I'm so very sick

Monday, January 9, 2012

...of my baby getting ear infections.

I didn't post about it amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas, but a few days prior to the holiday, Nora was diagnosed with another ear infection. We suspected she might have one, but weren't positive. I called the pediatrician's office and debated aloud on the phone for several minutes before she convinced me that yes, it could be an ear infection, and no, we wouldn't be wasting their time if it turned out to be nothing.

So, on my last day of work prior to a 5-day Christmas weekend, I left the office an hour early to run Nora to the totally empty pediatrician's office for their last appointment of the day. And it was confirmed: Nora had an ear infection for Christmas, for the second year in a row.

Ten days of antibiotics later, she was seemingly fine. Unfortunately, that didn't last long.

We had a pediatrician's appointment scheduled for today, for a recheck of the ear--to make sure the Christmas ear infection had cleared up properly. But yesterday, we began to notice our girl feeling a bit under the weather again. A little more quiet than usual. A little more clingy. Constantly rubbing her right ear. Slightly feverish. The tell-tale sign came when I put her to bed at 7:00 p.m., and she woke up screaming at 8:30. Under normal circumstances, that's just not how Nora rolls.

So the appointment to recheck her left ear turned into a diagnosis of infection in her right ear. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Our pediatrician mentioned the possibility of getting tubes put in her ears back in October. At the time, we weren't feeling ready to make that jump, which was fine, since the doctor said she would give Nora a pass for one more ear infection between then and March--more than that, and she'd want to talk tubes. Well, guess what? She's now had two, and we're only in January.

For those who are curious, her history looks like this:

  • Baby's 1st ear infection - December 27, 2010 - treated with amoxicillin
  • Ear infection - April 2011 - treated with amoxicillin
  • Ear infection - September 2011 - surprise diagnosis at well baby appt - left untreated
  • Ear infection - Oct. 10, 2011 - treated with amoxicillin
  • Double ear infection - Oct. 26, 2011 - unsure if it's same infection as 10/10 that never went away, or a new one - treated with omnicef
  • Ear infection (left ear) - Dec. 22, 2011 - treated with amoxicillin
  • Ear infection (right ear) - Jan. 9, 2012 - treating with omnicef
  • Note: I'm about 98% sure there was another surprise diagnosis somewhere in there that we left untreated, but I can't remember exactly when that was. Our philosophy (with our doctor's blessing) has always been that if it isn't bothering her/she has no symptoms, we can leave it to clear up on its own.
In my mind, the number from December through October was not that big of a deal, which is why I was surprised when our pediatrician mentioned tubes then. But looking at December through October, and now October through today? Maybe I'm an overprotective mama bear, but that looks like an awful lot of ear infections.

We tried to talk to the pediatrician today about tubes, but she wasn't Nora's doctor--our doc is out for a few weeks on some kind of medical leave, and won't be back for another two weeks. This doc today said she likes to be very conservative about tubes, and personally, wouldn't recommend them at this time. But in our minds, she doesn't know Nora. And while I respect her as a member of the medical community, I would feel better about it if we heard it from our pediatrician.

We now have 10 days of an antibiotic, and then we go for a recheck again in 14 days--thankfully, our pediatrician is supposed to be back in the office that week, so we scheduled the appointment with her in the hopes that she'll actually be back and up for seeing patients.

In the meantime, we are just torn. We want the tubes. We don't want the tubes. Aside from the pain and discomfort the infections cause Nora, our two biggest concerns are: 1) We don't like to have her on antibiotics so often, and 2) We're worried she could potentially have some mild hearing loss from having fluid in her ears so frequently, which could be affecting her language development. At this point, I think what we really want the most is just a hearing test. We just need the referral to the ENT to get a consult and figure out exactly what we're dealing with. If there's no hearing loss? I think we'll be comfortable waiting a while longer to see if she'll grow out of it. If there is hearing loss? I think our baby is getting tubes.

Blah-biddy blah blah. I'm honestly just as tired of talking about it as I am of seeing my little one suffering. As always, we do enjoy the extra snuggle time. Last night, we couldn't get her back to sleep when she woke up at 8:30, so we brought her into our bed with the iPad and let her watch a good chunk of Toy Story 3 while lying there with us. Just precious.

Tonight, we have antibiotics that are hopefully doing their thing, and a baby who is (at least for now) sleeping peacefully in her crib, so we can at least give it the two weeks to see what the recheck brings. But I do find myself wondering if we're just delaying what is inevitable. Only time will tell.

