Friday, January 9, 2009

Ear Tubes Anew

Song of the Day: There's More Pretty Girls Than One (I have asked the music gods why I am haunted with this one)(no one answered), But there's more pretty girls than one....

My youngest has a long, long history of trouble with her ears. She has Down Syndrome, so she had strike one from the start...people with DS often have smaller eustachian tubes and their ears don't drain properly. Strike two: her two older sisters also had many ear infections, as did their dad (as I recall). It's a family affair. Poor kid never had a chance.

She has had more courses of antibiotics than I like to think about. She's had a series of ear tubes placed the number of which I have completely lost track of. At first it was the small tubes that were meant to be short term. Later on they put the long term, grommet looking variety in (imagine a molly-bolt for the eardrum). Several times.

Finally she seemed to have outgrown ear infections. But because of the repeated assaults on her eardrums, she had a permanent gaping hole in her left drum. She had moderate hearing loss in that ear (a legacy of both infections and hole), and started developing 'opportunistic' infections that were arriving via the hole. Decision made to give her a new eardrum, the things that they do these days! Long story short, they harvested a piece of fascia (covering the membrane between skin and muscle) from underneath her scalp, and bring it down to sew into place. This was around age 17 or so. My concerns about whether or not the fascia could act like a real eardrum were allayed by the doctor saying, well enough we think. Don't you just love it with they 'think' something? Well something had to be done, the fascia was the best thing anyone to come up with to use for fake eardrum, so, we went with it.

Her hearing has, ever so slowly, improved over the last few years (she's 25 now), but she started having the odd infection here and there. A regular ear drum is soft and it sort of drapes (hard to explain but it does), but her fake ear drum is more rigid and less permeable. Fluid builds up behind it, and because that ear is just a mess anyway, the fluid has nowhere to go. Her ear always hurts, no matter what we do, because of the pressure of too much fluid we figure. There for a while, it looked like the pain might be from an outer ear (in the canal) infection, but it was not to be. It looks like she guessed it. An ear tube placed, the tiny kind. When it falls out, the hole it leaves will be permanent, since the fascia won't heal unless it is stitched back up and we tell it to.

The hope is that the doc (who is very good at what he does) (and will answer to Dr. McCoy when Ramona calls him that, as well as give her the vulcan salute) will be able to make just the tiniest wee little hole possible for the tube, and that after it falls out, there will be just the tiniest wee permanent hole in her ear drum, so that the stuff that collects in there will have somewhere to go and quit causing her all that pain. Her ear hurts ALL the time, imagine how irrascible and grumpy you would be if it was you.

I remember when I agreed to the fascia graft. I worried at the time that the infections would start up all over again, but I had to admit she couldn't have that big old hole there, either. I always thought, well that's a bridge I'll cross when I have to. Hi, bridge. One part of me hates to make a hole in that lovely graft that has done such a good job. The other part knew would probably happen. So, it will be back to custom ear plugs when she wants to swim or take a bath. Wonder if she will want this one to look like a little orca like the old ones did? And hey, at least the other ear is a healthy ear!

It is up to me at this point, I told the doc I would go home and think about it. The appointment was yesterday and I've thought about it. Yup, think we'll have to do this. Ramona is up for it if it will make it so her ear doesn't hurt anymore. Let's see, will this be hospitalization number 20 or 21? I've lost track.

The doc saw me as a patient yesterday, as well. But, more on that later.

(who has had it up to here with doctors lately) (but bless them for being there)


2Grandmas2 said...

So very sorry for Mona. Interesting, my dear, "ear tubes" seems to have done you better. Health over controvery; who would've thought? ;)

2Grandmas2 said...

LOL. Who knew? It's all an experiment and who ever knows?