I can’t remember a time when I was so sick or hurt that I couldn’t read. I read my way through a horrible bout of bronchitis in 2009, and I’ve read through personal crises and endless airport layovers and fourteen-hour days on dorm duty. I was reading Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay when my cat died and John Pipkin’s Woodsburner when my mom died. But this week I have met my match. On Tuesday of this week, a nurse in my doctor’s office accidentally perforated my eardrum while she was doing a routine ear cleaning. Unmedicated, the pain is unbearable – like an ear infection but so much worse. Ibuprofen helps the pain, but nothing prevents the constant loud ringing that is in the ear at all times. It’s like I have my own personal rattlesnake – right there all the time to keep me company.
The noise is the reason I can’t read much. I just can’t concentrate with this horrible insufferable noise in my head. I am reading Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees and am enjoying it – it’s Nabakovian, with a Kinbote-like unreliable narrator whose motivations are still mysterious to me – but I just can’t focus. Ditto for Watership Down and The Bohemians – they’re good books, but nowhere near as compelling as my imaginary rattlesnake.
It’s annoying to me how much I’m letting this eardrum thing get to me. People walk around with worse injuries every day, of course. I think the fact that I can’t focus on reading is one of the key reasons – or the single key reason – that I’m letting this injury depress me. Reading is my escape, and when I can’t access that escape I get angry and petulant.
Anyway, I’ll be back soon. I have lots to say about Redeployment, which I finished and loved, and am looking forward to starting The Orphan Master’s Son, The Human Body, and Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. My ear will stop screaming at me sooner or later, right?