birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

For The Love of Music

I have scars that no one can see if they just look at me. Well, they can if they have an otoscope.

The first time my eardrum ruptured I was at a baseball game with my father and my godfather (or as I lovingly refer to him now, "the there is no godfather"). My godfather, a single man and regular drinker, assumed I was having a tantrum because I was bored and didn't want to be at the game. My dad obliged and we stayed. I don't remember much about that part of the events.


What I do remember is being taken to the ER, held down, screaming as my ear was flushed. The searing pain and sheer terror of the hospital and nurses is etched into my brain so clearly. I've had a distrust of both of my parents and hospital visits since then, even with my mother being a nurse. Tubes were placed and I carried on as normal after that.

The second time I remember my eardrum bursting I was 17 and my parents were enjoying a weekend in Las Vegas with their friends. I felt the infection start as a mild itch in the ear. Annoying but nothing too much. Within 3 hours I was on the floor of the bathroom retching, struggling with vertigo and in agonizing pain in my left ear.

I called my mom, as I wasn't sure what to do on a Saturday with no doctor available over the phone. Her reaction was to put a warm, wet compress on it and to calm down. She thought I was overreacting. I called my best friend's mom, a later to be found-out raging alcoholic neonatal nurse practitioner.

She came over and put a couple of drops in my ear that numbed it, although the intense pressure was still there. I was no longer in pain.

I decided I was well enough to go have a beer with a friend. Hey, while the cats are away the mice will play. As I took a sip of beer I felt a single white hot pain rip through my ear drum and heard an unsettling spurting noise in my ear.

I went to the bathroom to examine my ear and found a think trickle of blood coming out of it. I could no longer hear out of that ear clearly. I called my mom who confirmed my ear drum had just burst and that she had been wrong in her initial assessment. At that point the damage was done. I saw a doctor that Monday who informed me that I had developed a negative pressure (an uncommon affliction even for children with ear problems, let alone an almost-adult). A larger T-tube was placed into my ear, and has since been replaced several times, creating scars all over my ear drums.

New doctors comment on this as a matter of fact every time they check my ears during normal appointments.

What I have to say is that it has not been a 'matter of fact' experience. The agony of ear tube dysfunction is still not well known and although I'm grateful for having incredible health otherwise, I would not wish an ear drum bursting on my worst enemy. Well maybe someone really evil.

But those are my scars, hidden as they are.

Cardboard Sledding

See? A C-Section