When your child needs ear tube surgery

I am not a medical professional. This information is from our personal experience and a medical professional should be consulted in healthcare decisions. 

When Your child needs ear tube surgery-7

 

Almost one year ago our son had bilateral tympanostomy tube insertion surgery—more commonly known as getting “ear tubes”.

During this procedure a small hole is made in the ear drum and a tiny tube is inserted which allows air to move in and out of the middle ear.

We had always assumed ear tubes were only for kids who had excessive ear infections.

Garrett had his first ear infection at seven-months and he had five more infections over the next 11 months—for a total of 6 ear infections (two of which were doubles) in a year.

At this time we went to a large pediatric practice where we usually saw a different pediatrician each visit. Each doctor would look in his ears, note they were fluid-filled and infected, and write a script for another round of antibiotics.

Whenever we took Garrett in for follow-up appointments the infection would have cleared but the fluid remained in his ears. Each provider assured us sometimes it takes longer for fluid to clear after an ear infection, but the good news was the infection was gone.

On Garrett’s sixth ear infection the pediatrician spoke with us about tubes and said Garrett was “on the fence” for the number of infections that suggests tube surgery is necessary. This pediatrician said we could wait and see how Garrett does and if he got another ear infection in the next 8 weeks he recommended moving forward with tube surgery.

As we waited to see if Garrett would get another ear infection he started having falls. He fell down the stairs, would fall off a chair while seated, and trip when playing. As most 18-month-olds take tumbles while learning to navigate the world around them, we initially credited this clumsiness to Garrett’s young age.

In addition to the ear infections and balance issues, Garrett was also behind in speech development, saying very few words and most of the words he did say were approximations. My husband was a late-talker and many others assured us that all kids start talking at different ages, so again, we were operating under the “give it time” notion.

But it all just felt off. It wasn’t adding up. There were too many separate flags signaling something wasn’t right.

When Garrett fell down the stairs a second time I made an appointment with the doctor to discuss balance concerns as well as bring up Garrett’s speech development.

The pediatrician we saw this time looked at Garrett’s entire history and completed a full physical exam. Garrett didn’t have an ear infection at this time but he still had fluid in his ears.

This pediatrician explained to us that persistent fluid in the ears can impact the vestibular system—which controls our balance, how we know where we are in space, and how we move our bodies. The presence of fluid in the ears can interfere with how the vestibular system works. She also shared that fluid in the ears can also cause hearing loss and result in a speech delay. And finally, that persistent fluid in the ears creates ideal conditions for infections.

And there it was. She put it all together. The ear infections, the falls and balance issues, the speech delay—it was all related to the fact that Garrett had had persistent fluid in his ears for the past 15 months. The pediatrician said we should schedule tube surgery as soon as possible.

The ENT ordered two hearing tests with an audiologist prior to the surgery—both of which revealed Garrett had a hearing loss.

When we brought Garrett home from surgery he put a small blanket over his head and continued to pull a blanket over his head or cover his ears with his hands for three days. He was fully hearing for the first time in nearly a year and a half and the volume and noise was outright overwhelming.

Within a month after surgery Garrett’s vocabulary took off. Most of his words were still approximations but he was saying new ones and saying them daily. He was no longer falling off chairs and was tripping less often. He stopped getting ear infections.

Tube surgery is one of the best things we’ve done for Garrett and had we known sooner that it addressed more than ear infections, we would have scheduled it earlier. 

My hope is this finds another parent somewhere who is on the fence about tube surgery. Or another parent who is desperately trying to identify perceived silo issues with their child that are actually all connected. As parents, we can research, ask for advice, and take our kids to a dozen different doctors, and still feel like something isn’t adding up. That gut feeling—mother’s or father’s intuition—is one of the best things we can rely on to keep pushing for answers for our kids.

 

 

Change and Control

fullsizeoutput_344b

I wrote this the other day as part of a passage about growth in stillness and reason in waiting but this idea that there are many things we can change and few we can control has turned and turned in my head.

