By Friday morning, I still hadn’t seen any improvement on the condition of my ear, so I called my doctor and made another appointment to see him. He confirmed that little progress had been made, and arranged for me to see an ENT specialist that afternoon.

The ENT was very nice, even though I affectionately think of him now as Dr. Torquemada. After the requisite examination, he had my hearing tested to see how well the eardrums were responding, and then proceeded to vacuum out the wax buildup in my infected ear. If you’ve never had this done, it’s a somewhat uncomfortable procedure during the best of times — when the ear canal is infected and inflamed, it becomes an exquisite torture form. I clutched the armrests of the chair and resolutely refused to give them anything other than my name, rank, and serial number.

The doctor then proceeded to insert two “wicks” into my ear canal. These are designed to help the medicine (in the form of ear drops) actually get down through the swollen passage to where they need to go to be effective. I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to drive a pair of nails into the side of my skull. Now I know.

I left the ENT with three new prescriptions — two new kinds of antibiotics in drop form, and one painkiller. I stopped by Wal-Mart to have these filled on the way home.

24 hours later, I’m pleased to say that there’s now some real progress. I’m completely in a fog as a result of the painkiller, but it has taken the edge off the intense sharp shooting pain that I was suffering, and the new antibiotics seem to be kicking in. I hope by Monday I’ll actually feel vaguely like a human being again.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes and virtual hugs — they are greatly appreciated and a tremendous comfort to me.