Yesterday I spent the day with my son in hospital while he had surgery. While everything turned out ok – the experience itself was not one I’d like to repeat. Sitting there waiting for the surgery, then waiting for my son to be returned to me safe and sound and then sitting through the hours of recovery time I had plenty of time to reflect and count our blessings.
As a parent I think there isn’t anything harder than watching your child suffer. Since he was a few months old, our eldest DS (age 6) has had chronic ear infections. Many times our first awareness would be as we’d hold him as he’d scream all night (and not just as a baby). Or having already given him pain meds, holding him as his ear drums threatened to burst and soothing him as they actually did, relieving his pain in one super painful burst. Antibiotics never seemed to help, (and research has shown they only cure ear infections one day faster on average than no antibiotics) and we’ve always tried to treat the pain as best we could. We tried alternative treatments and had him allergy tested to see if that was a contributing factor.
A few years ago we took him to an ENT who recommended tubes/grommets but we decided to wait a few weeks to figure out what to do. As we deliberated the weeks turned into 2 years of no ear infections so we didn’t really think about it again until with moved to London. Once in London the ear infections started up again with a vengeance (I’m thinking because of the weekly swimming classes at school) and we noticed our boy needing to turn the tv up louder and not hearing us so well when not facing us. So again we returned to the ENT and audiologist and found that from the ear infections there was scarring on the ear drum causing him some hearing loss as well as glue ear, thick liquid behind the ear drum that wasn’t draining properly and becoming re-infected.
We had a follow-up appointment with the ENT for 2 months following the first appointment, and during that time our boy had multiple ear infections and an even more significant loss in hearing. It was such a noticeable change, he’d ask us a question to our face while standing 2 feet away, and wouldn’t hear the answer. We’d repeat it 3 or 4 times until frustration set in and we’d shout – resulting in our boys defeated expression and shoulder hunch as he’d slink away – making us feel like rotten parents and human beings. So something had to be done, for his sake and for socialization and learning. He’s starting a new school this fall and this certainly wouldn’t help with trying to make new friends and navigate a new environment.
Before the surgery I reached out via Facebook and Twitter to see if any other parents of my acquaintance had been through the experience of their child getting tubes/grommets and adenoids removed. While people were nice enough to retweet my query on Twitter I didn’t really hear about anyone’s experience. With Facebook I was a little luckier. Hearing from 4 other parents that while the day itself would be rough, the post-hospital recovery would be quicker than the Dr’s said and also that there would be noticeable improvements in health and hearing. One friend alerted me to an issue I hadn’t really considered – watching my child be put under anesthesia – which she forewarned me would be difficult to watch. I appreciated the heads-up as I hadn’t really considered this.
While I don’t consider myself religious – I have and did and will continue to count my blessings – in the sense of gratitude.
1. I’m thankful for Social Media
Connecting with other parents who’ve been through similar things online via Facebook and Twitter went a long way to relieving some of my fears and making me feel not so alone.
2. I’m thankful I live in this time and place
We live in a country that makes medical treatment widely available, have some medicines to make the procedures less painful, and others to prevent and treat more serious complications.
3. I’m thankful that it was in the scheme of things, a small procedure
We were able to go in and out the same day – whereas I have friends who are just leaving the hospital with their children after 90+ days
4. I’m thankful that it worked
Although the recovery period was a bit traumatic (although he doesn’t remember it) shortly after he was already complaining everyone and everything was too loud and there were too many noises. Since returning home, he’s gone from watching the television 2ft away at volume level 23 to now sitting back on the couch and watching it at volumen level 6.
So we had one day in the hospital. One day of discomfort for my son, my anxiety on his behalf – and one day of being addressed by all and sundry (doctors, nurses, cleaners etc) as “Mum.” Ok so this was my one pet peeve about the day – it’s a small one but annoying nonetheless, it’s fine if you can’t learn all the parents names, I get it, but I’d rather not be called “Mum” by a bunch of other adults. But in the same respect of counting thanks – I’m thankful that I wasn’t there long enough that they did learn my name. Contrary I know.