Surgery Successful

Evie is now the proud recipient of two brand new ear tubes, at the expense of her adenoids.

Originally, the surgery was scheduled for 2:00. So the plan was for her to go to school in the morning, and for me to arrive at the hospital at about 2:30 or so before she woke up. However, on the morning of the surgery, they called and insisted we move the surgery up to 9:30 a.m.

So I missed the entire thing, but from what Sara said, I’m glad I wasn’t there. Evie woke up in a bad mood. This was expected, but quite a bit different than her reaction the last time. She was so angry with Sara, that she was actually damaging her already sore throat with her screaming. She was mouthy, and surly, and the only thing keeping her from swearing was that she didn’t know any swear words. She was also coughing like a chain smoker, further irritating her throat, and eventually needed a breathing treatment.

Ollie was such a good little brother, sitting quietly with her surgery doll in his lap and waiting patiently. He was also very concerned about the baby that came into recovery while they were there, wanting to check and be sure he was alright every few minutes. He was at the very height of 2 1/2 year old behavior, and impressed the nurses. For his efforts, he was rewarded with apple juice, a popsicle and 8 cookies. The funny thing was, several people asked if he and Evie were twins (I’m guessing probably based more on his size than his proper behavior).

By the time I saw her, she was pretty much back to normal. Her voice was a little scratchy, but that was about it. We snuggled under a blanket on the couch and read Christmas books until my voice was the one that was in danger. She was eating like normal, acting like normal, and didn’t complain one iota about pain.

Most importantly, her hearing was already *significantly* improved. I made sure to keep my voice pitched well below what she could hear only yesterday, and she had no problem hearing me. We even tried some whispering. She isn’t back to 100%, but it is night and day better. This is such a huge relief, you have no idea. Unfortunately, it means I’m going to have to get used to little pitchers having big ears again.

Certainly, seeing her hearing so much better with practically no recovery time really makes me feel like this was the right decision. Now we just wait and see if this helps her stay healthy.

The Breathing Treatment

The hits just keep on coming for poor Evie.

We were taking Oliver for a follow up appointment for his ear infection, but you would have sworn the appointment was for Evie. She was hacking and coughing every few seconds the entire time we were there, while Oliver joked and played around. “Do you mind if I look at her?” asked the doctor. “No, no, she’s fine, just a cold,” we said. After a few minutes, the doctor asked again. “Well, it’s probably not necessary,” we responded. More uncontrollable hacking and coughing from Evie. Finally, the doctor just plain insisted.

She had Evie checked in and did an exam. After listening to her lungs, she decided she wanted to get Evie a nebulizer.

I’m not going to lie, this freaked me out. Growing up, my sister had pretty severe asthma, and she still deals with it to this day. I have strong memories of seeing her in the hospital, looking so small and pale, resting in an oxygen tent, unable to get enough air into her lungs. She was practically connected to her nebulizer, doing a breathing treatment several times a day, every day.

Asthma, allergies, and eczema are all related, and they’re all in my family in spades. There isn’t a one of us that doesn’t have one or more of these afflictions. Obviously I gifted my son with the eczema gene, so in my mind it seemed entirely likely that I gifted my daughter with asthma.

I remember my sister once did a school science fair project on asthma. In order to show what it felt like to have an asthma attack, you were supposed to breath through one of those little coffee-stirring straws for 30 seconds. This is something that has really suck with me for my entire life. 30 seconds is such a short amount of time, and yet the feeling of suffocation was absolutely terrifying. Ten seconds in and I felt like clawing at my throat. I imagined how many times my sister must have felt that desperate panic, and how she couldn’t just remove the straw and draw in a breath when she couldn’t take it anymore.

Not something I wished for my daughter.

Evie was a little worried about the breathing treatment, but that was partially our fault. I was caught up in my own thing, so it never occurred to me to actually explain what was going on until Evie, almost in tears, leaned over and asked in a small, quiet voice, “Is that going to turn my lungs black?” She thought we were making her smoke!

The doctor doesn’t think she has asthma, but she couldn’t rule it out either. However, her theory was that Evie’s airways were reacting to the fact that she has had 6 colds in 12 weeks, and her lungs just haven’t had time to recover in between. Certainly something was going on, because within 30 seconds of doing the nebulizer, Evie’s cough magically disappeared. They gave us an inhaler to take home, and we’ve used it pretty regularly. Again, this brought a lot of flash-backs to my sister, and in fact, Rachael used her inhaler in front of Evie to inspire her.

