Two years ago, I was in Austin – like many people are right now, for SXSW.

Except I was in the hospital, with a massive life-threatening ear infection and the doctors were deciding if I needed surgery of not.

When I say the words “life-threatening” in connection with an ear infection, people often laugh. I know, I would too… if I had not almost died several times over nine months after invasive strep-A took up residence in my mastoid bone.

Thursday night at SXSW is oddly clear in my memory; I was hanging at Ginger Man. I remember who I talked to that night, I remember having lunch with friends the next day, and then – I remember my ear hurting. By Saturday, I told Bryan we were going to the ER. After that, everything is a blur of needles and morphine.

I know I had surgery in a strange city while a few friends packed up my hotel for me. I know my husband had to find a new flight out of the smallest airport with the biggest traffic in March. Plus imagine this weirdness: watching SXSW on Twitter and Foursquare from your hospital bed five blocks away – while totally high as a kite.

When I got home, I saw the best ear guy in Denver. And he immediately sent me back to the hospital, because – ready? He thought the infection had cracked my skull and my brain was now leaking into my ear. I swear he said those exact words. Right before I passed out in his office.

The good news is, my skull was fine, but the infection was raging. There was talk of a picc line for months, otherwise known as my own personal declaration of how old and sick I was. After much begging, the doctor agreed to let me try the big gun antibiotics… so I proceeded to sit on my ass for the rest of the summer, trying to avoid them taking out my mastoid bone in its entirety.

I got rid of that damn infection. Finally.

Although I still couldn’t hear.

My eardrum was 90% gone, so back to surgery I went. This time – ready? – they removed my whole ear and reconstructed my eardrum from the back.

This photo is from about a month after surgery, and I gotta say there is a reason my doc is the best ear guy in Denver – right? I don’t have any tattoos but I do have one bad-ass looking scar.

The second surgery was harder. Instead of just sitting on my ass, I slept. For months. I started to wake up around Christmas, and about this time last year, I started moving again.

So, here we are a year past that, and I won’t bore you the details, but my diabetes is FINALLY getting back under control. I am FINALLY starting to bend over without my entire spine cracking. When I rub my scar, it feels good instead of scary.

So, while I am sad I am not at SXSW with everyone else, I am just glad to be here.

This article has 17 comments

  1. WilderJanie

    I had no idea!!! OMG!

  2. Karen

    Glad you are ok.

  3. amy cesario

    That is a BADASSS scar!! Wow. Scary. Thankful you are still with us!!!

  4. Headless Mom

    Wow. I had no idea. I’m glad you’re here too.

  5. OMSH

    That is absolutely terrifying! Wow. Just…wow. So glad you received the medical attention you did (understatement of the year, right?).

  6. Aimee Giese

    Heather – the craziest part is how we went uninsured for part of 2012 after my husband was laid off. Timing is everything!!!

  7. Laura Lohr @mommycanrun

    Oh wow! That is quite a scar! So glad you’re okay. Man! Makes you appreciate your health so much more when you’ve nearly lost it.

    Glad you’re HERE too. xo

  8. Ann Imig

    Happy Eariversary and Stayin’AliveAverary.

    Man, traumatic stuff!!

  9. rachel (sesame ellis)

    Good lord. That sounds terrifying.

  10. Karianna

    Wow! I remember you telling me you have hearing loss, but I didn’t know the story behind it. WOW. I’m so glad that you are here, too.

  11. Sunny Hunt

    I remember you tweeting about this at SXSW (yep, been following you for that long) and thinking? Wow, that sucks rocks and that’s one big ass infection!

    I had no idea that it was as serious as it turned out to be. Wow.

    I’m glad you’re still “hear” with us! couldn’t resist the lame pun.

  12. laura magoo

    How did I miss all this? I am glad to hear you are recovering well and sorry you are not at SXSW this year. Next year in Austin?

  13. Sizzle

    I remember when you were going through all that. 2 years already!? Glad you’re ok now, thankfully.

  14. kriddie

    We are ALL so glad YOU ARE STILL HERE!!! You conquered an insane infection and you’re here to blog about it… Show that scar with pride lady, Happy Eariversary!

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