Maybe my child has a hearing issue …. {breath in … breath out … try not to panic}

I had an audiologist appointment with Isabelle today. If you have never been to an audiologist (with a child) basically you get put into a 3 x 3 x 1.5 metre room that is sound proof.  Audiologist sits in front of the room (front of the room has a glass window) she has speakers in the room which she controls.

Sounds are emitted from the speakers and based on your child’s reaction she assesses whether your child has normal, or below normal hearing.   I assumed the last bit, I actually have no idea how it works, but there is a monkey with a tambourine in one corner and a duck with a trumpet … I think that if these items are part of your standard work-tools, well that commands a certain level of respect right there.

To say it did not go well, does not quite hint at the extent of it.  I figured that if she was going to use an interesting sound like “white noise” well what do you expect.  Isabelle showed little to no reaction to the sound – even when it was loud enough to make me wince.

She was totally absorbed in her building-blocks game, and the fact that there was noise blaring out of the speakers on either side of her head, showed little in the way of interest for her.

She did react when the audiologist put through sounds that she created “b – b -b – b – b ….. ” and “d -d – d- d ….” and then went back to her blocks, not really interested/reacting to the other sounds.

Audiologist was not exactly brimming confidence, and asked if we would not mind going to see an ENT. Today.  She miraculously she got us an appointment.  I looked at the sheet she sent with us, and I really cannot fathom much, but there are little marks on a grid/graph and then a dotted line which I assume is the “normal/ideal” range, and Isabelle appears to be miles away from it on the graph.

ENT guy said, hmmmm, and again not in a “hey, yippeeee” kind of tone, more in a “okkkkkaaaaay, this is not ideal” sort of way.  He said there was a build up of wax deep in her ear canal, which he removed with the aid of something not dissimilar to a crochet hook. Isabelle was calm and did not flinch, so I was hoping her good behaviour got her some points.

He relooked and he said that there is thick liquid trapped behind her ear drum, and that more than likely this is causing the poor hearing, and may be the cause of her inability to communicate, as she cannot hear.

I tried to explain that maybe it was because Isabelle has been a bit off for the last week, and her nose is runny and maybe that is it.

Dr ENT tried to explain that sure it might be, but unless I have had her hearing tested there is no way to know whether the fluid has been there a week or for a year.  I had never had her hearing tested – even as a newborn.

Dr ENT said that we could go one of two options.  1.  Treat with Cortisone, and reassess in 6 weeks to see if the fluid has drained.  2.  Make an appointment and fit grommits.

I commented that I thought grommits were a bit invasive for a child who has never been to a paed, let alone an ENT.  Isabelle is +3 and she has probably had two courses of antibiotics in her life, one of those I requested as a preventative response.

Crikey, general anaesthetic to fit grommits, which might, assuming it does not go well, leave scar tissue on her ear drum membrane which in itself could lead to hearing loss. Grommits which may in their design cause ENT issues that we have never had before.

I am one who is usually reluctant to follow main stream medicine and doctor recommendations, but this one came out of left field.  We discussed pro’s and con’s and I sat there feeling that his recommendation was to go with grommits.  His logic was why waste more time where she can’t hear – go in, sort it out and then look at the results.

I opted to go with the Cortisone, and to wait 6 weeks and then retest and see where we are.  I have nothing against grommits, really I think they are the answer to kids with ENT issues – Connor was an ENT child, and we had 3 sets fitted.

But the entire thing just felt a bit jarring as a first step option.

So the short answer is, yes, Isabelle is no hearing at the correct level.  Is it the reason her speech is so far behind/lagging, I am not sure.

I have a speech assessment appointment next week, I have booked a follow up with ENT guy for the first week of September.  I will book a retest with the audiologist after ENT guy has taken a look.

If the fluid has not drained then the only option is to go straight to grommits.

I realise grommits are really pedestrian, everyone and their neighbour’s dog has them, but the idea of subjecting Isabelle to any surgery, unless I am 100% convinced there is no other option, then I would like to hold back a while and think about it a bit.

{PS: I do kick myself that I did not do a hearing test as a routine thing when she was 2 years old!!!  I feel this was a huge over sight on my part and had I had it checked out then, we may well be quite a few giant steps ahead than where we are right now.  Don’t you just heart mother guilt? Like with wreckless abandone.}