It seems like Evie’s lungs have now recovered, and she’s gone 30 seconds in between colds, which is a record for her. Hopefully this was a transitory thing, and not something she’ll have to deal with her entire life.

That poor girl just can’t catch a break!

Huh? What?

Unfortunately, my daughter’s hearing is deteriorating rapidly.

If you’ve spoken to her in the last two weeks, you’ve probably noticed this. It would be really, really hard not to notice. If you are talking to her at a normal tone of voice, she usually can’t hear you well enough to even know you are speaking to her, much less does she actually understand what you are saying. This is absolutely not her fault, but it is very hard not to get frustrated with her. Then something happens to remind you that she is the victim in all of this, like when you say, “Evie! I told you three times to pick this up!” and she says, “Huh?” in such a way that you realize that she never heard you the three times you told her, and then you just feel bad all over again.

It’s not all bad, though, it has led to some funny misunderstandings.

Kid: “I went to a birthday party, and we jumped into a pit of foam.”
Evie, horrified: “A pit of bones??”

I got so used to speaking loudly around her, that I find myself talking loudly to everybody. Several times I found myself shouting to Sara when it was just the two of us alone in the kitchen.

I never really realized how isolating it is to not be able to hear, and how much you miss out on. Oftentimes when she doesn’t hear something, she just lets it go. I don’t know if it’s being a kid, being embarrassed about not hearing, something about her personality, or just the fact that you get tired of asking everybody to repeat everything all the time. I’m very thankful that she’s only in preschool, and thus is not really having instruction per say at school. I can clearly see how quickly one would fall behind academically.

Anyway, we could clearly see that she was experiencing some hearing loss, but we had her tested anyway. Her hearing showed normal to mild loss in one year, and mild to moderate loss in the other. It seems to have gotten a lot worse since then.

The doctors believe that it is temporary, and due to a large build up of fluid in her ears that doesn’t seem to drain, so they’ve recommended a third round of ear tubes (you can read about round 1 and round 2). The idea is that the fluid would be able to drain through the tubes, and her hearing would go back to normal. Long term, the hope is always that she will grow enough that her ears will begin to drain normally on their own, without requiring help. It hasn’t worked so far, but then again, third time was a charm with me and ear tubes when I was little.

So hopefully everything goes well and she will be able to re-join the conversation (side note, not being able to hear apparently doesn’t impede your ability to talk).

At least Ollie’s ears are okay, right? Wrong.

We always assumed that Ollie had no problems with his ears, because he had never had any ear infections. However, you only know your child has ear infections if he says he has ear infections, and if he happens to have the pain tolerance of a UFC fighter on PCP, then he probably just doesn’t mention it. Imagine our surprise, then, when he did finally complain about an ear ache, and the doctor found evidence of “chronic ear infections”.

Perhaps he inherited daddy’s ears after all, but just forgot to mention it.

The Neti Pot

I have very small sinuses. Because of this, any cold or illness always, always, always ends up being a sinus issue. Combined with my terrible allergies, I probably spend 25% of my life with some combination of a sinus headache, a stuffed nose, and irritated, watery eyes.

“You should get a neti pot!”, said everybody everywhere all the time. “It’s great! When your sinuses feel bad, you just shoot boiling hot salt water directly into your brain cavity, and then you’ll feel better, because when you’re done you’ll be thinking ‘I might have a sinus headache, but at least I don’t have boiling hot salt water in my brain cavity anymore!'”

Everybody swears by these things, and they sound like a classic case of the cure is worse than the disease to me. Sara has been trying to get me to do this since forever, in fact, just this weekend I had multiple people urging me to try it out next time my allergies were acting up. Just the thought of warm water wooshing around my sinuses makes me want to kill myself. “I would rather die then try a neti pot,” I swore.

The next day I bought a neti pot.

It was only about $12, so Sara talked me into it. IF I was ever going to try one of these torture devices (and that’s a big IF), it would only happen if I happened to have one on hand at the exact minute that I needed it. Otherwise, my sinus-induced moment of weakness would pass, and there’d be no second chance. It turns out, that sinus-induced moment of weakness came sooner than I expected.

The VERY NEXT DAY I came down with some sort of sinus-superflu that got worse and worse throughout the day until I couldn’t take it anymore. I was actually looking forward to using the neti pot when I got home. (that’s how bad it was!)

In short, in the span of two days I went from, “I’d rather die than use a neti pot!” to “lets put a picture of me using the neti pot on the Internet!”

Me: “I can’t believe I’m putting this picture on the Internet.”
Sara: “I know, look at how little hair you have.”