 

We have all made decisions that have led us to where we are in this exact moment. And while we have made choices to get here, we can’t always control the circumstances.

 

Since November 2017 Levi and I have had a second child, finished old jobs and contracts, listed our house, sold our house, went under contract for one house, bought a different house, moved 3.5 hours away to a brand-new town, our two-year-old and one-year-old both had surgeries, we started new jobs and contracts, and essentially started life over. Finding where the grocery stores are, our way around town, new doctors, new friends, new routines.

 

And it has all just felt like A. LOT.

 

We couldn’t control the kids’ health situations, when houses hit the market, whether or not a seller is willing to remediate black mold, or work projects.

 

Those are all circumstances we had no power over.

 

But we could decide what we could change in each of those situations. We could get the kids the help needed to improve their health, we could walk away from a house and buy a different one, we could say yes to great opportunities and take a leap.

 

And while the past year has been challenging, there has been growth in that too. All of the challenges seem a little more manageable if I can sort out what’s out of my hands and what’s in them. If I recognize I have no control over something, it’s easier to let go of it and ask, what can I change?

There is a lot we can’t control. But there is even more that we can change.

57134015530__21A68D6E-237B-4886-8E7B-ED3A9B620B8B
choosing to embrace the mess and Valentine-making memories.

Yoga makes me a better parent

IMG_2005

For the past seven or so years when I’ve had an opportunity to work out I’ve gone for a run. Aside from the solid exercise and post-run high, running has been a great metaphor for life.

That “push-through-the-pain, show-up-and-get-it-done” mentality can be applied to just about any situation.

Except parenthood.

In parenthood you show up (everyday), but that doesn’t mean anything is going to get done. With toddlers and infants there is no pushing through the pain. You actively sit in the pain. There is lots of smiling through gritted teeth and swearing in your mind while you enthusiastically encourage them (for 30-minutes) to eat a cup of yogurt on their own…. and then watch as they wipe their yogurt-covered hands on the table, through their hair, and across the bottoms of their feet in one fluid motion.

Small children cry for inexplicable reasons. They love certain foods one day and act like they’re tainted with poison the next. When you don’t let them go outside on a 20-degree day or make them wear shoes on a splintery boardwalk you might as well be throwing their security blanket through a wood chipper in front of them.

I know, I know they’re growing at lightspeed and getting teeth and trying to make sense of the world around them and the emotions they’re feeling. But that knowledge doesn’t always make it easier at 9 p.m. when they refuse to go to sleep after getting up at 5:30 a.m.

Parenthood is a high-rep exercise in patience.

For so many years showing up and gutting-it-out worked well in whatever I did. Even if I absolutely dreaded the thought of doing something, the job would get done. There was a goal, a finish line.

In parenthood, sometimes the job doesn’t get done. And sometimes it gets done and you have to redo it. Twenty times. In a single day.

Parenthood has no finish line. It’s from the moment those two lines show up until, what I can make of it, all eternity.

And this is why I’ve found such an outlet in Power Yoga.

Power Yoga is based in Ashtanga but it moves more quickly. You lift and hold your entire body’s weight constantly, making it a great strength training exercise, but there are also poses you hold that are extremely difficult, whether due to a balance element or strength element, and breathing through some of these intense poses is what it’s like to remain calm and composed and breathe through inexplicable toddler tantrums, or 11 p.m., 1, 3, and 5 a.m. nighttime infant feedings.

And did I mention the room is heated to 90 degrees? Which to some sounds awful, but I Live. For. The. Heat.

Being able to step out of the house, by myself, and get in a solid workout, mentally and physically, makes me feel better and gives me a perspective shift when I need it most.

Running is an exercise but yoga is a practice. You start every class with an intention and carry that through. Usually at least once during class I will side step, or even fall, while trying a new pose but I hop back in the pose and keep going.

In running success is measured by completion. You finish the run, you get a PR.

In yoga—and parenthood—success isn’t measured in outcomes, it’s measured by how you handle the situation.