02 June 2013

Owen and the Ear Tubes

About a month ago, Owen went in for a hearing test. He has had almost constant ear infections since last October, taking tons of antibiotics that were giving him really horrible diaper rashes (and giving my cloth diapers a hard time, too). It was pretty horrible over the winter. When he went in for his 18 month well baby check up, we spoke with his pediatrician (we go to Virginia Pediatrics and Adolescent Center in Springfield, and we LOVE them - every doctor and nurse is awesome, also a location in Fairfax, I think) about our concerns that he was not hearing us very well and that his speech isn't where it should be. She sent him to the ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialists of Northern Virginia, also in Springfield but with locations throughout NOVA, and they were awesome- highly recommend Dr. Roser) where he failed the vast majority of the hearing test and she also said that he had so much fluid in his ears that his ear drum wasn't vibrating at all. No movement= no hearing.

Poor little man! Wandering around for months, not being able to hear much of anything, probably in lots of pain.... ear infections are nasty business. I got an ear infection right before Christmas and it was so bad that I went into the ER one morning crying, I just don't know how kids do it.

So we decided to go ahead and do the ear tube surgery. While I normally don't automatically go for a medical procedure, even one as routine as this, we were really concerned that his speech delay/hearing loss would have major repercussions.

We scheduled the surgery for last Tuesday at Virginia Medical Center in Arlington. I have to say that everyone in that hospital was friendly, nice, and happy. It was great. The hospital is so clean, too. Highly recommend.

We had to be there 2 hours before his surgery so at 5:30, I work Owen up and we headed out the door. I was really worried that he was going to be so hungry and upset since his surgery wasn't until 8, but we did ok. I made a point of nursing him at 3:30am to tide him over, and between that and his post surgery recovery time, I have probably rarely been that happy that I breastfeed my children into toddlerhood.

We were in our hospital room in the surgery center by 6:30 and I had to spend the next hour and a half entertaining a little boy who does not sit still EVER. It wasn't awesome, especially since I also had to sign papers and talk to doctors/nurses throughout this.

There was a little boy in the room next to us that was scheduled for the same ear tube surgery right before us, so once he went in for his surgery they brought me a little wagon that he had been using and we were able to spend about half and hour just walking around the surgery center. That definitely helped pass the time a little better.

The little boy next door was brought back and woken up from his anesthesia and he just started screaming bloody murder. The nurses said that was perfectly normal, that it's a kind of amnesia some children go through after surgery. They are very disoriented and inconsolable. I was dreading that happening to Owen, so I was hoping my plan to start nursing him as soon as they let me would help a little.

We walked back with one of the nurses to the OR. I had dressed Owen in fleece footy jammies thinking that he would be could b/c I always get cold when I have a procedure done, but the OR was nice and toasty and they had a nice pile of warm blankets there, too. I help him while they put the mask over him to put him to sleep. He struggled and was pretty upset but was out within 60 seconds, probably closer to 30 seconds, in fact. At that point, one of the nurses walked me back to our room where I waited for about 5 minutes before they brought him back to me, still asleep, with cotton in his ears. They gave him some anti-neausea medicine in the OR as well as an ibuprofen-type medication.

I took him from the nurse and asked Dr. Roser if I could nurse him. She clearly has no children or has never breastfed before, because she kind of laughed and said, "I doubt he will be able to!" Of course he latched right on, stayed asleep and slept/nursed for about 15-20 minutes. He started waking up a couple of times, but just looked at me and when back to sleep. Eventually the nurse said we could go whenever we were ready so I began to wake him up, he had a graham cracker and some watered down apple juice and we went home. No tears, no crying, nothing. Just my normal happy boy. I credit the breastfeeding, it is magic.  
He can hear us now, he is speaking clearer and has more words. It is so wonderful. It is so nice to interact with him and know he is hearing us.    

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