According to Noah, "Today I get my ears fixed!" It's been a longer road than I would have liked to get us to this point, but today Noah is having tubes put in.
Last winter his ability to hear seemed to decrease: when watching t.v., when we were trying to get his attention, just about any time really. A visit to his doctor confirmed that he had some decreased hearing, but, according to a simple test, nothing significant. It was recommend that we return in six weeks to retest. Another test, and another six weeks after that one showed the same thing. But I trusted (too much, I realize looking back on it) his pediatrician that the hearing issue was minor and would probably resolve once the cold season was over.
Fast forward to October when Noah got his first cold and once again couldn't hear well at all. His pediatrician put me off again, but after a second visit we finally got a referral to audiology and ENT.
Just a few weeks ago we visited the Audiology department at UC Davis for a hearing screening. They were so great. Noah was totally comfortable, and did a great job as the assessment took place.
But she quickly followed up with, "How's he doing in school?" I responded with, "Great. At the top of his class."
She continued, "Wow, because it is extremely rare that we see a kid with this level of hearing loss who isn't speech or learning delayed. He has developed some really impressive compensation skills."
She proceeded to go through all of the results, and it sure was surprising. Summarized, his right ear is a little worse than the left, but they are both not hearing well at all, even in the 'normal' range. A test given indicated that it's all related to fluid (his diagnosis is conductive hearing loss) and not something that would require a hearing aid. So there's good news!
The next week we met with Dr. Funamura at ENT. She reiterated and agreed with everything the audiologist had said and also remarked how uncommon it is for a kid Noah's age to have made it this far, doing so well, without hearing much. This boy is remarkable for so many reasons.
Nate and I had already decided before the appointment that tubes were the way to go, so the doctor got a quick yes when she recommended the procedure. Noah and I went through the pre-op paperwork, met with the surgery scheduler, and headed back home.
This two week wait for surgery has seemed to take forever. Once I knew how horrible Noah's hearing is I wanted it resolved immediately. He's missing out on so many beautiful, amazing sounds in the world around him!
I've had a mixed bag of feelings: as a mom advocating for my kids is paramount, especially at this stage
while they're so young. I should have relied less on the
pediatrician's judgement last winter and pushed him harder for a referral than I did. I wish I wouldn't have trusted a doctor's opinion and recommendation quite so much.
But mostly I'm immensely grateful that this small, simple procedure should significantly improve Noah's hearing. In fact, both the audiologist and ENT said it's likely that Noah will be hypersensitive to sound for a while, until he adjusts to really hearing all of the sounds, loud or soft, around him.
And my mind can't help but think about a little boy somewhere in Zambia, or anywhere else in the world, who has fluid behind his ear drum too and has gotten used to hearing everything at a very low volume just like Noah. And that little boy, wherever he is, will never have a hearing test, never meet with an ENT doctor, and never have access to surgery that will change the way he takes in the sounds of the world around him.
We are so blessed. And that's what I'm trying to stay focused on when those feelings of frustration and nervousness for our kid's first surgery creep in. Noah is brave, we've prayed and know it's the right thing, and now we just wait and have hope for the best results possible!