What were you was hoping to understand from the Tympanostomy?
And so we began our journey. We wanted to know about Alexandra’s ear health and hopefully, a resolution to all of the ear infections.
Alexandra had been in and out of the pediatrician’s office for 7 months with Otitis Media an infection of the middle ear infection yet she still had not had a hearing test. When I pressed the doctors about Alexandra’s lack of response to verbal cues, it was attributed to the fluid in her ears and her multitude of ear infections. Never once did we consider that she was deaf.
Less than a month later, we’re back at the doctor’s for Alexandra’s 5th ear infection. She’s barely 8 months old. I brought up my concerns again with the doctor; Alexandra isn’t responding to sounds. Seemingly untroubled by this, he told me it was normal for children with ear issues to have a slower response to hearing and babble. He did suggest that we have tubes put in her ears so that the fluid build-up would be able to drain, which would enable her tiny eardrums to equalize the pressure. He felt that although she was on antibiotics, the ear infections were returning so quickly because the infections in her ear canals were never draining fully. He told me that once there was no fluid in her ears the sound would travel more fluently through her ear canal and she would more than likely respond to external sounds and voices and begin babbling and chortling.
The doctor proceeded to schedule the “tube” surgery, officially a myringotomy. The doctor or surgeon makes a tiny incision in the eardrum and in most cases a small plastic tube (a Tympanostomy tube) is inserted into the eardrum to keep the middle ear aerated for a prolonged period of time anywhere from six months to several years.
I was incredibly optimistic that this surgery would be the answer to all of Alexandra’s ear problems. Here was the plan: we would take her in, have this minimally invasive surgery done and BAM! we would be back on track to a healthy daughter, her hearing fully restored. And so it seemed. Two weeks later at 6AM we checked into the University of Louisville Hospital for Alexandra’s first ear surgery. The surgery took less then 30 minutes and within the hour my baby girl was sleeping soundly in my arms.
It wasn’t to last. Three weeks later Alexandra experienced severe pain and discomfort. For the life of me I could not figure out what was going on. Back to the doctor’s office to discover that Alexandra was suffering from an allergic reaction to the plastic tubes they had inserted in her eardrums. Her body was already rejecting the tubes. The doctor easily removed the tubes that were already protruding from her ears. He suggested we let the ears heal for a couple of weeks and do the same surgery again using titanium tubes. And as a precautionary method he suggested we have her adenoids removed to avoid any future ear issues. So, that’s what we did.
The second surgery was a success. Woo-hoo! The ears drained and the infections subsided -- temporarily. In a matter of a weeks our baby’s ears developed yet another painful infection. This is when things became even more complicated. Alexandra’s ears rejected the titanium shafts and our options were drastically reduced. “What next?” we kept asking ourselves. Over the next few months we tried a multitude of antibiotics; Amoxicillin, Zithromax, Keflex. You name it, we tried it; nothing would permanently kill the infection in our infant daughter. I was told that the only “next step” available to us was to do an 4 hour IV antibiotic infusion at the hospital. So, that is what we did. Again at the mercy of the doctor and his suggestion we opted for this procedure in hopes that yet again Alexandra would be pain/infection free. This procedure was also a short time success. Alexandra did go for 10 weeks without an infection and it did give us time to assess her non-hearing situation, and she was clinically declared deaf/Hard of hearing when she was 13 months old.
The doctors felt that her early experiences with the antibiotics had caused her little body to create immunity to the drugs. The only other option was to go for a stronger, more powerful drug. I felt like a complete and total failure as a mother. Was there something I was doing wrong? Were there options I had not sought? Why did my baby keep having these ear issues? What is the next step? New doctors? New research?
Alexandra was about to celebrate her first birthday and that’s when I found The Heuser Hearing Institute in Louisville KY.