Annnndd... I just heard her over the monitor. My poor baby. We made it until 9:15 tonight. *sigh* Perhaps we will watch Tangled on the iPad tonight. :) Goodnight!

14 comments:

Erin January 9, 2012 at 10:31 PM  

Ugh, that totally sucks :( Even after just ONE ear infection, I can't imagine having to go through this that often! I know you just DO, and you deal, but dang. So hard to see your baby in pain that frequently!!

Oh, and I know we conversed on twitter about Annie not liking Amoxicillin - well, now she too is taking it like candy - only took about 2 days for her to warm up to it :)

I hope you get some relief and resolution soon!

Deanna January 10, 2012 at 12:24 AM  

I totally understand how you feel, my daughter was plauged with ear infections from just after birth till today she almost 18. Some kids get ear infections, some kids throw up when they get sick, ear tubes were a new thing when my daughter was younger, I too suffered from ear infections as a child and do suffer from mild to medium hearing loss from years and years of untreated ear infections. Anyways, my best friend daughter is 6 had tubes put in at age of 1.5 years she too suffered from constant ear infections, but has since had them removed and no longer suffers from ear infections. I would talk to your own peditrician and do your own research, I have heard lots of good things about ear tubes. See your baby suffering and knowing you really can't do anything really blows. I hope she feels better soon!

Vanessa January 10, 2012 at 2:38 AM  

Im so sorry, that sounds awful Heather. So frustrating for you. I'm no medical expert, but I would for sure get the tubes. I reckon that now is such an important period for Nora's development that it makes sense. But then I am a doctor's daughter, and my mom falls on the 'treat it' camp with most things. Good luck with the pediatricisn when he/she returns, hopefully in a few short weeks you'll have an answer. Thinking of you.

Katie P January 10, 2012 at 10:16 AM  

We just went through this last spring. (I posted a comment about it before). We chose tubes because we had gone through SO many rounds of antibiotics and tubes were much less harmful to him than continuing that protocol. Honestly, I cried when he went under, cried when he came out (he was 3), and he was running around playing "softball" within 4 hours post procedure.

I'd go back and do it 100x over and I drug my feet until the last possible second - talked to 4 different drs and my MIL who works in the medical community ad nauseam about the procedure.

Make sure you decide together but know we have no regrets. (We have a healthy respect for drs when they are needed but I try to avoid them at all costs! ;) ).

Emily January 10, 2012 at 10:33 AM  

For what its worth, I wish my parents had gotten me tubes sooner. I guess it wasn't as common in the early 80s. I had chronic ear infections from 8 months to 4.5 years, including a couple of ruptured ear drums. I finally got tubes at 4.5 (and my adenoids removed, which is a bigger deal surgery) and it went down to once/yr, then once every few years once I reached 15 or so.
I have very minor hearing loss (a couple of low tones, and I have extreme trouble with whispers) and my speech was terrible until early elementary school (I was in therapy for a bit to learn proper sounds). Should it ever come up for my girls, I am 100% pro tubes :)

elijoh,  January 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM  

My father in law is an ENT and says it's heartbreaking how many kids he sees that aren't referred to him until they have serious hearing problems and language delays. He also says that long term untreated ear infections can lead to problems with brain development but I don't remember the exact details on that. I would wait and see what your pediatrician says and then definitely bring Nora to an ENT. It will be good to have that second opinion no matter what you decide.

Andrea January 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM  

As a baby I was also plagued with ear infection after ear infection. My parents waited until I was about two and a half years old for tubes and I wish they had done it much earlier. I had hearing loss (still do and will need a hearing aid at some point), had to go to speech therapy, and dealt with issues in my right ear all the way through high school that included additional surgeries.

If the same thing ever pops up with my daughter I will absolutely have tubes put in. Ear infections are extremely painful and something I still deal with from time to time. Even if a child isn't showing symptoms, it doesn't mean they aren't experiencing discomfort.

I hope that when your regular pediatrician returns you are both on the same page. And hopefully in the meantime this infection clears up and no new ones pop up!!! feel better Nora! :-)

Lucianna January 10, 2012 at 4:12 PM  

This sucks - I'm so sorry!
My only comment is that I had tubes put in when I was a child (not really sure how old I was...at least 2, I think) and I never had problems after that and I do not have any hearing loss (that I know of!).
I don't know much about tubes other than that, but I do know that it is not great to have so many antibiotics, so I understand your concerns.

