Friday, June 15, 2007

Mommy, what's that?

In February both Chase and I came down with the flu, despite his having the flu shot. I call it a hazard of my work environment since I'm constantly being touched, loved on, and patted by 22 six and seven year olds. You can only build so many immunities to those little suckers! Fortunately Chase's case was much more milder than mine and he was feeling better pretty quick. However, with the flu came his second double ear infection. We'd been pretty lucky until and he'd only had one ear infection before (a double) when he was a year old. That time it took five weeks to clear it out and three antibiotics, but it did eventually clear. This time didn't prove quite as easy. If you know Chase, he is not a complainer. It's hard to tell when he's sick. In fact, it's almost impossible. I don't know if he got tough when we battled reflux for the first 17 months of his life and learned to just deal with things or if he's like his Mommy and has a high pain tolerance, but one things for sure, he's a tough cookie. This can prove to be quite the challenge at times.

When the 2nd ear infection rolled around we fought hard. We went through two antibiotics and thought it was licked because he seemed fine. Then one day I caught a brief glimpse of him just not acting like himself and figured we'd better get it rechecked just to be safe. Sure enough after four weeks and two antibiotics, it was still raging. So, we went through 4 more weeks and two more antibiotics. By this time the ear infection had been brewing for a nasty 10 weeks and we were at our wits end. We decided to give a *super* antibiotic a try as our last hope, but due to fear of Chase building a immunity to antibiotics, we knew it was our last shot. 2 more weeks go by and it was even worse. Damn it! By now our pedi was worried about hearing loss and permanence of it, so we knew it was time to move on to an ENT. Chase talked and others could understand him, so we didn't really think it was a problem, but hearing is definitely not something to mess with.

The ENT got us in within days, guess 12 weeks with the same ear infection really is something to worry about. It broke my heart to know that Chase was 1) dealing with the pain and 2) thought it was normal. First thing on the list, a hearing test. I sat in a chair in a large box with Chase on my lap. The test administrator placed an instrument of sorts in Chase's ears and it read the vibrations that Chase produced in response to whatever she did. Failed...both. Crap. Then she closed us in the box and went around to a window on the other side. Inside the box with us were two tall speakers, one of which had a panda that played the drums on top and one that had a monkey that played the symbols. For the next 10 minutes or so she would ask Chase to point to certain things and play sounds through the speakers trying to entice Chase to turn his head in the particular direction. Every once in a while the monkey or panda would go hysterical beating on their given instruments. To be honest, I was surprised that Chase didn't freak out, but he didn't. When the test was completed, again we were told he failed and that he was showing hearing loss in one or both ears. Not what a mother wants to hear. As I sat w/my head spinning at that thought of my sweet baby boy suffering hearing loss, she either realized that that I was about to hyperventilate or cry and quickly reassured me that it was being caused by the fluid and would be restored as soon as we could get the fluid taken care of. What a relief, at least I could breath again.

We had been told that Dr. N was good, but true to all surgeons lacking in the whole bed-side manner thing. I truly expected a "to the point w/no softening it up" kind of guy, but I really felt that he truly cared not only about Chase, but about us. He looked at his chart and his ears and told us what we knew was coming, Chase would need tubes. Then the icing on the cake, Chase's hearing would be restored immediately! Two weeks later we had Chase's surgery and it was smooth sailing. I was a nervous wreck and cried as he was carried from my arms, but within 10 minutes Dr. N was in the room telling us that all had gone well and Chase was in recovery. I joke that the reason this surgery costs us so much was because Chase charmed the nurses and I don't think they put him down the entire time he was there. A nurse carried him to the surgery (and made the anesthesiologist push the bed - another extra charge I'm sure) and a nurse was carrying him when they took us to him. My boy is such a ladies man! Did I mention the cocktail they gave him turned him into a complete goofball?

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Now, on to the entire point of this overly long blog.... the hearing. Jeff and I never realized just how much this ear infection had truly affected Chase's hearing. After all he talked a lot and we could understand him, so we figured he was fine. Others could understand him, so it wasn't like he was speaking his own language either. But, in reality, there was a problem and looking back I can see it. I should have known when the night before his surgery a horrible storm blew through that I'm pretty sure involved a tornado. I woke up in a panic at the sounds, ran to look out the window, and minutes later part of our fence was blown down. I waited by Chase's door for him to wake up because if the thunder didn't scare him, then certainly the lightening would. He never even stirred, that should have been a dead give-a-way (but then again Jeff only woke up because I woke him up, so maybe it is genetic).

Immediately after the surgery we saw a change in our little doodlebug. We were at Memaw and Pawpaw's when a baby goat called out for it's mother. That was when it all started. Chase has been around the goats since he was born and surely knows the sound of a baby goat, right? Well he stopped dead in his tracks, turned to me, and said, "Mommy, what's that?" Like a sweet sound he had just heard for the first time. I replied that it was a baby goat calling for his Mommy to which he repeated, "Baby Goat" with a look of pure joy on his face. Second later the a/c kicked on and the scene was repeated, "Mommy, what's that?" "That was the air conditioner." "The air conditioner?" Another new and wonderful sound that he could hear. I will say that at his 2 week post-op, he did fail one hearing test, but only because there is still a blood-clot in his left ear and it was blocking the machines vibrations. In his ENT's book, surgery was a success and Chase has been released to his pedi.

Over the past month Chase's speech had skyrocketed and I realize just how bad it had been. I'm so thankful we got it fixed and I'm continually amazed at how Chase listens to everything and reminds me daily that we just need to slow down and enjoy the little things. He probably asks us, "what's that" a 100 times a day and when I catch myself getting frustrated I try to remind myself just how easily we never could have heard that question.

To end, I'll give you a synopsis of our bedtime last night. My mother and niece spent the night, so Chase slept with us. This is rare, so it's a treat... usually.

Everyone is in bed and all the lights are out.

"Mommy, what's that?" "That was the house creaking." "The House?" "Yes Chase, the house. Now let's go to sleep." "OK"

"Mommy, what's that?" "That was the computer making a noise." "The Computer? I type to my Daddy on the computer." "Yes Chase, you do. Now let's go to sleep." "OK"

"Mommy, what's that?" "That is Casper snoring, because HE'S sleeping." "That was Casper? I love Casper?" "I know you do Chase and Casper loves you. Now let's go to sleep." "OK"

"Mommy, what's that?" "That was Mommy yawning because she's tired." "Mommy yawning? I love my Mommy." "Mommy loves you too, now let's go to sleep." "OK"

Then our sweet one gave us both a kiss and only 30 minutes and 10 questions later, he drifted off to a sweet slumber.

Thank heaven for little ones, they teach us oh so much.


Josie said...

I love this story! I know exactly what you mean about the frustration of constantly answering the "What's That?" all the time. But don't feel bad about not realizing that he couldn't hear it all. Makayla was 5 when we got her eyes checked and realized how badly she needed glasses. Remember, these little sweet things didn't come with instruction manuals! Or MUTE buttons. ;-)