…To Be A Dad.

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Now hear this

June 8th, 2010 · 7 Comments · education, health, hearing, medical, oliver, parenting, speech

About a year ago I took Oliver to an ENT consultant about his hearing. The consultant said he may have “glue ear” and that he may grow out of it.

Then a few months ago I noticed his hearing was definitely a problem. At night with his right ear on the pillow, I could talk to him and he wouldn’t hear a word until he raised his head to use his right ear. We mentioned it at his nursery and they mentioned that they had also been wondering about his hearing.

I took him to my GP who said an audiogram would be unreliable at Oliver’s age and that ear grommets (which he said were the only way to intervene) would require a general anesthetic which carries with it a risk. I went home feeling somewhat stymied.

But on inquiring further I found other kids Oliver’s age WERE having audiograms, and resolved to try the same for Oliver. I got him referred and last Wednesday we went for the audiogram and consultation (with a different consultant).

Oliver did the same test an adult would do. You sit in a sound proof booth with headphones on and have to press a button when you hear a beep. Then they do a similar test but by vibrating the skull (my description, not theirs!) and finally they measure the amount of liquid in the ear, which is the cause of “glue ear”.

Firstly let me say that I was immensely proud of my little 4 year old as he sat there clicking the button. (I was reminded of Woody Allen in “Hannah and Her Sisters”!) We did a test run without headphones where I too could hear the beeps and he clearly responded appropriately. He patiently worked his way through the frequencies as the audiologist(?) build up the graph of his hearing response.

The results were clear. His hearing in his left ear is seriously affected. He must be hearing very little if anything from it. His right ear is borderline acceptable, but that in itself is way down from where it should be for a 4 year old. And the cause is definitely the liquid in his ear.

The consultant recommended we see him again in a couple of months and unless there is a big improvement he should have the grommets very soon afterwards. He said that there is no doubt that this amount of hearing loss will affect his ability to learn in school, so we will get it done before he starts in September.

It is an enormous relief that we have this clear diagnosis confirming what we had long suspected. I’m so glad I ignored my GP and persevered in getting an answer to his apparent difficulties. As a parent it pays not to be timid, which when it comes to our kids I think most of us find much easier then perhaps we would for ourselves.

I’ll obviously be a bit nervous if, as we expect, he has the operation, but it is brief and and the consultant also assuaged my fears on that score, as he will only be unconscious for a few minutes. Plus the fact Hayley has no bad response to general anesthetic bodes well.

When I had my ears syringed a year or two ago I was amazed by what I suddenly heard. I can hardly imagine what this much more radical transformation will be like for my son.


7 Comments so far ↓

  • Simon

    Stuff like this scares the hell out of me when I read it. Not so much "oh my god I hope nothing like that happens to my son" as "oh my god I hope I can cope when stuff like this happens to my son". Reading level-headed posts like this, that show that it's not the end of the world when these things come along, make me realise that maybe I'll cope when the first curve-ball comes along for Tom. 🙂

    • Steve

      Simon, I am sure you are right. Parenthood, like the pregnancy before it, is a journey into the unknown and so requires a fair amount of bravery, more so for us parents in fact than for our kids most of the time!
      My recent post Now hear this

  • lenka townley

    wish you good luck for Oliver, I am sure it will all turn out at the end, either way, with today health system. But it is good you spotted that, keep my fingers cross hoj

    • Steve

      Thanks Lenka. I feel sure it is the right course for him. The feedback I've had from others whose children have had the operation has all been good so far.

  • Jessi

    If grommets are the same as ear tubes in the States, then both of my girls have had them and it's not so much of a big deal. I know that generals always carry a risk, but Maren was only out for about ten minutes and only in surgery for about 4. Brynna had bigger issues and took longer, but she was older, too. She was four and Maren was 13 months. Brynna had 90% loss in one ear, so it was much the same. It's amazing how big the difference has been. Let us know when the procedure is going to be so we can all think about/pray for him.
    My recent post A Day at the Museum

    • Steve

      Thanks Jessi.

      We don't see the consultant again for about 6 weeks, and I'm guessing the operation will be a week later. I'm kind of impatient for him to have it done now but we go on holiday in a couple of weeks where he will spend a lot of time in the sea and swimming pools, which I am told would not be a good idea after the op.

      It's certainly very reassuring to hear your girls coped well with it.. Thanks for letting me know that.

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