Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tympanoplasty: Another Fancy Word

The word "tympanoplasty" makes me think of drums and plastic surgery, and rightly so since it is a surgical procedure to reconstruct the ear drum (or the "tympanic membrane", in medical speak). It is done to repair a perforation (a tear, rupture, hole, etc) in the ear drum, and Ella is having this surgery because one of her tubes left a hole behind that never closed on its own. From what I understand, this is not terribly uncommon, but it is definitely not what usually happens when tubes come out.

Ella had her tubes put in at 21 months. They came out of the ear drums around the time she turned three, and were actually out of her ears and saved in a Ziploc bag in her keep box by the time she was four. It was while they were resting in the ear canals that the pediatrician started watching her perforation to see if it would close. He also sent us to the ENT so he could watch it. When the ENT saw no change at all, he decided we should fix it as she approached her fifth birthday. As God would have it, after almost two years without an ear infection, she got strep throat and a really nasty upper respiratory infection. The ear without the perforation was infected, but the ear with the hole in it was not because the hole was still acting like a tube and ventilating the ear so it could drain. Surgery was postponed.

Armed with that knowledge, a teeny bottle of ear drops that cost $120, and a pack of ear plugs, we made it through the summer with only one mishap when the ear plug came out in the pool. The magical ear drops cleared up that infection and we saw the ENT last fall for a hearing test and made plans to schedule surgery in the spring. She has some very minor hearing loss of lower frequency sounds in the "bad" ear (i.e. she can't hear me when I speak quietly in a low voice, but she can hear me from three rooms away when I'm just having a semi-private conversation with Dave in the kitchen). We followed up with the ENT in January, and since we survived this cold and flu season without a new ear infection, surgery to repair the hole is a go.

It is an outpatient procedure that takes a couple of hours. Basically, they will make an incision behind her ear to get a piece of tissue that they will then use to patch the ear drum. The ENT says the hole makes up about 30% of her ear drum, and he had actually done a surgery to repair a hole almost identical to hers on the day we saw him. He did a fantastic job of explaining the procedure so that Ella could understand. Once the patch is in place, they will pack the ear with dissolvable material to support it while it heals. After five days, we'll use ear drops (that probably cost a fortune) to facilitate healing, and we'll follow up with the ENT in three weeks. She can't play soccer or participate in PE or recess until the three week follow up, but I purposely scheduled it during the school year/soccer season so that it will be healed in time for swimming so she can go without the blasted ear plug this summer.

Several months from now, they'll do another hearing test to see if her hearing has improved in that ear, and they expect it to be normal since what loss she has is caused by the holey ear drum. How they figure all that stuff out from a hearing test is amazing to me.

We've talked about the surgery quite a bit over the last couple of weeks and her concerns are exactly what the Children's Hospital website told me they would be, plus she's mad that she'll have to fast before surgery. I'm planning to let her fuss and nag about needing food and drink as a method to distract her from being scared. We should cater to their strengths, right?

On a very positive note, since she is 5, she was not subjected to the Hearing Test of Terror that poor Luke had to survive two years ago. Thanks goodness; we wouldn't have slept for weeks if that had happened to her.

P.S. If you are a nerd like me and want to see pictures and diagrams, this is a good link that explains the procedure. Tympanoplasty

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Around the House

Here are more snippets of conversations that I've collected from our day-to-day activities. I've excluded the funniest one I had in my notes because a lot of people aren't as comfortable with the use of actual body part names as we Ropers are, but rest assured that this mixed set of children know who has what parts - as recently reaffirmed in a very public conversation at the supper table at Main St. Tavern. Enjoy!

One night as Georgia (the dog) was stretched out on one end of the couch and Luke was loving on her, I told him, "If you smell Georgia's toes, they smell like corn chips."
Both kids leaned over to take a big sniff.
Luke: Can I eat them?
Ella: Yummy!
They really do smell like corn chips. It's a Lab thing.

During one of our recent adventures to the University Lake, Luke was sitting with Dave, throwing rocks in the water when he picked up a walnut hull and asked, "Is this poop?"
Dave: In the future, that's not a question you ask after you pick the thing up.

I picked out super hero Crocs for Luke for Valentine's day. Since then, he sporadically and very sincerely tells me, "Mama, your ways are awesome."

Ella has started bringing library books home from school to read to us. The first night she did, I realized that 5 year old Ella reads with the same tone and enthusiasm as 14 month old Ella. I was transported back to her "reading" of Go Dog Go, and I almost cried.

There's been a lot of talk recently about what people have given up for Lent. Aunt Becca had to explain it to Luke and this text message followed: "Luke's spin on Lent: I'm going to eat macaroni for 40 days." It would be a sacrifice, but he would do it.

Ella is having surgery later in the week to repair a hole in her eardrum that was left when her tube came out, so we've been talking about what to expect when we go to the hospital. She was proclaiming that surgery was the "worst thing ever!"
Me: Surgery probably isn't the worst thing ever.
Ella: (without missing a breath) The worst thing ever is pooping in the pool and then having to shut it down.
It is really annoying when the pool gets shut down for poop.

Finally, here's the latest character in our house. Meet Wonder Boy.

The marker on his belly gives him power.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Signs, Signs, Everywhere, There's Signs

"Blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind..."


I never thought I would think so much about signs.

How big are they?
How are they constructed?
How do you put them up?
Did they stay up after the storm last night?
What colors should be on them?
Is the print big enough to read?
How much do they cost?

"And the sign says you got to have a membership card to get inside."

Where can you put them?
Will someone take them down?
Who took them down?
Is it in the right of way?
Can you see it from this angle?
What do we do with them at the end?
Are they recyclable? (Yes, they are number 5 plastics.)
Are they spaced adequately so as not to be annoying while also reminding the viewer of the candidate?
Can we reuse them?

"I got me a pen and paper and I made up my own little sign. I said 'Thank you, Lord, for thinking about me. I'm alive and doing fine.'"

And in addition to the thinking, there is the constant repeat of the song in my head. I've tried to drown it out. It keeps coming back.