Today marks the one-year anniversary of TD2’s surgery to have tubes put in her ears and her adenoids removed. I thought that was the going to be the end of the journey. Who knew it was just the beginning.
Before The Surgery
This actually all started 6 months before her surgery. It was a regular morning and I called her several times but she didn’t respond. Finally, I asked her did she hear me and she responded, “Huh? What did you say?”
To be fair, TD2 had a habit of pretending like she couldn’t hear you when she didn’t want to be bothered, so it wasn’t anything particularly alarming or out of the normal. But for some reason, this particular morning, it made me pause. I checked in with T-Daddy and TD2’s teacher. They all had noticed that she seemed to be ignoring us and claiming she couldn’t hear us just a little bit more than usual.
So I scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician who referred us to an Ear-Nose-Throat Specialist. Sure enough, she had a loss of hearing as a result of fluid buildup in her ear. Over the next couple of months, she went through a round of antibiotics, took antihistamines, saw an allergist, and a few other steps. The fluid remained in her ears. We had two choices: wait and see if she outgrew the fluid or have surgery to put tubes in that would drain the fluid in her ears. If we chose the surgery option, they would also look at her adenoids and remove those if they were enlarged. What. A. Decision.
T-Daddy and I did a ton of research and talked to people we knew that had had the surgery. We didn’t want to, but we decided to schedule the surgery. We let her teacher know. He told us that they performed a speech assessment and she hadn’t quite passed it. Based on the results, they weren’t sure if she had a speech delay or if it was normal for her age and planned to discuss further at parent-teacher conferences in the coming weeks.
So here we were anxiously waiting for this big surgery and both knowing what to expect and not knowing what to expect. A few days before, TD2 requested a Popeyes party with her family. My mom showed up with cake, and we ended up having a joint Popeyes surgery party for TD2/birthday party for my brother and me.
And then it was surgery day.
We had to be there super early, so their godfather came over to help TD1 get ready for school and drop her off. TD2 grabbed Coconey (the Build-A-Bear puppy her godbrother gave her named after the name she wanted to give TD3 when we told her we were pregnant), and off we went to the hospital. She was all smiles and so excited about the attention she was getting.
The surgery was quick. Everything went well, but her adenoids were super enlarged and they ended up removing them. By the time we made it to the back to see her, the anesthesia had already worn off. She was a mess, crying that she just wanted to leave the hospital and never come back again. I had been warned of hysteria and hallucinations when coming from under the anesthesia, but I hoped I would already be back there with her.
I rode with her in the back on the way home and she just wanted to FaceTime her sister. Luckily, the office staff was willing to pull TD1 into the office for a quick call. Once TD2 saw her sister, all was right with the world…for a few seconds. She cried again at home when she realized her voice sounded different to her.
Almost immediately, we noticed a huge difference in her hearing and breathing. She no longer snored at night. We didn’t have to speak so loudly or repeat ourselves. In fact, she kept asking us to talk softer. And wondering why she was the only one talking normal.
After The Surgery
For the next few days, she complained that her “neck” (throat) was sore. She had an endless diet of popsicles and yogurt around. But it was still hard for her watching TD1 eat her favorite snacks. Luckily, after a few days, she was back to eating the foods she loved.
Then, there was the one time we were sitting on the couch when TD2 just erupted in tears. I had just told her to get ready for a bath, so at first I thought she was just trying to stall. But she let out these hearty, gut-wrenching sobs. I let her cry for a bit before asking her what was wrong.
TD2: I don’t want to not do things anymore.
That first week of recovery was especially hard for her. It was spring break, but she couldn’t do anything. Couldn’t jump or flip. She had to watch what she ate and drank. Everything sounded different. The world as she had known it through her ears was different. It was a lot for a five-year-old.
And that surgery changed everything. I had even been warned that her personality might change once she was able to ear. And it did. She became a little sweeter, a little more confident, a lot more sensitive.
Her school did another assessment. She showed vast improvement, but there were still some areas of concern. They recommended her for a speech evaluation through the district. Unfortunately, by this time it was the end of the school year, so we would have to wait until the fall. By the time the new school year started, I was due any day (or so I thought, but we now know that was false news). Once TD3 was born, we had TD2’s hearing reevaluated to make sure that there was improvement since her surgery. Then she had her speech eval and it was confirmed she would need speech therapy.
A few things were pointed out to us and it became clear that what we thought were developmental mispronunciations were a little more than that. So T-Daddy and I made the hard decision to transfer the TDs from their school and enroll them in our neighborhood public school after winter break. TD2 started receiving speech therapy almost immediately.
While it was a tough decision, I know that it really was for the best. From the moment she had her eval, TD2 was so excited to do therapy. “I just want to talk correctly.” And while we’re just a few months into her therapy, we already notice a difference in her speech. She’s still sensitive when you can’t understand her or you correct her pronunciation. But in time, she’ll get there.
I had no idea that taking her to her doctor would set off a series of events that would lead to her having surgery and still even more things. But I’m glad that I listened to my gut when it kicked in. And I’m glad that we said yes to that surgery a year ago. TD2’s life is truly better because of it.