Tubular, Unfortunately

Over the course of several months, we began to suspect that RU sometimes has problems hearing. She certainly has trouble listening sometimes, so it’s hard to tell when she’s just ignoring us and when she actually doesn’t hear us. At checkups, the doctor has found her ears red, with a lot of fluid. She’s probably been having repeated ear infections for some time. We’ve treated her with antibiotics, but it hasn’t alleviated the problem entirely.

We went to the Audiologist and our ENT yesterday. She failed her hearing test miserably and still has a lot of fluid in her ears. So she’ll be undergoing minor surgery to have tubes put in.

You’d think we would have noticed a long time ago she was having problems. But RU never complains when she has aches or pains or isn’t feeling good. Seriously, even when she was teething she might have only had one or two days of being a little testy. And it’s not like you regularly peek in your kid’s ear canal to see how it’s doing.

Nevertheless, I felt like the title of this post should be “Parenting Fail.” (I decided to save that one for something worse; I’m sure I’ll have cause to use it one of these days. Stay tuned!)

There’s no guilt you can feel quite like that when you think you may have harmed your child for life. Could she have nerve damage? If this has been so bad for so long — one eardrum currently can’t function — could it have impacted how the sound-processing part of her brain has been developing? Did I ever yell at her or make her sit out when the real problem was that she just couldn’t hear me? After kicking ourselves over this for a while, we realized we could no longer recall whether or not she’d even had her hearing tested as a newborn.

Jeez, I might as well have just cranked up some Manowar on the ipod and glued the earbuds in place.

Before yesterday, the only thing I knew about having tubes in your ears was that it meant you couldn’t swim under water. Growing up, I remember there was always that one kid who couldn’t even go swimming because his parents made such a deal about it. As someone who spent about 20% of his life between the ages of 7 and 13 under water, I was halfway convinced they were some kind of birth defect.

So I was relieved to be told that they are temporary, easy to install, and doesn’t mean she’ll drown if she gets her head wet.

I am looking forward to RU getting some relief. Her hearing has seemed to be particularly poor today, adding a sense of urgency to go along with everything else. The nerve that transmits the sense of taste to your brain runs up along the spot where she has so much fluid buildup; we’ve wondered if that explains why she sometimes doesn’t eat much. If having tubes fixes that, too (notice how I’ve leaped to assuming it is a problem at all), she might eat better, and maybe she’ll feel better if she’s not hungry and having low blood sugar all the time…

Yes, there’s no guilt like a parent’s guilt.