Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"It's Good, It's Good to Hear With Ears!"

Several months ago, I was beginning to become concerned about Jane's speech development. I was at a cooking class when one of the teachers was talking about his son's speech delay due to ear infections and constant fluid in the ears, and I thought that maybe Jane was not progressing because she had also had several ear infections. 

About a week after that, Jane got another ear infection and one of her eardrums ruptured. I talked to her pediatrician and told him my concerns about her speech development. They recommended Kids on The Move (a program dedicated for families of kids with special needs) and set up an appointment for them to come to our home and do a speech evaluation assessment to see if Jane would qualify for their early intervention program. 

So in March, they came to our house and did the assessment, but her scores were above the requirements so she didn't qualify for the program, which was good, but I still felt like something was not quite right. So a week later, they sent in a nurse to do an Otoacoustic Emissions hearing test for Jane, but she ended up failing in both of her ears. The nurse checked her ears and saw fluid in both, so she concluded that her failing the test was due to the fluid. She recommended and ENT and said that putting tubes in place would be an easy fix and Jane's ears would be good as new.

So I called the pediatrician back and the nurse who was relaying all his messages seemed very hesitant and opinionated about me not doing tubes for Jane, which was frustrating as first because i just wanted to fix the problem right away. But she told me to have Jane evaluated by an ENT first and see what he thought before making an appointment for the surgery--and I'm so glad I listened to her. 

After waiting a few weeks to get into the ENT, I took Jane in and an Audiologist did the same OE test that the nurse had done in our home, and Jane failed again, but this time she didn't have any fluid in her ears. 
Jane was SO patient and calm at the office and sat perfectly still during the hearing test. All the workers called her "the best patient ever!" and that really calmed me down. What a way to make a worried mamma feel good. :)


The ENT came in to talk about her results and said that she had negative pressure in both of her ears, which is why her ear drums weren't vibrating like they should. He compared it to when you drive through the canyon and the pressure in your ears change and ache a little until you yawn or pop them somehow. He didn't seem very concerned and set up an appointment for us to return for the same test in a month to see if there would be any improvement.

Everything he told me made sense, but as soon as I stepped out of the office and got in my car I immediately had a million questions race through my head--basically every time I finish with a doctor appointment.

So after waiting a long month and not really knowing what the next step would be or if anything was likely to change, we finally went in for her followup this morning. I was feeling somewhat hopeful since I had been feeling like Jane's speech was improving just a little bit. But we met with the audiologist and she immediately failed the OE test again with the same results as last time. Again, Jane was so still and didn't move a muscle when we did the hearing test. I would place my hand on her forehead and pull her head back against my chest, and she would just sit there, only moving her eyes around. It was the sweetest thing and everyone was impressed with how still she was.

The audiologist had me sit with Jane in my lap in a sound isolation room while he spoke in a microphone and put off sounds at different frequencies to see Jane's reactions. She barely passed all frequencies except one.

We met back up with the ENT and he drew a picture of the ear and explained the negative pressure and what that meant, then said that sometimes when babies are born, the tubes that regulated pressure which are connected to the back side of their ear drum (Eustachian tube?) aren't fully developed, but usually do over time. So he thought that Jane was just a little behind with that developing and it would correct itself. So we made another appointment for three months from now to retake the OE test and see if anything has changed. If not, he said the next step would be to take her to Primary Children's to do an auditory Brainstem Response. That doesn't really mean much to me, but at least I know what the next step will be if she fails again.

The good news is she can still hear, it just isn't as clear as it should be so we just need to be extra diligent about enunciating things and reading to her more. I'm just in the waiting process, not knowing what the long term plan is, but I've felt surprisingly calm during this whole thing and glad that it isn't more serious and also very glad the visit itself was not stressful since I have the Best Patient Ever! :)

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