At least we are making the co-pay count. We went back to the pediatrician’s office last Monday to check on Cooper’s ears since it had been a week after his last round of antibiotics and everything looked great. The next night, Cooper started a pretty nasty cough which escalated to a near-constant cough and utter exhaustion on Wednesday. We went straight from school back to the doctor’s office where we found out (after yet another lengthy stay in the waiting room) that while his lungs were clear, his ears were not. Not infected just yet, mind you, but filled with gunk yet again. The doctor hesitated putting him on any medication since there was really nothing to treat yet but gave me the go-ahead to call the ENT directly on Friday if Cooper didn’t improve. Cooper got progressively less miserable as the week went on but I was worried that he still seemed like he was fighting something and we were going into the weekend. I called the ENT but couldn’t get an appointment until this past Monday. I decided against going to the pediatrician instead that day and figured I would just take him to any doctor over the weekend if it looked like his ears were bothering him. He was in great spirits and slept well all weekend but I thought I’d go ahead and keep the ENT appointment anyways on Monday just so that I could talk to them directly.
So off to this specialist we went, this one just down the hall from his allergist. More waiting then more discussion of medical history. And then more looking into Cooper’s ears, where not only she saw more fluid hanging around but also another ear infection. She gave me the option of just treating this latest infection and seeing what happened next or going ahead with putting in ear tubes. I suppose I should have looked like I debated the decision for longer but I walked into this office ready to end this cycle. We scheduled the procedure for the following week.
Next, the audiologist tested Cooper’s ears for how much fluid was present and any potential hearing loss. This has been a concern of mine. I realize all kids are different but at this age Maxon had a number of distinct words and sounds and Cooper just has a couple of vague sounds and babbling. He definitely has some comprehension but seems a little slower to try new words. He also seems to have more balance issues, particularly when he has the sniffles, which is usually when we discover his ears are infected. The test for fluid showed his ears are completely filled. The next test involved putting these giant earphones on and watching to see if Cooper turned his head to where the sound seemed to be coming from. I really wanted to take a picture of this one but my hands were occupied keeping Cooper from ripping off the headphones. The last test confirmed he could hear high-pitched sounds but he was missing some of the lower-pitched sounds. The audiologist didn’t seem very concerned though and thought the minor loss of hearing was from existing fluid in his ears.
I have to admit I have very high hopes after the tubes are put in. I expect that I won’t see him falter when he is walking with a toy. I know he is a novice walker and all and he is still figuring things out but there is a difference between this-is-all-new-to-me and which-way-is-my-head-screwed-on. I expect that he will be able to distinguish subtle sounds. Right now, if I say “tea” or some other long E sound, he’ll look at me and sign “please” because that’s what he thought he heard. I also expect a lot less waiting, like waiting to hear back from the phone triage nurse to see if I should bring Cooper in again, or waiting to be seen even after we’ve gotten there on time, or waiting to get the latest antibiotic prescription filled even though they “promised” a ready time. I think we have all waited long enough.