Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ears, etc

So, the Bean has had a lot of ear infections. She had 7 ear infections in a 5 month period, and has never had a period, since last October, where she did not have fluid in her ears. We were finally sent to see a specialist last month, and he presented ear tubes as an option.

We were initially pretty resistant to the idea of surgery. Little Bean is less than a year old, and the idea of surgery on someone so little is pretty scary. But Bean's ear infections have been chronic, and the fact that the fluid was just never draining from her ears was affecting her hearing.

We hoped that by keeping Bean on preventative antibiotics for a bit, we might give her ears a chance to finally drain, and that maybe that would help her. But even after 7 weeks straight of antibiotics, Bean still carried fluid in her ears.

When we asked my mother-in-law, Grandma K, whether Husband (or any of her children) had many ear infections, she said she didn't think so. But Husband had really delayed language development (he didn't speak at all until he was 2), and when he did start speaking it was garbled and unintelligible. He saw a speech therapist as a child to help with his early language. In retrospect, we now think that Husband probably had similar problems with his ears, which affected his hearing, which affected his language acquisition. While obviously Husband turned out fine, we wanted to help Bean avoid the problems Husband had suffered as a child.

So finally, after a lot of thought and consideration, Husband and I decided that tubes was the best way to help Bean's ears stay healthy, and to protect her hearing.

Yesterday was Bean's surgery to get her ear tubes. Bean came through surgery well and is doing fine today, though yesterday was decidedly the worst day of my life, Husband's life, and Bean's life.

We were scheduled to check in for surgery at 6:30 a.m. They put Bean first because they aren't supposed to have anything to eat after midnight the night before, and it's hard to explain to little ones why they have to fast. We got there and checked in, and about 6 different people came in and talked to us about what was going to happen. The anesthesiologist was really nice, and she was going to be holding Bean while the anesthesia took effect.

At 8:00 they took Bean back for the surgery. About 10 minutes later, I heard her crying as she came out of the anesthesia. The anesthesiologist brought her out to me about a minute later and the nurses helped me get settled in to nurse Bean as she woke up from the drugs. She cried a little and then nursed like her life depended on it. By the time she was done, she was happy and smiling and cuddling Husband and I. The surgeon came out and told us that when he made the incisions to place the tubes, the fluid that came out was viscous and nasty. He said that he usually sees fluid like that in children who either are just about to get an ear infection or who are just getting over one. He gave us antibiotic ear drops for her ears. When they gave us the okay, we took her home, arriving home around 9:00.

Bean fell asleep in the car, and slept for about the first hour after we got home. When she woke up, I thought she felt a little hot, so we took her temperature. 99.5 deg. But she was playing and happy. She started to rub her eyes, so Husband brought her to bed with him and they took a nap together for about 45 minutes. When she woke up, Husband brought her out. As soon as I touched her, I knew something was wrong. We took her temperature. 103.2 degrees. She was fussing and lethargic. We gave her tylenol and rushed to the urgent care clinic. By the time we got her into a room there, her fever had risen to 105 degrees. They gave her Motrin and we undressed her down to her diaper. Bean was crying and crying and crying. We rocked her and hugged her, but every time she would calm down, they'd come in to start another test.

Catheter to get a urine sample to rule out bladder infection. Blood draw to rule out sepsis. Chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. Exam to listen to her lungs, check her throat, look at her ears.

About 3 hours later, her temperature was down to 100 degrees, and all the tests had come back negative so they sent us home. Bean was happier and playful. Her ears had stopped oozing.

They can't really say what happened. It wouldn't have been an infection from the surgery because it happened too quickly. No bacteria grows that fast. You expect an infection to happen a day or two later, not 3 hours later. All I can say is that she has a third tooth about to pop through, she's had a cold all weekend, and it's possible that after the anesthesia and surgery her body just called shenanigans and went into crisis mode. Alternatively she may have been just about to get an ear infection (despite the antibiotics) and the surgery just triggered the fever. Who knows.

Bean's temperature was still at 100 when we put her to bed last night, but her fever broke during the night and this morning her temperature was perfect, her ears were nice and clear, and she was in a great mood. So hopefully the worst is behind us.

Anyway, thanks all of you for thinking of us. It was a terrible day, but I'm pretty convinced we did the right thing. Once her fever was gone, Bean was really "talking" a lot, and to me it felt like she was listening to how different her voice sounded with fluid-free ears. I mean, she's had fluid in her ears for literally 6 straight months. So it's probably pretty different. There was also something just qualitative different about the sounds she was making, and so it may be that this will be a really positive thing for her in the end. I sure hope so.


Nathan said...

I'm glad everything turned out okay, and I hope the three of you are all having a much better day today.

hypoglycemiagirl said...

What an ordeal! I really hope she'll be fine from now on. And way to go with the nursing!

EcoGeoFemme said...

Oh man! What a scary and terrible day. Good that she's feeling better now though.

A couple of my nieces had tubes and it was a really good experience all around -- fewer infections, better hearing, and better speech. You surely made a good decision.

The bean-mom said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear you all had such a terrible time with that fever! Poor Bean. But I'm so glad to hear that she's doing well now. Hopefully this will be the end of ear infections! Sounds like you made the right decision =)

Jane said...

Oh my goodness, how scary! Glad to hear everything's going well now.

Queen Zucchini said...

I hope this is the end of all this stress for you - you guys deserve a break!

ScienceGirl said...

What a stressful day! I hope the Bean is all better from now on!

Jenn said...

SO glad to hear that everything turned out ok, but how scary!

Janus Professor said...

I had a lot of ear infections as a kid (< 1yr old), and had tubes. It turns out that I was allergic to cow milk. Once I switched to soy, the ear infections went away. Maybe little Bean is allergic to something?