Man, back in the days of my youth, I was seriously “into” jumping out of “perfectly good airplanes.” Over 11,000 times, some of those jumps from rather extreme altitudes. The rush, the view… what thrills. I still jump from time to time, but not nearly as often as “the good old days.” Back in the day, it was common for me to jump eight to ten times a day, two or three days straight. My buddies formed a very tight group.
While I am fortunate that I did not have any major injuries, such as broken bones from a bad fall, I have had the unfortunate experience of breaking my left eardrum — not once, not twice, but three times. All due to a thermocline.
What’s a thermocline? It’s a layer of a fluid — usually water — but can be in the atmosphere. The air is made of layers — not just one big blob of gas. When the temperatures are really hot and a temperature inversion forms, it is possible, though not probable, to “hit” a thick layer of air during freefall and skip across that layer like a stone skips across a lake. And that happened to me. Once over Long Island, New York, another time over somewhere in Ohio, and the last time over the Chesapeake Bay — my usual and favorite place to go skydiving.
When my head skipped across the inversion layer, my ear “popped.” Then I couldn’t hear, and it felt as if water or fluid were in my ear. Yep, eardrum broke.
There isn’t much you can do about it except prevent infection (with antibiotic drops) and not go skydiving for months until it heals.
Unfortunately, once an ear drum is damaged like that, it can break again. On Saturday, I was doing some work on my kitchen, and that work produced a lot of dust. I was wearing a dust mask, but it wasn’t enough to prevent me from sneezing. I sneezed once too hard. My ear popped. Then I couldn’t hear. Blammo… there it is again… another eardrum break.
I will see an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat) doc tomorrow. Need to get it cleaned out and treated with antibiotics again.
Fiddlesticks… if it’s not one thing, it’s another!
Life is short: cherish intact, working ear drums!