Tuesday, February 7, 2012
At the appointment, we gave a history of Nora's problems with her ear infections, and answered a bunch of questions from the doctor (i.e. when was her first ear infection, is there secondhand smoke in the home, what are her typical symptoms, do we have any reason to believe she has hearing loss, etc.). After the "interview" portion, the doctor took a look in Nora's ears. She was NOT pleased; in fact, we had to hold her down and fight her while she screamed bloody murder. Awful. And rare for her, as she usually lets the pediatricians at our practice check her out without issue.
Despite the kicking and screaming, he was able to get a look at both ears and told us that while they weren't currently infected (hooray!), they weren't healthy ears. There was fluid visible in both ears, and he said that based on what they looked like, the problems there could turn into an ear infection at any time. He then told us that based on her history and the current exam, she met all criteria for tubes. He gave us his spiel about the anatomy of the ear that causes infections, the tubes, the procedure, and the risks--for both surgery AND continuing what we've been doing. Unfortunately, there are risks associated with both. Obviously, there is a slight chance of complications with the tubes, but there is also risk to continuing to allow her to get frequent ear infections and repeatedly dosing her with antibiotics.
At the end, I asked him if there was any chance that Nora could have hearing loss due to the infections. This has been one of my many concerns. He looked right at me and said, "She does have hearing loss." I was kind of surprised at his certainty, given that he hadn't done a hearing test, so I said, "Really?" And he explained that with the amount of fluid she had in her ears, it causes some hearing loss. He compared it to holding your hands over your ears; you can still HEAR, but not as clearly as you should be able to.
That was pretty much the kicker for us. We decided to go ahead and schedule surgery.
Yesterday, they called me to schedule her pre-op appointments and surgery. We have two pre-op appointments early next week, then her surgery is on Friday 2/17. I had a pit in my stomach the entire time I was talking to the scheduler. This situation just sucks. As far as we know, Nora doesn't have an ear infection right now, which makes it a little harder--as bad as it sounds, I think it would be easier on us if she were to develop another ear infection between now and surgery day, because it would assure us that we're making the right decision!
At the end of the day, we do still believe it to be the right decision, but it's a lot harder to send a "healthy" kid into the operating room than a currently sick one, you know?
Anyway, we'll still be able to do some more information gathering during her pre-op appointments that will hopefully help to ease our minds. One of the appointments is actually for a formal hearing test with an audiologist. Apparently the ENT ordered it for Nora to get a better feel for the degree of her hearing loss--and whether it is temporary (we have every reason to believe it is) or permanent.
It has not been an easy decision for us. It has also not been an easy few months, that's for sure. I am going to be a nervous wreck until we can officially call this a success and put it all behind us. Until then, I will live with a ball of nerves in my belly.