Thursday, August 02, 2007

Icepick For Your Ear, Sir?

I usually get sick once a year, maybe twice. Ironically, I have been healthy all this year, even though I now work in a seething cesspool of airborne viral malice. I had always heard that if you do get a cold, you shouldn't fly, because your ears are unable to equal out pressure-wise, and cause you dire pain. 'Icepick' is the word they always use. "Man, my ears hurt so bad, it was like an icepick going in my ear." I got to experience this first hand a few days ago, with the addition of my first head cold while being an FA.
It is actually like icepicks being put in your ears. Not being mercifully pounded in, like with a mallet. I mean slid in, mean and slow. I went through a thought process similar to the one that helped me determine I was stuck in an elevator that time:

EARS: Pain.
ME: Ow, OK. That hurts. But I can keep going.
EARS: Pain.
ME: Oh, HEY. That's bad. That really... no, I can keep going...
ME: Maybe I oughtta sit down...
ME: Maybe I oughtta lie down...
ME: Coma sounds good.

I even tried the Valsalva maneuver, to limited success. Antonio Valsalva was a scientist in the 17th century who discovered that if you pinched your nose and blew really hard, you could make your ears explode. It didn't contribute much to science back then, because gondolas are not pressurized, but these days it can help you equal out reticent ears. Sometimes. I say I achieved limited success because when I tried it, I cleared one ear and exploded the other one. So for the rest of the trip I could hear EEEEEEEEEEE only on my left side.
Flying with a cold is not on my list of things to do again soon.


Blogger Clarence said...

I had a super bad cold/flu/sinus infection or whatever it was when I was touring at this time last year. Sweet merciful Lord, congestion on an airplane is the most excruciating thing, and it's unrelenting. The descent feels as if it is many days long.
I was just getting over a cold when I flew again last week (for the same gig), and I almost avoided it. Unfortunately, the descent proved that I was indeed still clogged, and I lost hearing in my left ear for the better part of the day.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I just can't stop laughing at this! L.M.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Indigeaux said...

Alas, I have this problem every freakin' time I fly. No cold, no nuthin', just excruciating pain for the last 45 minutes of the flight. (I detest trips without a direct flight). I never had this issue until (unexplainably) it happened once when I was 19, and (WHAMO!) now I'm cursed.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

I've seen a photograph of a fighter pilot who flew with sinus congestion. The pressure had to go somewhere. His sinuses exploded forward out of his face. And I'm not talking nose.

6:24 PM  

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