When I was little I had tubes put in my ears (why? no one ever satisfied me with a real answer). This caused me numerous ear infections until I was 12. One hot day in the middle of summer my Boy Scout troop was selling fireworks (the 4th of July was coming up), and I was feeling woozy.
Do you know how you can alter the pressure in your ears, using your eustachian tubes? My family has done a lot of traveling, often involving mountain passes. This got me used to 'playing around' with the pressure in my ears (the changes in altitude affected the pressure in my ears a lot). On that hot day in July, while my dad was talking with my scoutmaster, pressure started building in my right ear. I messed with it, but it just got worse. Then it started getting seriously painful (worse than ever before). I messed around some more, gingerly, trying to ease the pain. Suddenly, the pressure went way down. My eardrum had popped.
It was not earth-shattering. It didn't hurt as bad as I imagined getting a popped eardrum would. I found out later that the hole was so small that it was invisible (my doctor couldn't see it until over a year later). But right then fluid of some sort came out of my ear and I had relief from the pain. Instead of losing hearing, my right ear became somewhat more sensitive to sound for a time. In consequence, every time I had a doctor's appointment after that and the nurse went to check my ears, my right ear failed to hold any pressure.
To this day, the hole is still there. I can go under water and blow bubbles out of it. It makes a whistling sound sometimes (not under water). My right ear is as sensitive to sound as my left these days (and I have been careful with my hearing in both ears). I don't know what it would be like to not have that hole in my eardrum, except that I'd have ear infections again (probably). I haven't had an ear infection since that hot July day when I was 12.