a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

My first (and hopefully last) experience as a Hospital “Mum”

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.

It took a few hours to get through the recovery period but by later afternoon he began feeling better

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.

Before the surgery began, they used cream to numb the areas where they’d insert the IV

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.

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8 years ago 5 Comments Short URL

Medicines abroad – or lack thereof

Last week while visiting the Grandparents in Belgium, my 4yr old came down with an earache. It was Sunday, late – and a holiday weekend to boot. This meant there would be absolutely nothing open. No place to get pain meds for a child. It’s not like they are anti-meds, they whole a whole cupboard dedicated to meds – it’s like a small pharmacy, but what they didn’t have was pain reliever or fever reducer for children. (It is times like these I truly miss the 24hr stores in the US – and in the UK we live within a block of the only 24 hr pharmacy) I think there are very few things that make you feel so helpless as a parent as when your child is screaming in pain and crying and all you can do is hold them.

When I was a child – I remember my parents putting warmed almond oil into my ear to have the heat help soothe it – but we didn’t even have that handy. So I did what every geeky Mom does and reached out to other parents via Twitter.

Within a few minutes I had several credible suggestions including: warm water bottle or washcloth against the ear, warmed olive oil. Unfortunately my guy didn’t want warm he wanted cool – so instead of fighting him to try and soothe him, we asked him what would make his ear feel better.  His first suggestions was “cold” so we put an ice-cube in a plastic bag, wrapped in towels and let him apply that for a while.

Do you know that thing from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the Dad puts Windex (window cleaner) on every ailment as a cure-all? Well my 4yr old feels the same about cold wet towels. Any type of scrape, scratch, itch, bump, freckle must have a wet towel applied to cure it. So it was only with a cold damp towel over the side of his head, wrapped up in my arms, us sitting upright did he eventually fall asleep. I remember sitting up, holding him, trying to sleep thinking – how wonderful it would be if they made baby swings in his size. (or wait, better yet – come to think of it, mine!)

The morning came quickly – although he had fitfully fallen asleep around 2, he still woke up bright eyed at 6am feeling perky and wanting to play. Not so much me. How do kids do that?

In hindsight – we’ve become rather lax with all the kiddy accoutrements. Once we shed that baby bag – we’ve been trying to pack light ever since. (Hence we only brought 2 suitcases, 3 backpacks, 1 messenger bag and 1 carry-all on a 1 wk trip to Belgium :0) ) We brought children’s toothpaste, decongestant for the trip and sleeping buddies as well as clothes and toys – but didn’t bring the children’s fever/pain medicine. It will definitely be the first thing we pack from now on.

It’s not like we don’t have a stockpile. Not only have we learned about Children’s Calpol and other UK children’s meds – but each time I travel back and forth to the US I stock up on that melt-in-your mouth cherry/grape/bubblegum flavored Children’s Tylenol (or generic equivalent). My guys never liked the syrup – so having one that melts in their mouth is quite handy. Finding new meds/the right meds in a new country can be kind of daunting but luckily I’ve had a great network of UK Mums who’ve helped guide me through Motherhood in the UK.


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8 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

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