Oct 28, 2013  •  In Aerin, Parenting, Personal

Tubes in Her Ears

Aerin has been doing wonderfully with her speech and developmental therapies. In just one month, the number of words she says has more than doubled to over 50, and she has even started to put together two-word sentences. (e.g., “Blow bubbles,” “Juice please”) She can now count to ten, and tries her best to sing along to familiar songs.

I really believed her hearing was back to normal, and both her therapists agreed.

We were wrong.

I brought Aerin to our follow-up ENT appointment this past weekend, confident that the doctor would give her a clean bill of health. But as soon as he examined her ears, he shook his head and said, “There’s still a buildup of fluid behind her eardrums. The medicine doesn’t seem to have helped…”

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Since Aerin has had fluid in both ears for over 2 months (but more likely since January, when she got her first and only ear infection), adversely affecting her hearing (and subsequently, her speech and development), the American Academy of Otolaryngology recommends that she has tubes placed in her ears.

Our doctor explained that it is a simple procedure, one that is not uncommon among children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. But it is still surgery, with anesthesia and an IV. The risks are small, but they exist.

We decided to schedule her for surgery right away. Unfortunately, the first opening they have available is November 25, right at the start of the Thanksgiving holiday week. Since the next available appointment wouldn’t be until mid-December, we took the November slot.

Despite the bad news, I’m encouraged. The fact that not only one but two professionals believed her hearing to have been fully restored due to the tremendous progress she has made in the past month tells me that not only does she have the aptitude and motivation to catch up to her peers, she will most definitely do so once her hearing is back to normal. There’s also the fact that both therapists continually remark on her intelligence and her ability to pick things up quickly and correctly. :-)  (It’s true — her developmental therapist tells me there are certain activities Aerin can do that most kids her age can’t do for another year.)

Here’s to wishing… and hoping… and thinking… and praying…

14 Responses to “Tubes in Her Ears”

  1. Jenny, I’m so sorry to hear that you all have to have surgery for Aerin but I am so glad to know that she picks things up so quickly and that this will help restore her hearing. I’ll be holding you all in my thoughts.

  2. Anja:

    Oh Jenny, don’t worry to much (or at least try). Usually I’m just a quiet reader, but this topic makes me chime in. My little brother had tubes in his ears for years. He was a bit older than Aerin when he got his first set (the doctors took a few years to notice that the poor kid could hardly hear anything … they preferred scaring my mother with all sorts of different possible disabilities).
    Anyway, he had constant infections in his ears due to a weird allergy (carrots) which was only diagnosed after years. That affected his ears, so his tubes always had to be renewed. Over the years he went through quite a lot of operations, all went well and his hearing went back up to nearly 100%. I honestly don’t think that his hearing is any worse than mine.

    Sorry for my rambling. Just wanted to know that I’m thinking of you.
    Aerin seems to be a bright little girl, she will catch up perfectly (or even overtake all the other kids).

  3. aw, sending lots of prayers your way!
    xox
    giedre

  4. Be encouraged! She’s doing great! *hugs*

  5. Emily:

    That all sounds like such great news! I’m so happy that Aerin is really thriving. Of course, the bad side is the surgery, which I know is scary for you and I haven’t had to face with my daughter, but it’s important to remember just how many kids get this exact same surgery ALL the freaking time. You’re going to be so happy when it’s over and the fluid can drain!

  6. athena:

    Jenny – please dont put tubes in her ears. you will constantly have to deal with them as you child grows and her ears develop. I have twins and was faced with the same issue. Pleae check outa local chiropractor in your area that works with kids. I found one for my boys when they were 18 months. With the proper adjustments the fluid will reduce and flow away form the ears as it should. I know you dont know me and I access this site cause of the ultra cool name ;o). If you have to wait a month before the surgery anyway try a chiropractor. I am not one of those moms that hates everthing about western medicine, or does not believe in vaccines. I just find that dr.’s default to surgery and there can be other answers

    • Thanks for your input. I’ve read about chiropractic treatments, but in Aerin’s case, because the issue is due to THICK fluid behind her eardrums that’s been there for months (as a result of one ear infection), we feel that tubes might be a better option, especially since it will be a one-time deal whereas chiropractic adjustments will need to be repeated. I know that ear tubes need to be re-inserted in up to 20% of cases, but I have read that chiropractic treatments for this issue also don’t work for up to 20% of patients. If she repeatedly gets ear infections, I would’ve definitely tried the chiropractor first.

