Hannah’s Ear Tube Surgery

It’s been a little over two weeks since Hannah’s ear tube surgery and I feel pretty bad for not writing about it yet.

We knew from the sedated echo that Hannah would handle the “nothing after midnight” fast pretty well. I gave her a late bottle the night before and she had no problem skipping her morning one. We were told to check in by 7:10 but arrived about fifteen minutes early and re-lived the morning of her heart surgery. We went up to the same suite to check in, answered the same questions, signed the same forms, and were escorted to the same pre-op area.

At this point I was trying not to let my nerves get to me but it’s so damn hard when you’re waiting for nearly two hours and are asked the same questions by a dozen different people. Of course everyone there is extra nice but the rotation of nurses, residents, and doctors was tiresome and created a long build-up to the main event. Finally we talked to the anesthesiologist, who said she saw Hannah’s latest cardiology report and didn’t expect there to be any heart related issues while Hannah was out. We were given a mask for Hannah to play with so she’d be more comfortable with it. I understand they meant well but thirty minutes of make believe with a gas mask doesn’t do much for an 18 month old.

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Once everyone was ready for us the next step happened in a blink of an eye. I put on a paper robe and gloves, carried her into the operating, and plopped her on the bed. We were swarmed by people, hands all over Hannah, then the gas mask held to her head. I wish someone would have warned me that I would be watching someone suffocate my child. There was a nurse standing behind me explaining that the eye rolling was “normal,” the desperately trying to pull away was “normal,” and the stranger holding the mask tighter was “normal.” I was escorted from the OR before Hannah’s eyes close but was assured she was asleep. That moment was only slightly less terrifying then when Hannah woke up after her OHS and was still intubated.

The nurse walked Pete and I to the waiting room, where we snacked on free graham crackers and texted the grandparents. Just as I was making a cup of coffee the ENT came out and brought us to one of the little rooms across the hall to update us on the surgery. It was quite a production for good news. Pete and I are fairly certain we were given updates on Hannah during her OHS in the middle of the full waiting room. Anyway, they were able to get the tubes in her teensy ears and suck out the fluid. Audiology was already conducting the hearing test and the anesthesia was weaned back just enough to keep Hannah in a deep sleep.

An hour or so later the audiologist came out, brought us to the same meeting room, and said Hannah’s test was very good but still missing the lowest sound on one side. The results were much better than her last behavioral hearing test, very slightly worse than her last BAER test, but still nothing to be concerned about.

We were finally reunited with a very sad little girl who had to be bounced or patted to stay calm. Once she started to wake up we offered her a bottle of watered down apple juice and were astonished that she chugged a few ounces. Thank goodness because the sleeping gas gave her the foulest breath and the juice helped wash it away. I was surprised how quickly we were discharged but it was clearly a sign that Hannah was recovering well. Pete and I celebrated with lunch at Qdoba while Hannah continued napping. Her recovery at home was similar to that of the sedated echo – small meals, a long nap, and a very late bedtime.

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I haven’t noticed much of a difference in her hearing. She still hates the rare occasions that Gamy barks and cried when I used the hand vacuum. We always knew she could hear soft or distance noises but the issue was more about how muffled the sounds were. Hopefully the world sounds clear to her now…except for my awful singing voice.

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Big News about Hannah’s Heart

I used to write all the time – on Post It notes at work, on Dunkin Donuts receipts in my car, I’d send myself emails if I didn’t have a pen and paper. There were so many thoughts I wanted to remember ever and feelings that I wanted to release. Lately I haven’t even been able to write a grocery list and it all started after Hannah’s last cardiology appointment. The month we waited for her sedated echo somehow flew by in the most painfully slow way. The days were short and the weeks were long but it was finally 6 am on a Thursday morning and time to leave for the hospital.

The appointment went surprisingly well, all because Hannah is the greatest kid ever. Even though she hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours she was still happy and silly while ninja rolling across the adult-size bed. After we sorted out which sedation medication to use (the doctor let us choose) and Hannah fell asleep (in 3 minutes instead of the typical 20-30 minutes) the echo took place and lasted over an hour. Our cardiologist was on vacation but another one came in to check the images and give us zero information on what she saw. The anesthesiologist and nurse were expecting Hannah to be awake by then but it was at least another 15-20 minutes before she started to open her eyes. Once the nurse finally believed us that Hannah wasn’t going to drink apple juice we were allowed to give her a small bottle before being discharged.

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Our cardiologist called early Tuesday morning to give us her report: accelerated blood flow, moderate blockage of the valve, but no damage to the valve. She felt surgery was not urgent and could be done at our “convenience” but she wanted to prevent Hannah’s case to the cardiothoracic team at the end of the week to see if anyone disagreed. Friday afternoon rolled around and we were given the best news ever…

Hannah doesn’t need surgery yet or possibly ever.

She’ll be monitored every 6 months to see if the scar tissue continues to grow or if the accelerated blood flow damages the valve. Hannah has no idea why she was hugged so tightly that day but the rest of us immediately felt relief from the anxiety.

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