Ear, Ear

After 10 months with tubes, Kate has an ear infection.

And her behavior tonight, after the diagnosis of said infection, makes me wonder how long she has been in pain.

It would explain so much: the poor sleep, the poor eating, the temper tantrums. I mean, not that last one 100% — she is 3, after all — but you would be cranky too if, after 10 months, that special hellish pain — pain that you had lived with for approximately 16 months of your 27-months-long life — pain that had wholly disappeared, was suddenly back. And with a vengeance if that goop draining out of her ear is any indication.

Dan and I have been taking turns talking her down from another epic tantrum. I would just put her to bed, but we have to get some medicine in her. Oral antibiotics AND drops. But we’re not doing anything until she chills the heck out.

Talk, Talk

I had the longest conversation I’ve ever had with Kate recently. It wasn’t ground-breaking stuff, but it was an actual conversation, give-and-take. Her big sister isn’t even that great at the give-and-take stuff.

She was asking me questions, waiting for answers, and responding to the answers. Which sounds suspiciously like “listening” to me.

That can’t be right.

We talked about where Flora was (downstairs). We talked about what we were going to do after Aiysha changed her diaper (go get Flora and go to the farmers market). She pointed out the colors of things on the wall to me (“It’s a red apple. It’s a blue bird.”)

Shortly after Kate got her ear tubes in April — say, about two weeks later — her language took off. She had always been developmentally appropriate, but it went from two or three word sentences to five, six, seven words. From observations to questions, then checking on the answers to the questions. She started using language to make sense of things and comply with us (“First you get your diaper changed. Then we go outside to play.” “First you eat some peas. Then you can have a treat.”)

The world, it seems, started to make a different kind of sense to her. And it continues. She asks questions: “Where is Flora?’ “What are we doing after ‘yisha changes my diaper?” And after that? And after that? She pays attention. “Flora’s downstairs,” she’ll tell me. “It’s time to go to the farmers market.”

She seems to be actively seeking information now — she seems to realize how that works. And not in the rapid-fire way of her sister, who can’t let you get a word in — Flora just fires questions and requests at me; sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m answering. (This is not a critique of my older daughter. They are just wildly different girls. Which is just the way it is. I can extol Flora elsewhere.)

Of course, this will have its downsides too. Her first question this morning, for example, was, “Will you buy me Pet Shops?”

Some Quick Updates

Knock on wood before you read this, but, I think things are going well with ear tubes and Bun. I had been worried; she ran a little fever last week, and this week she’s been fussing at her ears. So I took her to the pediatrician to see if everything was clear.

Her ears are all clear: no fluid, so no infection. However, the doctor observed that her throat was a little red and her nose was completely stuffed. “Do you think it’s allergies?” I asked. She said she did think that, especially with the way Bun was mouth breathing. So we’re going to try a daily dose of children’s Claritin at bedtime and see how it goes. I may put Monkey on it too; not only does she mouth-breath, she snores very loudly when she sleeps. Also, she sometimes has coughing jags at night. They usually don’t wake her up, but they are bothersome. You can see she’s not resting well.

I just called my delicate little flowers mouth breathers. Nice mom.

We go back to the ENT June 4.

****

DearDR and I are spending the weekend in the house. All alone. My mom and dad have the girls in Erie for the weekend. I packed raincoats and rainboots. Forgot the umbrellas though.

And while a weekend at home sans children has myriad possibilities for fun (and these have not been completely ruled out) the fact of the matter is that we will be cleaning, sorting, steam cleaning, and painting. We are turning the Big Room, currently the guest room/Bun’s room, into the Girls’ Bedroom. We are turning what is currently Monkey’s room (aka the Little Room) into the Guest Room.

I will have pictures. I am equal parts excited and apprehensive. I think the rooms are going to look great when they are done. I hope we haven’t overestimated what we can accomplish in 48 hours (not counting eating and sleeping).

We’ll see. I showed DearDR the colors Monkey and I picked for their room. He groaned, “Why pink and purple?” I said, “You are the father of girls.”

****

In spite of my daughter thinking I am 40 years old, I have heard from many people (primarily at Plurkville) who thought I was much younger, and I just want to thank them all. The high guess I got was 32 (the low was 28). That makes a girl feel pretty good. I attribute my youthful appearance to a few things:

1. Genetics. You would never guess that my mom is 64. I keep forgetting.
2. Drinking lots of water.
3. Moisturizer. During the day, moisturizer with SPF 15; foundation with SPF, too.
4. Sunscreen.
5. Flaxseed oil capsules. I started taking them at my hairstylist’s suggestion. My hair was getting really dry. The capsules plus a deeper conditioning treatment did the trick.

