My arthritis medications include fairly large doses of steroids, which reduce inflammation and pain. They also suppress my immune system, and I was already prone to get upper respiratory and ear infections, so I tend to have a minor sinus snuffle or cough going almost constantly. It's usually not too much of a bother since the 'reduced inflammation and pain' bit means I barely notice. Until I get an ear infection.
I still barely notice! Instead of "AUGH I AM BEING STABBED IN THE EAR WITH AN ICEPICK," I get "Huh. Slight twinge. Did I sleep on my ear funny? La la la..." Sounds good, right? Er, no. The icepick-in-the-ear used to be my signal to go to the doctor and get antibiotics. Now the first obvious sign of a bad ear infection is when I wake up with blood and gunk on my pillow because my eardrum ruptured in the night.
This is not a particularly good thing, as I'm sure you agree! I do not like it, and nor does my doctor, so I have standing orders to be paranoid about every little twinge and go in for a check if it's accompanied by swollen glands or a cough, etc. Usually I go in, he takes a look, yup here we go again, antibiotics. It's become almost routine, if annoying. This time? This time I went in about two weeks ago, saw a different doc because mine was away, and got "Hmm. No fever, mucus in your throat but no pus, and your eardrum is dull but not actually swollen... it looks like you have fluid in there but no actual bacterial infection... yet. Given your history, I totally agree with the way this is being managed, but taking antibiotics when you don't need to is Bad, so here's a prescription in case things develop. Don't fill it unless you get more symptoms." Since taking antibiotics unnecessarily is indeed Bad, I have spent the last week and a bit occasionally poking my ear, checking my glands on that side, staring down my own throat in the mirror, and otherwise analysing every twinge to see if I can work out if something is going on in there. My ear seemed to be settling down.
This morning? POP.*mutter grumble razzin frazzin*
At least I hadn't thrown away the prescription. *spit grumble swear*