily with a blunt instrument which causes more harm than good. She showed me great sympathy by saying: ‘Well, I bet it was absolutely nothing like child birth.’
I pondered on this for a while and concluded she was right - I had merely rammed a very small, narrow foreign object into the human body via a small orifice with great force whereas childbirth consists of ejecting a natural body out of the human body via a, err, slightly larger orifice with moderate force. However, I decided it might be prudent to maintain a dignifed silence (in case she slapped me on the ear) and the very thought ot childbirth and bodily fluids made me feel slightly queasy again.
Days passed but the pain and odd sensations didn’t so I went to see my Doctor primarily as I had some concerns about flying in a plane with a perforated eardrum.
Inevitably, the consulation with my GP was livened up by me pretending not to hear when she opened up with ‘Now, Mr. Brightside, how can I help you today ?’ and I responded with ‘Sorry - what did you say ?’, ‘Pardon' and ‘Can you speak up a little ? I have a slight problem with my right ear.'
As I sheepishly confessed to my idiotic, self-inflicted act of stupidity, the Doctor listened attentively and nodded knowlingly - ‘Don’t worry Mr. Brightside. I’ve seen people who’ve inserted all sorts of things into all sorts of, err, irregular, places.’
Fair play to the lady GP. She immediately grabbed her menacing ear probe with the triangular metal end and integrated torchlight and responded with ‘OK then, let’s have a good look in ’ere’ and the odd ‘Ooh - what have we ’ere ?'.
She gently inserted her probe (soft porn SEO keyword search alert) and promptly reported the ear was too inflamed to see whether the ear drum was intact or perforated. She reassured me (sort of) by saying the cabin pressure in a plane wouldn’t be an issue if the eardrum was perforated as the air would simply ‘whistle straight through the hole'.
She then asked me if I had any other specific worries or questions and I replied ‘Not really - it’s mainly the prospect of flying. Oh and I did want to ask you about the leaking brain fluid…’ ‘Brain fluid ?’, she interjected in a serious tone. ‘Yes - when I wake up my pillow has all this yellow/brown-ish liquid where my head’s been resting and my wife, who is a qualified nurse, told me it was just my ‘brain fluid’ leaking out.’
‘Well - with respect, I think your wife might be mistaken or having a little joke. I’m pretty sure this is just residual fluid from the inflamed area as the body recovers but I’ll prescribe you some antibiotics which will help clear up the infection.'
The ear is now almost completely healed. I have thrown away the bumper pack of 240 ear buds although my right earbud now keeps falling out on when I listen to music on the train.
The memory of the ‘ear drum’ incident is now receding but I’m pretty sure intelligence agencies and the military could use this technique to produce a cheaper and much more efficient form of torture. Waterboarding is well publicised and effective but can get very messy and is very wasteful of a precious natural resource.
Imagine, in the next James Bond film, the baddie enters the interrogation cell armed - not with a large belt or a car battery and two electrical diodes - but simply brandishing a single cotton wool bud.