Monday, February 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Ear Tubes

First of all, a non-explanation explanation of where I've been, for anyone who still even reads this thing. My little family is currently going through our biggest challenge yet. I'm not going to say much, because it's not really my story to tell and this is the internets, after all, but I feel as though my home life has completely changed in the last 3 weeks. I think ultimately it will be for the better, but for now we are taking it, as they say, one day at a time. (Surely that will provide a clue.)

Anyway, my saving grace through all of the drama has been my beautiful daughter. The best part of what's been going on (and granted, there's not much competition for that honor) is that I've been getting more quality Chicklette time. And she is just so fun. Walking, talking, blowing kisses ("MmmmmmmmmWAH!"), growing vampire teeth (the two front ones just refuse to come in for some reason), and just generally being awesome.

One not-so-fun thing was the surgery she had last week to insert ear tubes. I thought I'd write about our expereince here, in the event there's anyone out there contemplating a little bilateral myringotomy action.

We've known for a couple of months that we were going for the tubes. The Chicklette's had 5 (or 6, depending on which doctor you ask) ear infections since July, a couple of which required multiple rounds of antibiotics to clear. That's a lot of drugs, not to mention office visits. But the thing that truly motivated our pediatrician (and us) to get a consult from the ENT was that the Chicklette ALWAYS had fluid in her ears, even when they weren't infected. We'd read and learned from family experience that this was likely causing a hearing deficit that could affect speech development.

In we went for the consult, and then to the hearing test which confirmed that yes, the Chicklette was definitely having some issues. So we scheduled the surgery (or, as I liked to call it, the "procedure").

So, I don't think I need to tell any parent out there that scheduling surgery for your child is SCARY. You know, the whole "please read these forms and sign them and oh no of course your child isn't going to die from the anesthesia or bleed out of her ear but we have to put it in there JUST IN CASE" thing. Good times. But we knew it was the right thing to do, so I sucked it up and put myself on a Grey's Anatomy hiatus for a few weeks.

I will preface the actual surgery story by saying that everything turned out JUST FINE. But in case anyone's curious about the process, here's how it went down. We got to the surgery center at 6:30 a.m., with a tired but generally happy baby. I had been nervous about the night before -- she couldn't have food or milk after midnight, and then only clear fluids until 5:30 a.m. Luckily, no wakeups that night and no screaming for milk in the morning. We checked in, and then headed back to the pre-op area. We were at a facility that specializes in children's surgery, so there were toys and stuff to amuse her highness. When the time came for her to go in (after the signing of many more frightening forms), the nurse whisked her away quickly. Not a peep. She was done 15 minutes later, confused and cranky from the anesthesia (administered via mask, not IV), with a dollop of heartbreaking blood dried on her ear. But she was fine. We got discharged within about a half hour, headed home, and spent the day at home. She took a 3-hour nap and woke up good as new. I swear, kids are resilient.

The doctor told us that they had pulled a LOT of very thick fluid out of her ears, and actually looked mildly skeeved by it. Is it wrong that I was sort of proud of being able to gross out a doctor? Even if only vicariously through my child.

Anyway, almost a week out and she's fine. We'll have our post op on Thursday, and hopefully she won't have any issues with infection. I've already noticed her responding to things she didn't before (and she actually startled at a noise yesterday, which I've NEVER seen her do), so it feels like the decision is already paying off. She'll have another hearing test in a month or so.

So, that's the story. Happy to answer any more specific questions anyone has if they're contemplating taking the ear tube plunge.