An ENT Experience

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Given that I've posted several times about our trials and tribulations with Nora's frequent and persistent ear infections, I would be remiss if I didn't share the latest developments.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago when we were in every-day-antibiotic-injection hell, we were finally referred to an ENT specialist. The appointment with him was last week, and although it was a fairly brief appointment, it was obviously an important one.

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.


Brooke K.,  February 7, 2012 at 8:58 PM  

I myself am a tube success...however, I had them atleast 4 or 5 times. I too have some permanent hearing loss. And, I still get ear infections now as an adult, but they are only once in a 'blue moon'. Good luck !!

diana February 7, 2012 at 9:09 PM  

I really feel for you. We're en route to the doctor tomorrow for what I suspect is my son's 4th ear infection since the end of November. I'm afraid that we are headed for tubes sooner rather than later. I already have anxiety about hearing loss, antibiotics and their frequent use/effectiveness, and the possibility of surgery. I hope things go well and this helps Nora.

Krystie February 7, 2012 at 9:09 PM  

I am also a tube baby and the Dr's told my mom that if she hadn't done it when she did I would have had a 60 % hearing deficit. I can tell you since the tubes at age 4 and through my adulthood I've had maybe 2 ear infections ( all within the last 3 years). I think Nora will do fabulous and better now while she's young and wont remember. Good luck guys! Lots of healing prayers

basebell6 February 7, 2012 at 10:33 PM  

Everything about parenting is SOOO HARD when it deals with decisions that have to be made. I'm sure you guys made the right one. Praying everything goes well for her!

Amy February 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM  

Keeping Nora and you guys in my prayers. What a difficult decision that must be to make. We have that Mommy intuition for a reason and I'm sure you made the right one.

Vanessa February 8, 2012 at 9:32 AM  

I am SURE you have made the right choice. Nora's quality of life will be so much better, and it will stop the hearing loss... I know it's a tough decision to make, but I think it's one you'll be glad you made. Good luck!

amybyrd February 8, 2012 at 10:45 AM  

I know it is nerve wracking and not an easy choice. However as the mommy of a tube baby, it was the quickest surgery and Elle was herself within minutes. The hardest part was when they came to get her, we weren't allowed to go in with her. And waiting the 5 minutes to be called to recovery--I could hear her long before we were allowed in. But honestly a nap afterwards and it was like nothing had happened.

Amy February 8, 2012 at 11:07 AM  

My boys have between them had 8sets of tubes. I would personally ask if you could wait to do the hearing test AFTER surgery. When they go in they will drain the fluid and already there will be an increase in her hearing! My youngest has had frequent (even WITH tubes) infections from 2 weeks old-3years and has had 3 sets of tubes. He had mild hearing loss but now at age 5 1/2 they say his hearing is "within normal limits" so dont stress. I cant imagine it would be permanent. But, like I said I would either ask to have it after the surgery. She will do GREAT mama! They usually sleep for a few hours after the surgery but then are perfect! I hope this gives her some relief!

Andrea February 8, 2012 at 1:43 PM  

I am sure I have made this comment before on one of your other posts...but tubes literally saved my hearing. As a result of constant infections and fluid filled ears, my speech was delayed and I needed speech therapy because pre-tubes I spoke what I heard, which of course was completely garbled or underwater sounding.

This is a hard decision to make but I don't think you will regret it. Good luck and thanks for updating. Nora will be in my thoughts!

PhaseThreeOfLife February 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM  

I think you've made the best possible decision you can. Good luck, I hope everything goes well!

Rachel,  February 9, 2012 at 6:24 PM  

I was not a tubes baby but a good candidate for them. My mom was afraid of them and decided not to do it. As a result, I barely talked until I was 4 and when I did it was a garbled mess (I heard everything as if I was underwater so I naturally talked back like that). Luckily, I caught up and have no long term hearing damage. It's a tough decision, but I think you're making the right call for Nora! Good luck!

Rachel February 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM  

You will not regret this decision! Our daughter was about 18 months when she got tubes. She would get an ear infection go on the 10 days of antibiotics and then get another ear infection. She got the tubes and has not had one ear infection since. The hardest part of the surgery was having to leave her when they took her back for the surgery. The surgery took no time at all, and 5 minutes after we got to the waiting room they called us and said she was done. She was back to her normal self by the afternoon.

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