It began two weeks ago today: a crushing headache to the back left of my skull. It felt like someone was driving a railroad spike into my brain. Since I’ve been prone to allergies this year, I assumed this was the logical extension of the problem.

By that Thursday, I surrendered to the ultraistic pain and went to see my doctor. Using an instrument, he peered into my left ear and diagnosed an inner ear infection. Solution: take an antibiotic three times a day and Demerol-codeine.

By Saturday morning, no pain relief in sight, and with my sister Antoinette visiting me and expecting me to be her tour guide, I went to Alton Memorial Hospital. I was given a C.A.T. scan (no tumor—yay!) and told there was no sign of an ear infection. A much stronger antibiotic was prescribed, and I was given a shot in the butt. Thirty minutes later I felt no pain, though the narcotic of the shot was making me woozy to the point that I couldn’t drive that night.

The pain returned the next morning. The spike in my head gnaws at me, as if something were chewing on my bones. At night, I lie awake in the dark and listen to my house being eaten. Who knows where this will go tomorrow.

I saw my doctor again last Wednesday. He said the infection was deep down in my mastoid bone and would take quite a few more days to heal, come see him yet a third time in a week. More antibiotic, more narcotics, until today.

Meantime, I’ve been researching antibiotics. For years, prominent doctors have warned, our society is overmedicated, making us increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Meanwhile, drug companies are focusing on “sure fix” healing drugs and much higher profits. The university medical schools that were doing antibiotic experiments have had their grants pulled. Guess how many institutions are now working on super antibiotics? None.

What is it about human beings that warnings come and we ignore them? We were in big time global warming denial and only now are we reacting, when global warming began in the 1800s. We are in it, not waiting for it, as massive storms of various kinds are striking worldwide. We were warned about antibiotic dangers and we punted and gave little Sally a megadose to clear up that earache. And now nothing is left.

Have you heard the news? Water is running out, in the major holding basins of our country. Sand—sand, for god’s sake—is running out, making workers with concrete to scramble for supply. Half of the wild animal species on earth are dying out and CANNOT be saved. It has happened.

So I deserve my pain and you deserve yours. We have been gluttonous, and now we pay. I hear countless people my age smirking and saying at least we won’t have to watch it—the Athropocene epoch we made, the age of human-based extinctions. Those same heads-in-the-dirt—sand is endangered, remember—post their grandchildren’s photos on Facebook and boast.

“Looka that! Fine and healthy! Have you a soda. Eat some French fries!”

Tomorrow used to never come. Today it came and went.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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