Grunge and goo and fed up.

Some people come back from overseas posts with beautiful Persian carpets, delicate ceramics and expensive thankyou gifts from their staff. Others come back with fat payouts in recognition of being in a hardship posting. Some come back with bonuses for completing their contracts. Most, at least, come back, with bottles of duty free whiskey. Even most aid workers come back and get a debriefing, a medical and sometimes a settlement grant to help with fitting in.

We came back with no settlement grant, no debriefing and no medical. I did however, in my last weeks in Kabul, pick up an enduring ear infection, duty free. It is now in its 14th week, and it shows no signs of fading. What a lovely memoir. Without being too graphic, the gooey ooze that has leaked from my ear the last month would be enough to ice a wedding cake with. My pillow gets crusted nightly with the discharge and in the morning looks like a snotted handkerchief. Friends have had to get used to me walking round with my head on one side, or with cotton tips poking out of my ears. My family have graciously gotten used to me being deaf and grumpy. But I have not got used to it, and today after seeing the specialist for a second time, I pulled over to the side of the road and found myself pretty weepy. I think it symptomatic of the strains of life in Afghanistan the last year. My dentist, last week, found that I have been grinding my teeth at night, which over the years has eroded my jawline, so I am now in danger of lockjaw. He attributes it to stress, which he gently suggested could be alleviated by not going back to Afghanistan, again.

Lock jaw and thick of ear. My very own Afghan take-home gift.

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7 thoughts on “Grunge and goo and fed up.

  1. Sadly I know first hand the effect that traumatic stress and post traumatic stress can have on an individual, happy for contact if you think it may help. I am acutely aware that I can offer very little tangible. Please be aware that there are people who you have never met, who do care about you and your family and who do ask Jesus to “make his face shine upon you”.

  2. Ouch, none of that sounds pleasant. I wonder why antibiotics aren’t helping with your ear infection. Has your doctor suggested using one of those harsh fast-acting antibiotics that make you retch your guts out for two days but kill any infection your body might be carrying? I got nasty pneumonia a few years ago and had to do that.

    If you’re tensing up your jaw during the day, try pressing your tongue hard against the roof of your mouth. You’ll likely hear a kind of weird popping sound after a few seconds and your jaw will relax. (I have TMJ, so I’ve been doing this for years). : /

  3. Hmmm. I brought back worms from Afghanistan. But not gooey ooze.

    And yes, many NGOs don’t seem to be too generous with post-deployment care. Mine was not too bad. I got a whole $300 for trauma counselling. But it cost a whole lot more.

    Hope you get better soon, big fella.

  4. you were indeed too graphic! i’m glad you had a chance to let go and weep – weeping can relieve many pressures including those found in the ear and around the jaw – best wishes to you and God’s other little sparrows!

  5. Take care of yourself, Phil. Re-entry’s a hell of a thing at the best of times, let alone with your ear melting. Thoughts and prayers going your way.

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