Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stick It In Your Ear – Part Deux

Oh boy, you’d think that what happened a few months ago wouldn’t happen again so soon. What am I talking about? I don’t know if you remember this post: http://aboutlifeandrunning.blogspot.com/2011/03/stick-it-in-your-ear-with-flattery.html. This time though, no flattery was involved. What I’m talking about is another piece of earplug broke off and got stuck in my ear, this time in the left ear! What the heck?! Has the quality of these rubber earplugs gotten worse? Until this year, this has never happened to me and I’ve been using those types of earplugs for more than 10 years. When I woke up last week, I felt some pressure in my left ear but didn’t make the connection right away. Then I had a déjà vu moment, then disbelief. I looked in the mirror to see the location and depth of the rubber piece but it was difficult because of the angle. I took another hand held mirror and positioned it ala a sideways periscope. It was then that I could see how the piece was lodged in my left ear. Like a few months ago, I attempted to pull it out with tweezers but with the used of two mirrors, my depth perception was altered. Before calling the doctor for an appointment, I tried looking for a couple of neighbors to ask them if they could use the tweezers to pull the object out. But all of them were still at work. My next attempt to dislodge it was turning my head sideways and pound it with the palm of my hand, kinda like when you try to remove water from your ear after swimming. It didn’t work the first time but I persisted. The second time, I felt the rubber tip get a little loose. With a little help from the tweezers and two mirrors, I was finally able to take it out! Whew! With a little bit of luck, I was able to save myself a doctor’s visit this time.
So what do I do now about blocking out the noise during my sleep? I just bought a dozen of those rubber earplugs a few months ago but now I’m wary about using them. Maybe I’ll try one of those noise reducing industrial ear muffs. I found one at Harbor Freight Tools for $2.99. There were more expensive ones but I thought I’d try the cheap one first to see how it works when I’m in bed.
 Let me digress for a second. At the check stand of the Harbor Freight Tools store, there was a woman behind me who looked familiar but I wasn’t sure if she was the one  I used to run with the Runner’s High Club in the late 80’s and early 90’s. So I turned around and asked her “Is your name Jade?”. She said yes, and I introduced myself. Fortunately she remembered who I was after hearing my name. I certainly hoped she remembered me. After all, after one of Runner’s High’s track workouts, we drove together to Long Beach Memorial Hospital to visit Cindy, a teammate who was in a coma due to a car accident. I asked Jade if she  was still running. She said yes. Then I told her about the situation with my ankles and that because of it, I couldn’t run any more. She said she would die if she wouldn’t be able to run. I told her that I’ve survived so far without it. I then asked her about her husband and she said he doesn’t run as much as before because he is getting older. I said “aren’t we all?”. After the short conversation I asked her to say hello to Joe, her husband, then bid her goodbye.

 Back to the earmuffs. While all this conversation was going on at the check stand, I happened to have a 20% off coupon and another coupon for a free LED flashlight. So my final cost for the earmuffs was only 2.60 plus tax. I tried wearing the earmuffs that night but I’m not sure if it helped because it didn’t block sound as well as the rubber earplugs, and it was a bit uncomfortable. So far, I’ve used it twice: once for night sleep, and another for day sleep after work. Because of the earmuff’s obtrusiveness, it’s hard to decide whether it really helps of not. Further testing is required.
I wonder if using one of those sound machines or white noise machines would work better instead of inserting something in or covering the ears? Well, here’s an update. I bought one of those machines, tried it twice, but it didn’t help me with my sleep since the noise around my building overpowered the white noise. So I returned it to the store. I may have to go back to the earplugs and replace them every few months before they get too brittle and break off again in my ear.

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