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.

4 thoughts on “Tubular, Unfortunately”

  1. PE tubes (pressure equilibration tubes) are commonly used to release pressure and drain fluids from the inner ear. The procedure takes about 5 minutes and it’s usually painless. Hopefully they’ve sent home some ear drops with you and do keep her from swimming: A little water from showering/bathing is fine, but swimming can let in too much water/hence pressure. Wait until the tubes pop out as the pressure is equalized before swimming.
    Did her pedi not check her ears during yearly check-up?
    Be well. Big hugs.

    1. If I remember correctly, at her yearly checkup, her ears where just a little bit red and she hadn’t seemed to be having any hearing issues that we’d noticed. Maybe she was just getting over something. When took her in after that, we were given antibiotics to clear up an ear infection. When we took her to the ENT sometime after that (for allergy issues), her ears were red and had lots of fluid behind them — still? again? But the hearing issue has come and gone and is usually hard to differentiate from her just acting like a three-year-old.

  2. Poor little lady. But you and Wife are on it now! Yes, you might be hyper-aware of other things for all the children now that this is in your past. I am thinking RU will feel like a whole new person after she heals from this.

    1. She is much better, yes. Her hearing is better and her appetite has vastly improved. Her listening is only slightly changed, but it’ll be easier to work on that now that we know she really is ignoring us. 🙂

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