My husband is self-employed, and our insurance is about as expensive and about as useless as it comes. On top of our exorbitant monthly premiums, we have to pay for every doctor visit (minus, of course, the $12 or so that our insurance company generously covers. It's like a reverse co-pay.). Therefore, we don't go to the doctor unless we've lost a limb, or maybe an eye. Everything else we hope will heal on its own. We've learned a couple of lessons during this time of self-treatment, which I'll gladly share with you.
The Body Has a Tremendous Ability to Heal Itself
Take my daughter's recent pimple episode. No, I'm not talking about a teenage zit. This was a pimple on a six-year-old's eye. Not a stye, mind you...it looked like a large, red pimple on her eyeball. Now, most mothers would have immediately rushed their daughter to the doctor. But most mothers don't have a) our poor excuse for health insurance and b) a daughter who's as tough as nails. This girl can withstand pain that would bring Schwarzenegger to his knees. I expect that she'll have many children, because for her, childbirth will be like some gas pain that lingers for a few minutes and results in a baby.
The pimple appeared one morning when my daughter woke up. Together, my daughter, my eight-year-old son and I debated about what to do. We determined that she was just fine, and off to school they went. Now, before you pick up the phone to call Social Services, know that her eye didn't hurt, and the pimple didn't affect her vision. But that doesn't mean I didn't worry. Naturally, I hopped on Google, looking for some comforting post about a child with a similar affliction. But there was nothing. So I worried. I watched. I waited. I took a picture of the affected eye every morning, hoping there would be some progress, some comparison I could make that showed that the pimple was going away, and that it wasn't some cancer on her eye that was going to cause her to go blind at any moment. More than once I began to dial our doctor's phone number, but then I'd remember the recent visits for other illnesses in which the doctor politely suggested that we administer ibuprofen and slapped us with a bill for a couple hundred dollars (minus $12).
After four days, the pimple went away without incident. I'm hoping it's the last pimple we see until she hits puberty.
The Internet Contains Some Bad Advice
News flash: don't follow all the advice you read on the Web. I have an ear infection that's lasted for, oh, six months, which would probably qualify it as "chronic." I've been suffering through a continuous cycle in which the pain improves, then worsens, then improves again. The one thing that hasn't changed throughout the infection is that I can't hear anything out of my right ear. I've grown tired of asking people to repeat themselves, so I'm starting to just guess what people say and then try to respond accordingly. I had lunch with my sister-in-law yesterday, and I'm pretty sure we discussed Thanksgiving plans, but I'm not positive about the specifics. I think she told me that she's hosting the dinner and that I'm to bring a salad, but for all I know, she could have said that her grandmother is hosting it and that I'm to bring a pie. Fortunately, they live close together and they're always happy with whatever anybody brings.
My research on ear infections from various sites such as WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and MothersHomeRemedies.com suggested everything from a warm compress to sticking a clove of garlic in my ear, and I've tried it all. That's the good thing about being at home alone during the day; no one says anything if you walk around with a clove of garlic sticking out of your ear. (It didn't work, by the way. Neither did the vinegar or the olive oil. But at least I have the makings of a great salad dressing.)
Most of what I found online about ear infections applies to children. Especially children who swim. I'm an adult who hates swimming, so how I even got an ear infection is a mystery. I did find some information on chronic ear infections in adults though, and some of the complications are scary: permanent hearing loss, bone infection, brain inflammation...the only comforting words I found were these: "not life threatening."
So I continue to suffer. But I just may have to empty my wallet and go to the doctor, because let's face it: I'm not nearly as tough as my daughter.