The night shift at camp.

I crawled back into bed at 2:30 AM after attending to the ear ache camper.

I had quickly tossed my PJ t-shirt on, slipped on my flip flops and scurried quietly along the hall and down the stairs to the health office. I found a couple of bleary eyed looking counselors, Adam and Jake, sitting on chairs beside Collin, a ten year old, who was crying quietly and holding his left ear. Jake got up and gave me his seat which I took and sat down beside Collin and gently placed my hand on his back.

“When did the pain start, buddy?”

“The second day of camp,” Collin whispered. “It has just gotten worse and worse everyday. It got really bad tonight when I was sleeping and I rolled over on it. And then I had all this gross stuff come out onto my pillow. It freaked me out.”

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I gave his back a little rub. I noticed a bit of drainage from his ear. I got up and unlocked the office and motioned for him to follow me in. The threesome joined me. Collin had a seat on the chair in the middle of my office and the two counselors hopped up onto the examination table. I grabbed my otoscope and a thermometer. I popped the thermometer in Collin’s mouth to cook while I had a gander in his ears. There was obvious drainage from his left ear and when I had a look inside it was pretty clear, even to me, that his eardrum had ruptured. His right side looked fine. The thermometer beeped at that point. I pulled it out of Collin’s mouth and noted he did have a low grade fever.

“Well, my friend, it looks like you ruptured your eardrum.”

“Oh man!!” Adam whistled. 

“That was why the gunk was coming out of your ear. Did you notice the terrible pain kinda went away when that happened?”

Collin nodded.

“That was the pressure from infection causing all the pain. When the tissue ruptures, the infection drains, and the pain lessens.”

Collin nodded again. “Will I have to have a surgery?” 

“I don’t think so,” Collin looked visibly relieved. “It looks pretty small. But, I am thinking that you will need to see the camp doctor, so I will call in the morning and see if we can arrange that. You probably need antibiotics. In the meantime I can give you some acetaminophen for the pain. Unfortunately you will not be able to swim though.” I made a grimace thinking of all the water based activities that Collin would have to pass on.

Collin’s eyes widened. “I can’t swim at all?”

“Not until the doctor says it has healed up.” I shook my head. Adam and Jake hung their heads. “And…I am not sure how long that will be but I would guess a couple of weeks maybe.” I shrugged.

“YES!” Collin pumped his fist in triumph. Adam and Jake looked at each other in surprise and then laughed.

“OK…I guess that you are not a big swimming fan then?” I laughed.

“I really wanted to take archery but my Mum made me sign up for swimming instead. I hate the cold water and I am scared of a turtle attack.” Collin explained.

“Really? A turtle attack? That happens?” I asked giving Collin a skeptical look over my shoulder as I opened the medication cupboard and reached for the chewable acetaminophen.

“We do have a snapping turtle who hangs out around the L dock on the beach and he has been spotted by the fishing dock. We call him Sheldon.” Adam offered. 

“Adam, do you think that they will let me switch to archery?” Collin asked.

“That shouldn’t be a problem. I will make sure it happens for ya, Collin. But…can I ask you a favor?”

“A favor? From me? What?” Collin asked obviously confused.

“Can I look at your ruptured eardrum?” Adam asked with his hands clasped begging. 

“Me too please. That would be sooooo cool!” piped up Jake.

Collin and I exchanged a puzzled look!


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