The One Millionth Post About My Kid’s Ears

I haven’t mentioned this before, but in the last few weeks Charlie’s been doing some weird things in physical therapy. He is actively trying to pull to a stand, but then he promptly falls down. When sitting in his Rifton chair, he sways back and forth like a person’s who’s had too many cocktails.

At first I thought it was just me, but then the PT noticed it too. Physically he seems stronger, but he can barely hold the standing position these days. Normally, I’d assume that he’s doing one of those things where one skill regresses in favor of another, but he seems genuinely interested in getting himself up, so that’s doesn’t seem to be the issue.

So I made a list like they do on House of all the things that could be causing these symptoms and came up with three possibilities:

  1. He’s having drainage issues with his shunt and that’s affecting his balance.
  2. He’s having a growth spurt and his muscles aren’t able to keep up with the demand.
  3. He’s having problems with his ears and that’s affecting his balance.

Anyone else cringe when they have to use the word affect/effect in a sentence? Hate that.

Anyway, we started with the ENT because that was a fairly easy appointment to get. We went in yesterday, I gave them the digest version of Charlie’s medical history including his recent falling down, and held Charlie in a wrestling move while he took a good, long look in Charlie’s ears. He also checked out his nose and throat.

After giving these parts a good, long look his professional opinion is that Charlie probably needs tubes in his ears and possibly an adenoidectomy. Neither ear drum is the right color and his left one is showing signs of scarring and is graying. This means that he probably has a chronic problem with fluid behind the ears. His tonsils are enlarged and that means that there’s a good chance his adenoids are as well. Add that to the fact that he’s got a lot of signs of mouth-breathing, and that means there’s a good chance that he would have enhanced breathing and drainage if his adenoids were removed. They can’t know for certain about the adenoids without looking at them, but he said the standard procedure is to schedule the adenoidectomy at the same time as the ear tubes and if the adenoids end up looking OK then they don’t remove them.

He also said, however, that Charlie is a complicated case and that he wouldn’t do any kind of surgery until his neurosurgeon and his cardiologist signed off on it. I’ve googled shunt and ear infections, but I can’t find any literature on whether or not you can have ear tube put in when you have a shunt. In case you didn’t know, shunt tubing runs behind Charlie’s right ear, which may complicate things. I’m hoping he could get a tube in his left ear at least, which is the worse one of the two. Cardiology isn’t an issue since we’ve been released, so I’m not too worried about that.

There was one funny moment where the doctor warned me that if we took out his adenoids then he would probably have to be intubated for the procedures. I smiled and said that Charlie always did well with anesthesia and he chuckled and said that I probably wasn’t going to be one of those moms who needed a Valium to get through ear tube surgery.

He did also say that whatever needs to be done to keep Charlie safe is fine with him. That means that Charlie may end up getting the procedure done at the hospital where he sees his other doctors, so everyone can be on hand if their are any problems.

I’m not happy about the idea of yet another surgery, but my understanding is that this is a pretty run-of-the-mill procedure and I’m completely interested in safe-guarding Charlie’s hearing.

Ahhh. . . . kids. . . it’s always something, isn’t it?

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  1. therextras says:

    Looks like you have covered all your (Charlie’s) bases.

    Our experience with ear tube surgery was that it ended years of problems and medications. My Hubby is near valium-requirement at the mention of surgery, so our child did not get the tubes until 10 years.


  2. fertylemyrtle says:

    My youngest 2 had tubes & adenoidectomies (?) together. Both sailed through it & it made a huge difference in their health. I think Charlie will be just fine. I love the pictures you've been posting! What a sweetie:)

  3. Ear Tubes and adenoid removal was the BEST thing we have ever done regarding Jack’s illnesses! He hasn’t had an ear infection since (he was a chronic ear guy) and he’s only had antibiotics a handful of times since the surgery two years ago.

    Jack has a shunt and we had zero issues with the ENT surgery.

    It was truly an “easy” surgery for our family (I mean compared to neurosurgery…) Jack recovered well and we see the ENT every 6-12 months now.

    PS — they mentioned intubation as well because of the adenoids but Jack never needed it. His adenoids came out with no issues.

    I will keep you guys in my thoughts!!


  4. Rural Felicity says:

    I do that, too, make lists of what could be, etc! Sounds like you have a good plan of action. G’s has a shunt but only minor ear issues. Hope the docs can figure something out!

  5. I had tubes in both ears and my adeniods remove when I was little. All I remember was not being able to put my under under water. I had to stuff my ears with sheeps wool to kep them dry. But…… I stopped having ear infections. He’ll be fine and hopefully tha will solve his balance problem

  6. Abbie had tubes. You remember that I am sure. She has now had fluid in her ears for 5 months again and 2 ear infections, so we may be calling Uncle Steve in Rusellville to see if she needs them again. Also, there is something wrong with her thumb, so they are sending us to ortho to look at it. She has either injured it, and it did not heal correctly or, it never developed properly in the first place. She screams sometimes and says it “pops”, and it will not straighten out properly. Weird. Old Charles will be fine with this minor surgery. We have seen him make it through much worse. Miss you guys.

  7. Ah, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. Poor kid. I was really hoping that the ear problem would just correct itself over some time. The tubes–not an easy fix, but like you said, you’ve been through worse. Hopefully that should fix it. How long before you’re able to get him in for that?