Monday, September 27, 2010

Milky Milky

Driving back from FantasyCon the weekend before last, my right ear popped and began to ring slightly - a high pitched mixture between a hiss and a screech that doesn't seem to affect my hearing, but is just loud enough to be annoying. I thought nothing of it at the time; these things happen to me occasionally, and the ringing usually goes away after half an hour or so.

It was still there when I went to bed that night, but I was dog-tired after no sleep in Nottingham, so it didn't really bother me.

It was still there the next morning, and that was a worry. Many, many years ago, back when I was in short trousers, the Horse Doctor and I* went to visit a friend who was working in Amersfort in Holland. On the ferry over from Hull to Rotterdam, my right ear popped and went profoundly deaf. For the duration of the visit I had no hearing on that side at all. A friendly Dutch doctor, with perfect English that rather put my non-existent Dutch to shame, shone a torch in my ear and declared that a wax plug had formed and would need to be syringed out. This was finally done when I got home to Aberdeen, and for a few hours I had hearing in my right ear to rival that of Matt Murdock.** 

This time, however, my hearing seemed unaffected, there was just this annoying ringing. But reasoning that it might be a small wax build-up, I spent the next week putting warm olive oil in my ear before bedtime each night. This sounds rather strange, but is a recommended procedure. Just don't use the oil for cooking afterwards. Or salad dressing. Unless you like really bitter salad dressing.

But a week on and my ear was still singing, so I finally gave up and took it to see the doctor. She confirmed that there was no wax build-up, but suggested there might be a bit of a fluid build up in the inner ear. These things can take a while to clear, and according to her one common antagonist is milk.*** Milk, she told me, is also implicated in testicular cancer, is full of growth hormones and oestrogen and ought to come with a health warning on it. It's fine for children, up to a point, but adults really have no need of it. From an intellectual point of view, this argument has a certain merit. Milk is, after all, designed for infants. And cow's milk is designed for infant cows. It really is very strange the way us adults continue to lap it up when we wouldn't dream of demanding it from our own mothers. Nor, I suspect, would many of us try to suckle a cow.

So for the next fortnight I am to forswear all milk and see if it improves things. It didn't occur to me to ask at the time of my consultation, but I now assume by 'milk' my doctor actually meant 'all products deriving from the exudations of the udder of a cow.' So butter and cheese are probably best avoided too. And milk chocolate. And, it appears, digestive biscuits. I can have no lattes and my tea will have to be flavoured with lemon, or taken black. I am even now wading my way through a coffee as dark and sticky as treacle which, though made from decaffeinated beans will probably have me climbing the walls soon.

Breakfast will be interesting, since my preferred muesli-lubricant is half pint of full-fat. My mum used to use Innocent Smoothies as an alternative, but until I can get to the shops I may have to try fruit juice. Porridge is out of the question, as making it without milk and serving it without cream are two unforgivable crimes against humanity. Lunchtime's cheese sandwich will have to give way to perhaps a boiled egg and some salad. Supper's creamy pasta dishes and white-sauce laden lasagnes will have to go. If nothing else I should lose a bit of weight.

I recall from my travels in the Far East, even longer ago than my ill-heard visit to Holland, that a common complaint amongst the natives of that region is that us Westerners smell strangely sour to their senses, tainted as we are by our infatuation with milk. As I embark upon this self-imposed diet, it will be interesting to see if my friends start sitting a little closer.

I'm going to miss my cheese, though. Life's hardly worth living without it.

* Except that at the time she wasn't even the Horse Student.
** AKA Daredevil, the man without fear. I suggest you read the comic book, currently being written by Andy Diggle, rather than watching the terrible film with Ben Affleck and Jennifer 'Electric Nachos' Garner.
*** yes, we got there eventually.



Blogger Laura Paine Carr said...

It's mid-afternoon: time for coffee, and I like mine with cream. Having grown up on a dairy, I have always, and still do, L-O-V-E the entire dairy food-group. And I have stopped eating it as well, to find all sorts of benefits, like joints that work better, pounds melting away, etc etc.

Bummer. And Oh Good! You will always love your cheese. Perhaps (I hate this word) moderation will be your new protocol?

September 27, 2010 11:39 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Everything in moderation, Laura. Especially moderation!

September 28, 2010 7:47 am  

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