  7. Thanks for the update. I’ve been thinking about Aerin’s story these days and wondering how she’s doing. Its so encouraging to hear that she’s making leaps and strides despite still having fluid in her ears. I’m sending positive, warm, and fuzzy thoughts your way!

  8. Landed here thanks to the Star Wars Meyers Briggs meme, but wanted to comment because we did the tubes thing with our now 3.25 yr old back in the spring. Everyone’s experience is different, of course, but I know they made a difference in her hearing (after months of repeat ear infections – or was it the same one which never cleared up fully?). I won’t say the ear infections have cleared up 100% as she’s had 2 upper-respiratory infections since the surgery, but the big big upside is that apart from a mild complaint of her ears hurting (and she rarely complained – I always caught them because of a weird fever) once the drainage started she was back to her normal self.

    The caveat here is that she also has some overly large tonsils which probably should be removed (I’m not sure whether I’m dreading or looking forward to that more at the follow-up tube check in December) which may be the true source of the repeated issues with her ears.

    Good luck with your girl, she sure is a cutie!

  9. Hi, I just discovered you today! I read your post and am praying that your daughter’s surgery is successful. I have two daughters 11 and 12 and they both have ear tubes. They got their first set when they were around 3 years old. It was really scary, especially with our first daughter. We would speak or make a noise and she wouldn’t hear us. I can’t tell you how concerned we were. My husband and I were very relieved to know that the hearing loss was not permanent. The girls are on sets 2 and 3 as the tubes do fall out. We have an awesome ENT who sees them a couple of times a year. He sometimes has to clean/drain their ears. As old as they are, they still get infections, especially if they’ve caught a cold. When my oldest daughter received her tubes, I was working at a newspaper and they published a story on she and the doctor. If I can find it, I’ll scan it in and email it to you. The surgeries are pretty routine, but no parent really wants to put their child’s life in someone else’s hands, but we know that God is in control and your little one will be just fine. Blessings.

  10. NoodleButt:

    My daughter had to have tubes at 13 months due to some of the same issues you’re describing, plus recurrent ear infections. It was the best decision we made. She was only out of our sight for 7 minutes total and, after a nap, she went from toddling around to RUNNING in the same day. Now, 18 months later one tube has fallen out and she’s ahead of her peers in development. I can’t speak for everyone’s case, but in our case, it went as smoothly as it possibly could and we don’t regret the surgery for a second. They only put them under just enough so that they don’t wiggle.

    Word of advice, be SURE you talk to the anesthesiologist beforehand. We had one of the best in the area, and he explained everything to us ahead of time. Also, you will not be allowed to accompany her into the OR, so when the doc or nurse has to take her from you, have them do it in such a way that she can see you the entire time she’s going with them. It makes the process much easier.

    Good luck!

  11. Hi Jenny :)

    Landed here as well through the Star Wars poster (brilliant post BTW!)…and thought I might share my own experiences with this…I know, I know – *another* piece of advice ;) But just curious if she may have food allergies which are causing the fluid reaction. I had dairy allergies as a child and constantly dealt with ear, nose & throat issues ALL throughout my childhood, escalating to pneumonia and having my tonsils removed @ 5. Turns out – was a dairy allergy that I didn’t discover until my teens when I quit eating ALL milk-based products. Even to this day, no dairy, no issues :) Just a thought…. Blessings to you all <3

  12. lina jones:

    oh goodness how sad. I watched an episode of Arthur the cartoon with my little boy and Arthur’s sister D.W had to get tubes in her ears. I hope it goes well. In the meantime I will pray for you Jenny

  13. Michael:

    My son was born with fluid on his ears. Failed his newborn hearing exam and everything. He wouldn’t sit still enough for the auditory tests until he was nearly three so his hearing and speech were pretty severely impaired. We used to joke that his older sister (by 16 months) was the only one in the family who could “speak Micah”. He finally got through the testing and got a set of tubes. Miracle – that very afternoon there was a marked improvement. He immediately started mimicking sounds and has never slowed down! God bless you and your family with similar success.

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