Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tubes Debate


It was spaghetti night at our house. Lily always ends up with noodles stuck to her chest. It's a good thing we still strip 'em down at dinner time.

The last two days have been "doctor days" - we saw the ENT yesterday about ear tubes and the pediatrician today for the 15-month well child check up. First, the stats: Lily is 20 1/2 pounds, 31 inches. Molly is 21 lbs, 12 ounces, 31 inches. So their height has evened out! Molly just continues to be the chunky monkey (her head is also the usual 5/8 inch larger too). Unfortunately I don't know their percentiles because the doctor and I were so busy talking ear tubes. The doctor did find the personality and skill differences between the twins quite amusing (she kept saying "wow, they are so different"). She also noted Lily's shyness and Molly's outgoing behavior. Lily cried even if the doctor or nurse looked at her long enough, whereas Molly was smiling and laughing and engaging them.

The ear tube consult with the ENT was an eye opener. I thought that sophisticated testing was available to check whether the girls are good candidates for tubes. Uh, no. The doctor purely went off of number of earaches in the past year (and at about 10 apiece, is very high). He said that based on number alone they are good candidates. We had a long discussion about risks, and his statement that for 1 in 100 kids, the eardrum slit doesn't heal properly and that requires another, more involved surgery did scare me a little. With two kids, my risk level is higher. He also said that sometimes this second surgery can fail (about 10% of the time) and I basically went bleary eyed at that point - that sounds like too much messing around with an eardrum and guaranteed hearing loss.

Our pediatrician today said it's "purely parent choice". She is definitely conservative, like myself, on this topic. She said there's only about an 8-month timeline for the tube's effectiveness so if we want to take advantage of it we should jump on it now while it's winter. She also stated that the older kids get, the fewer the ear infections they get, but I'm not so sure that's true with the way my kids' ears work (in fact the ENT was "surprised" that Claire still gets ear infections - I told him we have a proud family history of earaches well into the older childhood years).

So basically I'm debating the risks of the surgery versus the risks of being on antibiotics about once a month - which risk is the lesser of two evils? This is how I view my choices. As of today, I'm not entirely sure which way I lean after what I've heard the last two days. Maybe the next round of earaches will push me toward tubes though.

Claire went back to preschool today. She was very happy about that! My job got busy in the afternoon so unfortunately Claire was pretty bored during that time. At moments she did a decent job of entertaining herself, like by playing with her new dollhouse, but she can't sustain it for long. And again, she's sound asleep at a reasonable time tonight! All it takes is getting her up by 8am and making sure she gets some activity during the day. Problem solved!

1 comment:

Abby Henderson said...

Hey, there. I check in with your blog every now and again and noticed tonight you're debating tubes. May I offer some advice from a mom of two boys who both have tubes? Do it. It will be the easiest and best decision of your life thus far.

Gus had his right at age 2 and Hank had his at a year. The procedure itself was over in less than 15 minutes for Hank and about 20 for Gus because he had his adenoids removed at the same time.

I was anxious about the anesthesia for both, but neither one suffered any repercussions at all. Gus, since he was older, laid on the couch for an hour or so when he got home and from that point on you would have never known he had "surgery" that day. What we did notice immediately was a huge improvement in his hearing. I don't know if your ENT did a hearing test on the twins but they did one on Gus and his hearing was greatly compromised from the constant fluid behind his ear drum. His non-stop "Huh? Huh?" went away in less than 24 hours.. amazing. And he hasn't had a single ear infection since.

Hank was even better. He cried for the first 30 minutes after he woke up but that was just a side effect of the anesthesia. Never another symptom after that. And no ear issues since. One time he had a little drainage, so they suggested I do a 5 day round of the drops. Problem solved.

I was so sick of the non-stop Dr appointment and the constant drugs.. it was just out of control there for awhile. The tubes have been the best decision we've ever made.

Anyway, I know there are the "what if's" in every decision you make on your child's behalf, but this is one decision I can say we have never regretted!!

Just my two cents worth!

Hope all is well...

Abby