For all the flattery, I do have my suspicions. Like, perhaps some of these people need glasses, or that it’s my maturity level that makes me seem younger than I am. But I figure that’s just my paranoia talking. Right?

Random Thoughts: Thursday Quickies

Look for Lost thoughts tomorrow. I have to write a little bit about “Some Like It Hoth” from two weeks ago along with last night’s episode.

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Dear Bun, Please stop getting sick. Or, conversely, if you’re not really sick, please stop that yellowish goo from coming out of your nose. You have no fever, you are sleeping great, eating well, and… your energy is certainly not diminished. To put it mildly. So you’ve got ear tubes now, which is great, although it seems to mean that all that crap that got trapped behind your eardrums now is free to flow copiously out of your left nostril.

It’s really disgusting, honey. Please clear up. Thanks. Love, Mommy

****

Dear Monkey, I know: you want Daddy. I know. I cannot provide Daddy at my whim, or yours — oh, would that I could. And I know that my inability to produce Daddy at your whim, along with my being such a hardliner about meals and baths and bedtimes makes me a mean mommy, but having you tell me that with tears standing in your pretty baby blues really hurts my feelings. I don’t get to spend much time with you these days, and I would like our time together to be more pleasant and less frustrating for both of us. Let’s work on it, okay? Thanks. Love, Mommy.

****

I started The Thirteenth Tale, and I joined Goodreads (both at the suggestion of Kelly at Peace, Love and Flowers). I’m excited about these developments, which pretty much goes to prove what a literary geek I am.

****

Still looking for a babysitter for May 1 so DearDR and I can go see the premiere of Wolverine. Any takers?

And yes, DearDR knows I have a thing for Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine). That’s why we’re going — correction, trying to go — to the premiere. Because DearDR loves me very much and wants to see me happy. Heck, he even brought me the Entertainment Weekly magazine with Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine) on the cover. In Wolverine’s signature wife beater. Be still my heart.

I may be a literary geek, but I’m still a flesh-and-blood woman. Hear me *rowr*.

****

I know there’s been a lot of fist-shaking at the media about all this Swine Flu reporting — oh, sorry, H1N1 — but this image has been making me laugh for days now. Thanks to Brandon at thinkoutsidethepun.blogspot.com.

And look at it this way: If it were something truly serious, wouldn’t you want this level of alert? The government and the media are just trying to do their jobs, and inspire confidence in the systems used to warn people about this stuff. It sucks that it can raise anxiety levels for a disease that’s just like the regular flu, pretty much, but what’s that old saying?

Better safe than sorry.

Whew.

Bun pulled through like the champ she is. They make you do a lot of waiting for a procedure that only takes about 15 minutes, though! It was a very long Monday.

When the doctor came out to me, he asked if Bun had been acting okay. I said she had been, wondering why. He told me that while her right ear had been clear of infection, her left ear was really bad. I responded, “Well, she does have a really high pain tolerance.” He nodded. “You know,” he observed, “she probably thinks that pain in her ears in normal. I think you’re going to see a happier child.”

When I do the math, I boggle a bit. Bun’s been alive for 28 months. Factoring in last year, she’s probably had ear infections over, say, 16 of those months (counting from November to April). Can you imagine being a 2-year-old who has had chronic pain? Who thinks that ear pain — on top of teething pain, no less — is probably normal? If someone did something to take that away, even if it were a little scary at the time, wouldn’t you be happy, too? No wonder kids are completely different people afterwards!

And Bun, at the very last moment, did get scared. She slept badly (probably because of that raging infection in one of her ears, even though she was on antibiotics), and was quite put out that she couldn’t eat yesterday morning. I couldn’t even give her a glass of water. She got pretty feisty in the waiting room, but wasn’t too much trouble. After about half an hour, they called us back to get her ready for the surgery: I had to dress her in a loverly hospital gown and non-skid socks. There was a toy push-type car that the kids could ride in back there, and Bun’s favorite thing: other kids. She made three friends while we were waiting. With the exception of a little boy who was probably about a year old, she was the youngest child I saw. (She was also the most verbal, surprisingly. And she took turns in that car amazingly well, without one protest. I was proud of her!)

