Sean is pretty great. Born in late January, by November and early December of last year he was already picking up works like “ball” and “milk” and was a few days away (I felt) from the big ones like Mommy and Daddy.
Christmas came around and, with it, a whole lot of traveling. It seemed almost inevitable that at least one of us would wrap up the holiday season sick, and in this case it turned out to be pretty much all of us, in different ways. Sean’s particular ailment was an ear infection, his first. This was something I’d been dreading for awhile because ear infections plagued my childhood, cost me the hearing in one of my ears (a particularly nasty infection that lead to a fever of about 104 and some pretty vivid hallucinations), and remain a perennial problem even today. Kaylee dodged this bullet (she got her mother’s mouth and sinus structure, I guess, which means no ear infections but a lot of time at the dentist), but Sean… not so much. By the time he turned a year old, he’d been to the doctor three times for ear infections, all of which seemed to get progressively more difficult to treat, and ever since then it’s been a constant struggle — he’s pretty much been taking some kind of medicine for the last 3 months, non-stop, with very brief windows where he’s totally okay. It’s screwed with his eating, his (and our) sleep schedule… it’s just been exhausting.
Also, he’s pretty much stopped talking. He rocks sign language (which the daycare teaches all the kids), but while he’s got no problem making lots of sounds, he’s not making words — in fact, he’s pretty much lost the few he had.
The last time we had him into the doctor (we’ve been there so often that the nearby pharmacy staff recognize us all on sight and ask after Sean by name), he suggested that we bring him in the next time he was feeling well, so he could get a look at his ears when they were clear. Kate did that on Wednesday.
But his ears weren’t clear.
No infection, but there was still a lot of fluid. His eardrums basically weren’t moving at all, because of the fluid pressure, and the doc told us to get in to see a specialist, which (wonder of wonders) we were able to do the very next day (yesterday).
Long story short: Sean basically hasn’t been able to to hear us clearly since Christmas. Obviously, this would be a problem for any kid, but in our house — where songs and sound are such a big part of pretty much every moment of the day; the primary way we interact with him — it feels like we just found out he can’t see us.
(Related story: When I was in high school, someone asked me which sense — sight or hearing — I would choose to lose, if I had to choose one or the other. Without hesitation, I said I’d rather be blind than deaf, because to me sound just seemed so much more important. Ironic, given the condition of my ears today.)
The good news is, he can hear perfectly, if the fluid isn’t a factor — the normal hearing tests indicated hearing reduction on the far side of “moderate”, but when they put a bone-conductive ‘headphone’ speaker on him, his reaction to the sound was like seeing someone flip on a light switch.
So they’re going to drain that fluid with a procedure, put some temporary millimeter-wide tubes in to keep the ears clear, and also do some work on his adenoids, since they seem to be causing the whole problem. It’s a little scary, obviously, because it’s a medical procedure on your little guy.
But at the same time I’m excited.
Sean is a happy kid; you can look at the picture at the beginning of this post — a type of picture that is in no way unusual for our son — and see that. When he’s not sick, he’s a delight, and even when he is he’s still pretty damn great.
But to be able to fix this? It’s going to be — I think — like getting him back. All the way back.
I want him to hear our voices. I want him to know our names.
I want to hear him sing.