Here with a Mitchell update today! After I got home from my girls trip to Phoenix, we geared up for a mid-week appointment at the surgery center here at the Naval Hospital. Nothing major – just tubes for his ears. It was his first time under general anesthesia, though, so naturally we were a little worried. But once again, our military hospital pulled through with some excellent care and a quick and easy day.
Long story short, this surgery was a long time coming. I’ve talked about Mitchell’s delayed speech development in the past. All expressive speech delays, and while he’s improving, he definitely still has some work to do to catch completely up. But this is a giant step in the right direction. Mitchell is coming up on a year of speech therapy now, with some (but not extraordinary) improvement. All along the while we’ve had nearly monthly ear infections. It made for a rough winter for this little guy and a long deployment for this working mommy. We (based on many-a-doctor appointments) think the ear infections and speech delay are related. After specialty appointments with an ENT and an audiologist, we determined Mitchell’s ears never drain fluid. Meaning everything he hears sounds like it is under water. It’s no wonder he has a hard time learning sounds! So by putting in ear tubes, his ears can finally drain – for the first time in his life! Without all that fluid, there is nothing to get infected, and he should hear clearly now too! Double win.
The surgery itself took about an hour. We got him checked in, finalized the paperwork, and he was off. He insisted on taking all his comfort items. Which meant the beloved brown blankie and fire truck both went to surgery. Funniest part was I tried to take his sneakers off and he refused. The surgical nurse told me she tried to take his sneakers off too once they made it upstairs, and he, again, insisted to keep them on. And so our stubborn boy got to wear those worn out Nikes with the scuffed toes during surgery.
The surgery itself only took about five minutes once he was asleep. Doctor’s orders were for me to crawl in the hospital bed with him so he woke up in Mommy’s arms, and that’s exactly what we did. It took about two hours for the anesthesia to wear off completely, and the doctor sent us packing.
Back to work I went and Mitchell stayed on the couch with Daddy all day. Having Daddy home to help (lately he’s been doing practically everything around here) has been such an amazing change of pace. So far we’ve noticed a few minor differences post-surgery. He’s a little sensitive to loud noises and hearing the vacuum for the first time was a bit of a surprise. He’s also repeating words now, which we seem to think is because he can hear what he’s saying. Time will tell how the tubes will affect his hearing and speech, but if all they do is get rid of the ear infections, that’s okay too! I’m looking to have a happy and healthy boy next cold season! A few people have asked us about swimming and such. The tubes are temporary (should fall out in about two years), and he can swim just fine without earplugs!
Next up in the speech journey… we got the word he’s officially qualified for an IEP through the school, so we have our last meeting this week to finalize the public school speech services he’ll start in the fall. Beginning in August, he’ll have speech services through his current provider and services through our local elementary school. Four to five days a week of speech, combined with a greater ability to hear, will hopefully be the ticket to get him back on track with his peers. We’re hoping by getting him all the help he needs now will help him when he starts Pre-K (in just 16 months – cue the Mommy tears), especially since he’ll be one of the very youngest in his class. I’m sure we’ll be back with more speech updates in the future. We’ve certainly learned a lot since we started this process. Navigating all these doctors and special education services needs an instruction manual!