Persistent swollen gland in the neck
Dennis has been having trouble with his neck and ear, and it's been dragging on and on. To quickly summarize part of the story, he's had a bad ear infection and I theorize that he got it in Kuwait.
The doctor has been a little slow figuring out exactly what's going on. Early in the fall just after the first Katrina relief trip, Dennis went to him, complaining that his ear hurt and had pressure in it, he had headaches that seemed to come up from the back of his head, and he had a little lump in his neck. Also, he told the doctor that he had been wearing earplugs to sleep at night and that he had seen blood on the earplugs one morning. The doctor looked at his ears, saw nothing wrong, and told him to stop using the earplugs. (Good advice, but there was much more wrong than that.)
Then Dennis went to New Orleans on Katrina relief, and while he was there, he had a bad fall off the back of the semi-trailer they were using for storage. (You grab the rope and step off the trailer, and the rope pulls the door down as you ride to the ground. Well, Dennis missed the rope.) He landed on his neck and shoulder and gave them a good jamming. The doctor -- a sports medicine specialist, as it happened-- who treated Dennis said that the lump in his neck seemed to be a pulled muscle which might explain the headaches, and that the anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers might help it. (This diagnosis was probably not right.)
Soon after that Dennis got home and went back to our doctor to have his neck and shoulder checked due to the accident and also pointed out to him that he still had this lump in his neck and a lot of discomfort. This time the doctor said the lump was a swollen lymph gland and it wasn't going to get well until Dennis quit feeling it all the time. (Once again, good advice, but the serious underlying problem remained undiagnosed.)
Finally a couple of weeks ago, Dennis went back and said, "Look, there's something wrong with my neck and head and ears and you have to figure out what it is." So that day, the doctor ordered a CT scan, and lo and behold, at last they discovered that Dennis had an ear infection that had developed into mastoiditis. The doctor prescribed a round of antibiotics and then a round of anti-inflamatory meds. Now the lymph gland is a little less swollen and the pain in Dennis's neck is better -- but still not gone. (Finally, a diagnosis and some semi-effective treatment.)
Today he went back to the doctor again, and now the doctor thinks that he may have some lingering nerve damage from his fall. He pressed on a nerve ending in his neck and Dennis said it about sent him through the ceiling. So now Dennis is taking a round of steroids to treat that. The first day he takes 6 pills, the second day 5, the third day 4, and so on. I guess the theory is to hit it with a bang and then taper off.
Dennis asked the doctor if there were any side effects to taking this drug, and the doctor said he could expect to be quite irritable. "Don't fire anybody," the doctor said. So I told Dennis that if he gets any customer complaints at work, he'd better let his boss handle them. Dennis on steroids -- oh, brother!
The doctor has been documenting the Workmen's Comp aspects of this so Dennis can get any benefits he might be entitled to, but I really hope that he's going to get over all this and feels OK again one of these days.