I SPENT the night on my mum’s futon, two kids glued to me with their sweat (not pee, thankfully). One is wedged into my armpit and the other is resting the dead weight of his bony skull on my ‘good’ ear. All I can hear is my own heartbeat. And then he starts to grind his teeth…
I think somewhere before daybreak that I hope my ‘bad’ ear – a bit red and sore – will be fine tomorrow.
Instead, it worsens until I can’t hear out of it at all, except for an occasional, painful, hissing pop. It feels like a malevolent, spiky spirit has taken up residence in there and every so often jabs his pitchfork into a nerve ending that shoots all the way down to my jaw.
Apparently the ear canal is swollen shut. And by the second day, even talking seems like an arduous task.
The kids love this. They play around me, the sloth-like woman with no stern admonitions as they tip more and more toys out around me. They upend box after box, check for a reaction and then, when no lecture is forth coming, they cuddle me, hold my hand and stroke my back, suddenly aware how hurt I am.
Aside from the pain, I love this… a chance to be still. Be quiet. An excuse to live inside my own head without interruption from the outside world. An ailment that takes my mouth and gently winds it shut like a watermelon stand annex at the onset of winter.
I clean the house, write a blog, do my work, pay my bills, all very quietly. It all seems serene until the codeine wears off. After that, I’m a puckered, cooing mess of a child… wishing someone else were able to do the cleaning and the working and the silent-yelling at the kids to pick up their toys.
People say ailments or health troubles often correlate with stresses in our lives and I wonder, does my ear thing have to do with countless conversations I’ve had recently? There have been days where I get so sick of the sound of my own voice yet somehow I cannot seem to shut up. There’ve also been moments when I realise I’m indulging someone else’s bullshit, listening intently to what I’m sure are un-truths. Am I listening too hard to others? Am I mouthing off too much myself?
Will writing this blog make things even worse?!
I seem to notice more in this state… the paramedic speeding past that is pinching the bridge of his nose. An older, Asian woman wearing a t-shirt that says ‘dance 4 life’ but looks decidedly pissed off. Dancing has got to be the last thing on her mind.
Are they having bad days too, am I catching them in their ‘humanness’? The people they are when no one is meant to be looking? When life has blindsided them with a double shift or their pension hasn’t gone in?
While I love seeing people like that, I do wonder what I look like from the outside… I’ve lost my ‘hustle and bustle’ and without it, I suspect I look like an aimless housewife. Potentially ‘good for nothing’ … who probably lets her kids run amok, lets her dark roots grow out. Who spends her centrelink payments on jewellry from Diva. Who smells like Winnie Blues.
What do you think you look like on your worst day?