After almost another hour, they came to take her back for “magic air” and the procedure. When Bun realized that I wasn’t going back with her, she went totally boneless. She didn’t scream or cry or really even struggle, but if you’ve ever had a 2-year-old go utterly limp in your arms when you’re trying to get her to do something she doesn’t want to do — well, it presented a challenge. I comforted her, and made sure she had Cuddle (her lovie), but the look she was shooting me was both accusatory and pleading.

I did not break down. The quiet whisper of faith I had been waiting for finally showed up, and I knew she would be fine.

I finished my coffee back in the waiting room (well, in the cafe outside the waiting room), called DearDR, and went back into the waiting room. The doctor came right out and told me Bun was done, and she had done great.

She has to have drops for the next few days, but other than that, she can resume normal activity. We’ll have to get earplugs for swimming and bath time (for bath time, we can also use cotton balls with Vaseline over them). In about 12 to 18 months the tubes fall out (if someone can tell me what that is like, I would appreciate it), and also by that time, we hope, she’ll have outgrown the problem that causes ear infections. I have my fingers crossed.

A big, huge thank you to everyone who has given me support and encouragement and who said some prayers for my little girl. After months and month of agonizing over this, I truly feel we did the right thing. I’m really glad it’s over!

Ear Update

Thursday the verdict came in: Bun needs ear tubes. The current infection she has must be the eighth one this winter (at least the eighth — I’ve lost track) and the antibiotic she is taking for it is not kicking it. She is scheduled to go in Monday.

I am having many emotions about the whole thing. The encouraging thing has been all the support I have gotten here and elsewhere from other parents, regardless of whether or not their kids have had tubes. To a woman and man, I’ve heard nothing but good things, most along the lines of: “He/she was a completely different child afterwards.”

Reading back over what I have written, I feel pretty defeated, resigned. I was dead set against them, and we tried some alternative remedies — albeit maybe not enough chiropractic visits — but nothing has worked. And now the antibiotics are on the verge of not working either.

Looking at the history here, tubes seem so inevitable. The constant running to the doctor and the pharmacy and the chiropractor (when I could — to say that the chiropractor was difficult to get to would be understating the case; his hours were hard for this working mama, and he didn’t accept my insurance; LOVED the guy, and I miss going with the girls, but it was HARD) and leaving work early or going in late and over and over and over again.

So: tubes. Monday. I’m trying not to freak out — it is a 15 minute surgery, the guy we’re going to comes highly recommended from several sources, it’s going to be fine. Freaking out anyway, a little bit. It’s my Bun, my little girl. The most encouraging mention about tubes I got is from my friend who is a nurse anesthestist who says these surgeries are the quickest, easiest, busiest days she has had.

I am on the mend; DearDR seems to be verging on unwell, although he hasn’t had the most physically easy week; Monkey has an ear infection, too. DearDR took her, so I don’t know if tubes were mentioned. I could have wished for a better Friday, but we’re all still here. And the weather is rocking, so today we’re going to the park.

Best Intentions

I was going to throw up a post later this morning. It was going to be quick and short and random, mostly about how having to do laundry next door is putting a drag on my evening computer activities (blogging, plurking).

But now, Monkey is crying about how much her ear hurts, and she just threw up a lot of spit — not vomit — on my rug. So I’ll just throw this up now — no pun intended — to still be in compliance with Blog365. And then take her to the doctor.

Incidentally, took Bun to the ENT yesterday. She has fluid in her ears, but no infection. The doctor advised waiting at least three months, and rechecking her ears at that time. Barring infection of course.

More later.

Update: Indeed, Monkey has a raging ear infection in her left ear. No fever, no cold symptoms, and no more volumes of spit on the floor. I got the prescription filled and took her to daycare.

Today’s doctor suggested maybe removing her tonsils and/or adenoids may help with the infections. She said that the effectiveness of tubes is under review — Children’s wants to do another study. She asked if Monkey snores at night, and I said yes, she does. Monkey snores very loudly at night; she gives her daddy a run for his money in the sawing logs department. So it’s something else to look into.

The Internet, of course, has a variety of information and opinions, for and against. I’ll have to do more research, and probably see another specialist. And I wonder what impact this will have on Bun.

I just want the ear infections to end, and I get queasy when I consider all the antibiotics my girls get. I thought that Monkey would have outgrown them by now, but she hasn’t. The only year she missed having infections was from 2 to 3 years old.

