Polio survivors tended to be driven and capable, working very hard to overcome real challenges brought on by the disease.
Holocaust survivors tended to be driven, focused on finding a way to keep avoiding the traps which would swallow them and take their life.
Yesterday, I heard that many holocaust survivors took their own lives soon after the war ended. Once the fight was over, they fell out of survival mode and had to take stock of their lives. Their loved ones were gone, they were spent, the challenges ahead looked immensely foreboding, and they had seen things that haunted them.
Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS) has been a challenge for many polio survivors. The current thinking is that while they could push their body to adapt beyond the damage caused by the disease, even down to new nerve sprouts, that adaptation came at a cost. The body had to work beyond normal capacity and doing that for a long time leads to breakdowns, failures, handicaps returning.
We can push past trauma, no doubt, but the body keeps score. Transcending the challenges has a cost and in the end, it must be paid.
I have been struggling this week with an ear infection, the pain finally prompting me to ask for help in a way that I almost never do. I saw a glimmer of smarts in that context, but when problems continued, I was reminded of the challenges of doctors; they have to have a very short attention and retention span. It is just what the system demands.
In the end, while I got some information, I also got people missing the point of my problems. While cleaning out my ear helped, the problem was back the next day, never really having been addressed.
You have to be responsible for your own care is the lesson I was taught, and even be responsible for the others that you care about. Hitting the internet I was able to determine that my problem was not just buildup of ear wax but rather otitis externa, an infection of the outer ear canal. The doctor didn’t really get this, but the PA I saw just wrote for all bits, with an antibacterial ear drop (Cortisporin) and a prophylactic antibiotic (Cephalexin).
Doing the work, though, I found that neither of these was really appropriate. Because the weather is hot and humid and because the doctor didn’t see much skin irritation, my infection is probably fungal rather than bacterial. Antibacterials and antibiotics won’t help.
The best choice seems to be a solution of miconazole, an over-the-counter anti-fungal. The problem is that nobody makes much money prescribing it, so even the leading brand has stopped making the solution. You end up having to have to buy it as a veterinary preparation. It has helped many many dogs get over nasty fungal infections. I grew up with a Basset Hound, so I know about dogs and ear problems.
Doctors who have studied the problem for the Navy eventually discovered, after trying lots of fancy things, that the simplest solution is to change the Ph in the ear canal, making it more acidic. Fungus doesn’t like acid and neither does bacteria, for that matter.
White wine vinegar is milder than white vinegar so it is the go-to solution. It’s not a quick fix, as you have to keep up the treatments until the canal is clean rather than stopping when the pain stops, but that’s pretty standard.
I reached out because I was hurting. I got the best the medical system could offer. I saw hope and then I saw it evaporate. I had to find my own solution.
We push past challenges and find ways to address our own issues, to overcome and to survive. It is an awesome and admirable human trait.
Reaching out, though, we find that once we flag it is hard to find someone else to be there and to help. They are, as marketers will be very happy to tell us, immersed in their own challenges, their own routines, their own dramas.
In the end, we are all in this life alone. We have to be there for ourselves, pushing past and making things happen. And for that there is a price. A price.