Looking at life... from an oblique angle / and I sometimes Twitter (normally only when riled up): @brindafella

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You know you're having a good/bad day when...

Several weeks ago my wife and I had a week at Coolangatta, at the southern (cool, as in climate) end of Australia's tourist strip of around 200km in length that runs from the "Gold Coast" to the "Sunshine Coast".

I got back to work to be told that I'd be the stand-in for a trip to Townsville to observe an activity for which our organisation has overall management, but in this case it would be 'observer' only -- all care and no responsibility for a change.

So, Wednesday last, I took an early flight of about 1 hour from Canberra to Sydney, then joined up with an expert (observer) from a sister organisation of ours, for the 3 hour flight to tropical Townsville.

Here's the rub! I'd had a bit of a head cold and had taken some antihystamine (to dry it up). When we were beginning the descent into Townsville I realised that I had a problem with my left ear. It was not 'coming down' with me. In fact, it was very definitely still way up there. No amount of wide yawns and "valsalvas" (inflating the Eustachian tubes to 'clear the ears') made any difference, and I didn't catch the eye of the flight attendant, and neither did I call... because.. I was trained in these techniques when I learned to fly, and so I KNOW what to do and HOW TO DO IT. So, I got a perferated eardrum! Yes, it hurt for a day! Yes, I had it looked at by an expert (a diving medic).

It was not such a big thing, really, because I got to go to sea in a lovely part of the world and observe some experts doing their thing expertly... which is always good for the soul.

Now, I will offer some advice.

Using the valsalva technique is too easy. Anyone can do it, but not everyone knows how and when to do it properly; It's not something that you should rely on if you're not properly trained. But... Wide-mouthed yawns can damage the hinge joints for the jaw. So, be warned and be careful. If you fly with a head-cold, it's much better to use the smelly 'sniffer' materials that airlines have.

I flew back on Friday and my ears cleared beautifully. I used the sniffer materials all the way, and popped my ears constantly.

My left ear will take a week or so to heal, and it's crackling every time I swallow that tells me I still have some muck and dried blood in there that'll take a few days to drain off.

Good days and... the other!

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