Coincidentally, the same year that I was a SAHM. Bring on the mommy guilt!

I am very tired of doing this year after year. And even if Monkey were to outgrow them this year, I would still have another two years to go with Bun. What to do?

Some days, being a mommy is harder than others.

Back on the Merry-Go-Round

Last Thursday was Bun’s 2-year-old check up. They now do an autism screening questionnaire at this check up (I don’t recall them doing it for Monkey). One of the questions is, “Do you sometimes think your child is deaf?”

And I confess to thinking, “Jeez, doesn’t every parent think his or her child is deaf on occasion??”

The good news is that Bun tests normal on that questionnaire. Additionally, she’s in the 90th percentile for height and the 50th percentile for weight, so unfortunately that toddler belly is not making a comeback anytime soon. Color me not surprised.

The bad news is we have been, once again, referred to an ENT. Bun and I are going in early February.

[Aside: I made the appointment in Wexford, because that office is much easier for me to get to. DCL — the redoubtable DCL — is urging me to make the appointment in Oakland at Children’s.

I do not want to drive to Oakland. This attitude primarily bums me out because it reveals what a suburbanite I’ve become. “Oh, the traffic, the parking, whine whine whine.” Should I suck it up, and if I can get in earlier, should I drive into Oakland?]

Back to the point: this go-’round is no fun. Bun is currently on her fifth antibiotic this winter alone (dating to before Thanksgiving). That’s two ear infections (the latest one of which seems to be lingering) and one sinus infection.

What was most alarming at this most recent appointment: the doctor (whom I think of as Hot Doc, with all apologies to my own hot doc, DearDR) took his time rechecking her ears. After looking in her left ear, he said, “That one’s clear. But, I can tell that she’s had repeated ear infections, just looking in there.”

Gah!

My pediatricians are not alarmists. They are all very calm, very cool. I really like almost every one of the docs at the practice, too. They are not dismissive; they do not condescend; the answer all my questions. They are awesome with my kids, to a man and woman.

So I felt that a statement like, “I can tell she’s had repeated infections” was scary. He went on to say, “You don’t want to get into scarring, and hearing problems, so if there’s an infection in the other ear, I’m going to refer you to an ENT again.”

The other ear was still infected.

Off we go. I really liked the doctor we saw last time in Wexford, so that was another deciding factor in heading that direction.

I don’t think this latest antibiotic is helping her, either. My poor Bun.

Maybe quitting the binky will help. I may also ask about a month of antibiotics before we go to tubes, see what the prevailing feeling is.

I just want Bun to be better. Maybe it is something she will outgrow — probably. But in the meantime, it’s tough on everyone. Especially Bun — and me!

What You’ve Missed

We have had some technical difficulties, and I haven’t been able to download pictures from my camera for months. It was the digital-age equivilant of all those rolls of film you keep meaning to take to get developed, but never get around to.

These difficulties have finally been resolved, so I’ve a few images from the past few months to share.

But first!

We went to the ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat) doctor on Monday, and it could not have been a more different experience than what I was expecting. Except for the “great with kids” part — I mean, it’s part of their name. They should be great with kids.

The upshot is: No ear tubes. The doctor was really honest, and after talking with me, reviewing their charts, and checking the kids’ ears and throats, he just basically said there was nothing that indicated that they needed ear tubes any time soon.

He said that if they should develop infections over the summer, then tubes could be indicated. If they get a bunch of them this fall and winter, tubes are an option. But for the time being, in the absence of any other indicators (no fluid in the ear, no current infection, no sore throats or toncellitis [sic]), then they were in the clear. He also suggested that one reason for their rash of infections could be because of their return to daycare. Now that their immune systems have gotten a boost, we should see fewer colds, etc.

Here’s hoping! I was really relieved. I though I was going to meet a more aggressive doctor. He summed it up by saying, “If they were my kids, I wouldn’t get tubes now.” That pretty much clinched it.

We’re taking off for Seven Springs shortly. If my sis has her laptop with her, I’ll try to throw something on the blog, but it’s not going to be a top priority, if you can imagine.

In the meantime, here are some fun, photographic moments:

My little audiophile!

Happy Mother’s Day (a little late…)

Bella’s summer outdoor gift:

“I grew some hair since you were away.”

Future tomato:

Cherry tomatoes:

HUG!

Happy Independence Day!