Okay, so the neti pot wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. It certainly cleaned out a ton of gunk from up there (something you really should be prepared for, like with a kleenex or something, the way I wasn’t). However, it was very salty, went in my mouth and down my shirt, and only lasted for about 5 minutes before my sinuses filled back up again. Was it worth it? I really don’t know. I guess some days I go the entire day without my sinuses clearing a single time, so I guess having them clear for 5 minutes would be a plus. On the other hand, it seemed like a lot of effort and general unpleasantness for only 5 minutes in the clear.

So it might be worth it, however, I’m not sure it would be worth it just to clear out the allergens if my sinuses weren’t completely blocked. I guess it was okay enough that I’ll give it another shot if the situation called for it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my sinuses are about to explode.

Plague House

DO NOT ENTER!

I know it is that time of year, but at the moment we seem to be over our limit as far as infection goes.

We have all been snotty and coughing for quite awhile. Sort of run of the mill stuff, just colds. Starting yesterday, it really took a turn for the worst. Poor Ollie just got hit like a ton of bricks. Double ear infections and conjunctivitis (a.k.a. “pink eye”) in both eyes, on top of the cold he already had. It’s like his whole head just dissolved into a goo. He leaves face prints on everything he touches. It’s less like a sickness and more like being cursed by a gypsy.

I really thought there was nothing sadder than seeing a a little kid with a bad cold, but then I saw Ollie with conjunctivitis. Hoo boy! This morning his eyes had literally swelled shut. At dinner last night, Evie couldn’t stop sobbing just looking at him. “He doesn’t look like Ollie!” she cried. He really did look that bad. We had to keep her from touching his eyes, because she was determined to help him see by manually opening his eyes with her fingers.

If that wasn’t enough, when I went to pick up Evie from school yesterday, it turns out she has an ear infection as well! Keep in mind that I have been feeling terrible on top of all of this. So when I woke up this morning and my left eye was too gummed over to open, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” At least my conjunctivitis is so far contained to my left eye. I can function on some human level, so I need only look over at Oliver to realize that I really have no right to complain.

Only Sara seems to be untouched. I can only assume she made some kind of deal with the devil for her good fortune. For the rest of us, we’re just trying to keep Evie from catching pink eye.

Tubes Round 2

On Tuesday, Evie went in for another round of ear tubes. For Sara and I, this wasn’t nearly the proposition it was last time. Aside from the fact that we have been through it once, she was so young the first time that it was very traumatic to think of her going off with these doctors to be put put under the knife (can you believe she was barely older than Oliver is now?). She just seemed so vulnerable. She doesn’t seem that way anymore! This time she took the hospital by storm.

Of course, nothing can go smoothly. In this case, they forgot to put us on the surgery schedule. So we had to show up at 11:30 and wait for an opening, which didn’t come until quarter till 4. For an adult this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but for a kid it’s a little hard to not have anything to eat since 6 p.m. the night before, and nothing to drink since 9:30.

Evie was such a trooper though. There was no complaining, no whining, no bad behavior. She was just so excited and so patient. Evie got a “She looks like Reese Witherspoon” from the doctor this time, not the Shiloh Pitt that she usually gets…I guess she’s maturing? She was cracking everybody up at the hospital: telling jokes, singing, shaking her booty in her surgery outfit singing, “Look at me! Look at me!”, and finally, skipping down the hall to the operating room. I’m guessing that is not the typical response to being stuck in a hospital all day with no food, leading up to knives in your ears. Nobody could believe that she was so excited, so they kept saying things like, “It’s not going to hurt at all…” Why would you say that?? She’s obviously not thinking it’s going to, but now you’re planting the idea in her head. A girl like her is going to pick up on the fact that everybody keeps telling her it’s not going to hurt and start to wonder why they keep reassuring her.

I will give them this, the child-life specialist gave her a really nice blonde haired, blue eyed “buddy” doll, dressed in a gown/hairnet/face mask that was ‘just like her’. It’s a really nice, high quality doll (way better than all the junk they piled on us later, like the plush Donald Duck). Evie took to it right away, and took it to school the next day to show it off. She really cares for this doll, putting her to bed, reassuring her she’s not going to have any more surgery, etc. which is a lot more than I’ve ever seen her care for any of her other “friends”. It’s like they went through a shared experience together or something. I’m sure by next week it will just be one of the endless parade of stuffed animals.