Blessed with Boys January 10, 2012 at 5:27 PM  

Just a thought. My nephew had tons of ear infections when he was younger and the Doc. wanted tubes put in. My brother and sister were not to fond of that so they did some research that suggested cutting out dairy. They did, under doctor supervision and Ethan is now 5 and has not had an ear infection since. He is back on dairy as well. Supposedly children can have sensitivities to certain foods without having a full on allergy. This can lead to ear infections. Just a thought. My son is now 3 and on his 3rd set of tubes. Im sure you will decide what it best for Nora!

PhaseThreeOfLife January 10, 2012 at 7:09 PM  

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. I know how you feel. One thing I feel that I have to say to you that no one said to me is this: Tubes do NOT mean she won't get another ear infection. When we were debating over whether to get them, we heard soooo many stories of how once people got the tubes, they never had another ear infection, like it was a miracle cure. Ryan still gets them. After getting the tubes in over the summer, it still took another 6 weeks to get rid of the ear infection he had. And then he got another one at the end of November that we are STILL battling. The tubes definitely make it easier for the infection to drain, which is great. But it hasn't prevented them. I just wanted you to know that so that you don't have the mental breakdown I nearly did when he was diagnosed with yet ANOTHER double ear infection. I'm not saying I regret getting the tubes for him - I think it was the right decision for him and I would do it again. I just wish someone had warned me that he was likely still going to get the infections.

Good luck, and I hope Nora feels better soon!

Amy January 11, 2012 at 10:45 AM  

I know what you are going thru...and tubes are great. They really are..but our pedi wont discuss til 8 infections in one year. Our ENT wasnt on board with that plan. ;)
My boys both had their first ear infection at 2 weeks of age! CRAZY! Whatever you do, she will do great. Tubes are a blessing..but dont be surprised if she gets an infection with the tubes..it happens. Praying for Nora..and mommy!

Erin O. January 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM  

Heather, I meant to send you an email the last time you posted about this dilemma.

From about 4 months onward, I have had ear infections-in fact, so numerous to count, I'm currently at 28 years old on my 6th or 7 set. When I was a teen the tube in my left ear actually never fell out and the doctors used this as an extension to my inner/middle ear. After finally taking it out it was discovered that I had a permanent hole in my ear and thus I had my last set of tubes placed. Currently if you looked in my ear you'd see a lovely blue T-tube. I have to be honest, ear infections suck. After spending the better part of 20 years with them they have finally subsided and I don't have as many(maybe once every two years).

The only advice I'd go with is stick with your gut. In addition to the multiple ear infections, I have a hearing loss in my left ear. This seems to be a rare occurrence as I had more infections than the average baby, but my parents stuck with me and pushed the doctors to check my ears out even if I wasn't symptomatic, thus preventing what could have been much worse infections and hearing loss.

I'm not saying Nora will have any of this, but there is nothing wrong with being a pushy parent and nothing wrong with finding out if tubes are right for her.

Good luck!

Clint & Alicia McLaws January 15, 2012 at 12:28 AM  

My baby girl has had 2 ear infections. Hubby's cousin is a chiropractor, and asked if her could start adjusting her regularly. I guess its there's been some link shown between chiropractic adjustments and the treatment of ear infections? We'd discussed it with the pediatrician, and he told us to go for it. She gets regular adjustments now, and she hasn't had a single sniffle or infection since. Granted, she's only 5 months old....but maybe its helped. Either way, she's extremely happy and healthy. They make a huge difference in her attitude, also. She went a few weeks without one, and she was a CRANK!! Thought it might be another infection, but doc said she was perfectly fine. Got her adjusted, and she was back to her sweet, normal self.

BettyCupcakes January 16, 2012 at 9:05 AM  

I had a million ear infections as a kid, ended up having 10 surgeries over 14 years including tubes, tonsillectomy, adenoid-ectomy, and skin graphs over holes in my ears. I tell you this to say that now, at 27, I only have a very small hearing loss in my right ear only. In fact, the hearing loss is so small, I only notice when I'm in bars. I know my ear problems tortured my mom and she had the same worries. I just wanted to let you know that sometimes the end result is much less severe, despite the horrible stuff going on right now. Hope she feels better soon- I feel her pain!

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