Monday, October 14, 2002

My own silver chair

10/13/2002 9:34 PM

I write presently from 33,000 feet in the air, somewhere above upstate New York in an American Airlines 757. I feel human again. I can think straight again.

Just an hour and a half ago, I landed in Chicago, and discovered that what I thought was just the remnants of low-level sinus congestion was more than that. The congestion was enough to keep my ears from clearing, despite my best efforts (decongestant, gum-chewing, the Valsalva Maneuver ,sipping water) to help the pressure equalize.

This caused great discomfort, and very reduced hearing in my right ear. Before I had to board my next flight, I tried a last-ditch ear-clearing trick from previous bouts with clogged-head flying. I went to a Panda Express in O'Hare, ordered some spicy peanut chicken, and ate several Kung Pao peppers. Yes, those super-hot peppers that are there to flavor the chicken and get set aside. I ground them into pulp, letting the super-hoy seeds break up and give me the pepper-sprayed from within feeling. Nothing (except burning tongue, running eyes and nose...)

But now, back in the air again, in a low-pressure environment, I'm okay. The pressure never equalized in my ears, but as long as this plane remains at cruising altitude, I feel normal. The pain was so sharp, but now it is gone. Often after five hours of flying I am ready for my final landing of the day. But right now, I wish I was flying to Sydney instead of Providence.


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