I had a doctor’s appointment at 4, which seemed like it would be no problem when we expected the surgery to be in the morning, and even after, when we were told to come in at 11:30. As it was, I left immediately after she went down, and didn’t get back until she was already awake in recovery. I had to take Oliver with me, because we weren’t sure he was going to be allowed in the recovery room, and if Sara had him we wouldn’t have had any choice (ultimately, he was allowed in).

By the time I got back there, Evie already had them eating out of the palm of her hand. The nurse said when she woke up she just said, “Hello!” I imagine this was a bit unusual based on some other examples I saw in other recovery rooms of people waking up from anesthesia. Of course, at some point she ended up singing the “State Song” for a packed room of nurses (and by the way, go click that video and watch her singing it when she was only 2 1/2…ADORABLE!). Her performance garnered her $5 (which was $3 more than she got singing it at karaoke the other night). The nurses wanted to know what her youtube page was, so there’s the link.

One of the best parts of surgery is that you get a lot of popsicles. Evie was munching away on them in the recovery room, and poor Oliver couldn’t take it anymore! He just started crying until he got a popsicle too. We had brought some food for Evie to eat when she was done. Her special “after-surgery lunch” that she picked out was pretzels and a peanut butter and jelly bagel. However, when she tried to eat it, she got a little sick from the anesthesia. So she had to wait until she got home to eat anything.

So that was it, she slept a lot at home and was back to her old self in the morning, no worse for the wear. Hopefully we’ll get rid of those ear infections this time!

Misc.

I just have a lot of random miscellany to update on, so here you go, in no particular order:

Some Norwegians came to visit. Meg, I really appreciate the effort you put into keeping in touch with me. I can’t count the number of friends that I’ve regrettably lost contact with since college. And giving me bacon / cheese popcorn doesn’t hurt either (although it wasn’t all that bacony, mostly just tasted like cheese popcorn).

Evie finally learned how to jump on Friday. She’s a little behind schedule on that one, so I was working on it with her. I’d like to think that my excellent advice to “put your feet together, bend your knees, and push with your toes” are what put her over the top. She’s going through a bit of a trying phase at the moment, so, after our initial giggling and hugging fit, the fact that we wanted her to jump again pretty much guaranteed she wouldn’t. She did jump some more on Sunday though.

Everyone was sick, back to back. It took each of us about 4 days to shake it, so we had a rough patch for about 12 days.

American History X, good movie!  Really good! Has anyone seen it? Oh yeah, Sara and I were the last people on earth who hadn’t.

We finally checked out the Harry Potter exhibit at the MSI. It was pretty cool, and well done, but not exactly what I expected. It’s pretty much a tour through a bunch of movie props. Since it was in the museum of SCIENCE and INDUSTRY, I kind of thought it would be like explaining about the special effects, or like “real life invisibility” exhibits or something. Not just, “Here’s the clothes Ron wore in this scene…” Also, our scheduled time was before the museum opened, which was pretty confusing to begin with, but they had a lot of trouble getting people lined up for the right times and stuff. You’d think for the money they’re pulling down, they could have invested in a couple of signs or something. Still, it was fun. I can’t say if it was worth the price of admission or not, since it was free for us.

Football is officially underway, and what better way to start the season than to beat the Bears? And the best part? I get the double win in the morning when I get to ride to work and listen to Chicago sports talk radio rehash the game!

We had fun at the 57th Street Children’s Book Festival over the weekend. Every year that we go, Evie enjoys it a little bit more as she gets old enough to appreciate the events. We listened to a story teller, made a crown, dug for pirate treasure, attended a music class, watched a dance troupe, painted and glued a paper box, and danced to some music (including jumping on some bubble wrap). Side note, Sara said, “Jeeze, there sure are a lot of pirate themed things here.” When will people realize, it is not me who is obsessed with pirates, but rather all rational human beings who are obsessed with pirates when confronted with their awesomeness.

Finally, the other day I opened the back door to discover an enormous spider web over the opening, trapping us inside. Right in the middle of the web, directly at eye level, sat Lillith the spider queen, bigger’n a quarter. I quickly slammed the door shut before she could spray venom in my eyes. Now I ask you, what could that mean with the web directly across the door opening like that, other than this enormous spider was trying to catch humans? Finally I took it out with a broom, shrieking and cursing the whole time. The spider sat for a while on the porch, memorizing my face before slowly sauntering under a potted plant. I could have squished her with the broom (at least so I told myself…that was a big spider) but do I really need the wrath of all the spiders in the world for killing their queen? No sir, I do not. So I let her go and the next day she had spun her human trap over Evie’s chair on the porch. That’s right, I put a little fear into her and she decided to try for smaller prey. Me 1, spider queen 0.