It’s official: chronic ear infection

The face of a sick Thane
The face of a sick Thane

My dominant impression of my youngest’s health is that he’s healthy as an ox. (Also, he weighs as much as an ox, but that’s a separate complaint.) I don’t think I’ve taken a sick day for him yet (knocks on wood). But each time I brought him in for his well-baby appointments after about 6 months, he’d fail the ear check (it seems). I’d go fill the prescription, dose him with Amox-Clav and not pay too much attention. He’d get really fussy. I’d bring him in. His ears would have fluid. We’d recheck. His ears would have fluid.

But this never has seemed to BOTHER him much. Even Thane fussy is a sweet, fun little kid.

But. But but.

The 102.8 on Christmas Eve was a scary high fever, especially since I wasn’t sure of the direction. He stayed hot all through Christmas, before slowly cooling off. And then the crying jags. For 20 minutes he’d scream and writhe and scream and scream and scream. It was horrible. I’d be about ready to scream too. And then he’d notice his favorite toy: a milk jug. Or he’d just suddenly settle. (Of course, many of the screaming jags were punctuated by a dose of Tylenol, which let’s just all admit here and now, Tylenol is a wonder drug.) And he’d pull his ear.

By Christmas, I was pretty sure what was up. Two days after finishing antibiotics for an ear infection which had already drawn the “if this doesn’t clear this up I’m calling it chronic” warning from our pediatrician? No other symptoms? Ear pulling? It didn’t take a genius to figure this one out.

I begged the on call pediatrician for anesthetic eardrops, and waited nearly an hour in Walgreens while they attempted to figure out how to get them to me. And this morning bright and early Thane and his father went to see his doctor to verify our suspicions.

Thane is now on his last-ditch antibiotics and we’re supposed to be lining up surgery for him for ear tubes. Surgery. As in “general anesthetic” and “fasting”. For my baby. Oof.

So, in my role as “mom” I’m spending today fretting. Examples of my frets include:

  • Is my son’s hearing and verbal development compromised by his constant ear infections? Is THIS why he refuses to say nose? (I doubt it. Did I mention he said “Duck” and “Quack quack” yesterday? And that when I asked him what a duck said, he said “Quack quack”? But only when I can hear him.)
  • Seriously, surgery?
  • Doesn’t this mean he’ll have to wear ear plugs whenever he goes swimming?
  • And general anesthetic?
  • What sort of problems will we encounter due to the sheer volume of Amox-Clav the child has consumed? (He loves it!)
  • Has my son been hurting for months and I’ve done too little to help, lulled by his general good nature?
  • And how cool is it that Mass Eye and Ear is a very short walk from my house?
  • Answer: Cool. But surgery is uncool.
  • Oh, my sweet Thane. I’m sorry you spent your second Christmas hurting. I’m sorry that you might have to have surgery. I’m sorry, kiddo. I hope that in future years you’re shocked to learn this was ever an issue.

    Enjoy your week of summer!

    It’s hot here in the greater Boston area. The last three days it’s been in the low 90s during the day, high 70s at night with the standard miserable amount of humidity. It has been a very cold summer so far. This has been our first real heat wave, and given that we’re in the middle of August, there isn’t a whole lot of really hot possibilities left. We don’t have central air conditioning — instead we have four really big, really have box ACs that we usually put in the windows — cursing and sweating — somewhere in early July. They’re so obnoxious to install and then remove that we don’t put them in until we HAVE to. And now it seems a little late. All that effort for the remaining two or three weeks where it MIGHT be that hot? Turn on the overhead fans, and suffer, says I.

    Then on Saturday in his good-night nursing, Thane seemed hot. Really hot. To the touch. All that night he seemed really hot. When we finally got around to taking his temperature, even after we’d administered Tylenol, it came in at 102.4. Ouch. 90 outside. 102.4 in your body. So you’d think that Thane would be super fussy and uncomfortable. Nah. He’s mellow and going with the flow, although he is a touch fussier than usual and is completely uninterested in food. (That’s ok — you don’t need to eat a ton all the time. I do, however, wish he was more interested in beverages. I think he’s at high risk for dehydration.)

    So my helpful brother installed the AC in Thane’s room. It’s already one of my favorite rooms in the house. Now, however, I am trying to talk my husband into moving our bed there.

    I’m working from home with Thane today. My brother took Grey to and (will) from daycare, and is pinch-hitting with Thane while I work. His temp was down to an unmedicated 99.9 this morning and 99.4 this afternoon, so he’s clearly on the mend. I might’ve sent him to daycare this time last year, but with the swine flu rooting around, it seems like the better thing to do to keep him home. My only regret is that work has AC.

    I spent most of the weekend making jam. Ok, that’s not ACTUALLY true, but it feels true. On Saturday, after swimming lessons and before our trip to the pool I made a batch of strawberry jam from $2/pint organic strawberries from the Farmer’s Market outside the YMCA in Melrose. Then I made blueberry jam from our farmshare blueberries. Then I realized I’d totally underestimated just how much sugar jam takes and my paltry 5 lb bag was completed wiped out.

    Sunday, my husband and Grey picked up more sugar and pectin for me after church. I put in a second batch of strawberry jam from the farmer’s market strawberries (strawberry is the jam of choice in our household). I have plans for two to three more batches. I have peaches, but I didn’t buy QUITE enough and I’m likely to get some from our farmshare tomorrow. Also, the peaches aren’t quite ripe, so they can stand another day or two of sitting around. I’m also planning on farmshare apricot jam. I got only about half the apricots I needed, so I processed them and will hopefully get another 20 apricots this week, which should be enough. My husband has requested marmalade, which I’ve never made before, so I may give that a shot, too.

    So my jam count:
    2 strawberry (completed)
    1 blueberry (completed – unless I get a lot more farmshare blueberrries)
    1 peach (fruit obtained)
    1 apricot (50% fruit obtained)
    1 marmalade (speculative)

    I find jamming intensely satisfying. There is something about capturing the moment – about your hard work turning these ephemeral items into the durable, delicious product that I will eat for the rest of the year, share with friends, give as gifts, and feed my family with.

    It’s also something I’ve done since I was a girl. My mom has been making raspberry jam every summer since well before I was, er, 6? I know we had raspberries in Prosser, and I think she planted them in Bonner’s Ferry. Fresh homemade jam plus fresh homemade bread is one of the great delights of summer.

    When I stand stirring the dark jam, the hot sugar and fruit smell permeated the kitchen, with sweat beading out and darkening the small curls on the back of my neck, hearing the “pop” of the previous batch of jam setting. Well. Those are the moments that are the last to leave you when you look back on your life.