Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The End of an Ear Era (well, hopefully)

This has been kind of a rough year with the girls and their health. Maddie has had an ear infection literally every month that antibiotics didn't seem to touch. Anna has had her fair share too - I think we were at the fifth ear infection the last time we were at the pediatrician. Other parents who have been through this know how challenging they can be, and I felt so helpless knowing my poor girls were sick and I couldn't make them better. It has been affecting our family life too - plenty of stressed out days where the kids basically just scream at me all day, and plenty of sleepless nights.

After who knows how many rounds of antibiotics, our pediatrician agreed that it was time to try something new. We visited an ENT (actually the same doctor who performed Maddie's little skin tag surgery last year) and he confirmed that both girls were prime candidates for tubes in their ears. Even after 10 days of medicine, both girls had an insane amount of fluid in their ears and he said that it was causing a lot of pressure...no wonder the girls had been so cranky. We also had both girls do a hearing test with their audiologist. Anna was in a separate room with a window, and she was supposed to put a toy in a basket every time she heard a tone. It was heartbreaking to watch and see how many tones she was truly not hearing. I had had suspicions for a while that something was off with her hearing and speech, but it still made my heart ache to watch her do that test. Maddie showed signs of diminished hearing too, and the audiologist was confident that tubes would help clear out the fluid and give them both much better hearing.

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We woke up bright and way too early to go to one of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's outpatient surgery centers. Although the girls were not impressed at being hungry and thirsty (you can't let them eat after midnight although Maddie was able to nurse once at night, at least), both perked up once they got into the waiting room. So many toys and lots of new friends! Anna is on a big "doctor" kick right now too so she was in awe at all of the medical sights to see.

The staff at CHOA were wonderful, so engaging with the kids and very willing to answer any questions we had. They even let Anna and Maddie pick out a toy from their prize cabinet - of course Anna picked a doctor's kit!

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Maddie went off into her surgery without incident, but while I was waiting in the room with Anna (Steve was in the post-op waiting area), the nurse came in to get me to sign the consent form that we were only doing the tubes. I hesitated, and then asked if the doctor could make a decision while he was in there to remove Anna's adenoids too. We had been going back and forth about whether or not to remove them, and had decided with the doctor at the pre-op appointment to wait and see how the tubes helped before removing anything. But then the night before the surgery, I had been watching my sweet girl sleep and hearing her snore. I started second-guessing the decision to cancel the adenoid surgery, and I was so thankful that the doctor came back in after Maddie's surgery to talk to me about it. It really meant a lot to me that he would essentially halt the operating room to come have a conversation with me, and when I told him that I just really felt like maybe we had made a mistake, he agreed that based on how Anna was acting, her adenoids really could be an issue even apart from the tubes. I signed the new consent papers to go ahead with the adenoidectomy.

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I stayed with Anna while she fell asleep, and then went to the post-op room where Maddie was not a happy camper. As soon as I sat down and took her in my lap, she flung her little arms around my neck and held on for dear life. She very promptly conked out and fell asleep. Anna came in not too long after, and she was an even unhappier camper. With the adenoid surgery, she had a tube in her throat, and she was hoarse and disoriented from the anesthesia. I handed off Maddie to Steve, pulled Anna into my lap, and soothed her to sleep. I haven't had Anna fall asleep on me in so very long, and I was thankful that my snuggles were able to bring her some comfort. And I was also relieved to hear the doctor say that going ahead with the adenoid surgery was absolutely the right decision - her adenoids were indeed large and causing a lot of pressure and blockage. I am glad I spoke up about un-canceling the surgery and I'm glad the doctor supported that decision!!

Anna woke up from her nap a totally different person. She was cheerful and happy to have a popsicle, and immediately started begging for pancakes. Both girls were in good moods, devoured their breakfasts, and spent the rest of the afternoon going for a walk and playing outside in the beautiful weather.

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We have already noticed a difference. I am SO glad that we went forward with the surgeries and I am relieved that my girls seem to finally be feeling better. These past two days have been the most peaceful that we've had in a while and I am sure it will just keep getting better. I am curious to see how their speech develops and how Anna's improves.

Thank you to everyone who sent good thoughts the day of the surgery - we know we had some supportive cheerleaders following their progress!

1 comment:

Sarah Morgan said...

This story pulls at my heart strings . What brave girls and a brave mommy. I feel like a nervous wreck thinking of you sending your girls to surgery. I'm glad everything went well!