Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ear Infections, Tubes or Something Else?

I stay away from heated debates about clipping your newborn son's body, breast feeding, and immunizations.  These are all a parent's decision and they make the best one they can for their child with the information they have available to them.  That being said, I won't debate my stance on ear tubes but I will share my story.  If my story helps one family, then it was worth the effort to tell it.

Many Dr's push tubes when a child has had a recurrent ear infection or fluid build up on their ears.  My son had this from birth to 18 months - they did antibiotic shots, he did overnight stays in the hospital with the flu because with his ears already causing him stomach upset it was so easy for him to dehydrate, you name it he'd been put through it.  Finally around a year old the Dr said maybe it was time for tubes.

I felt uneasy.  Most of the kids I had known to get tubes wound up having to redo them at least once.  It was a pita when the kid went swimming and stuck their head under when no one was looking, etc.   It's also a band aid procedure.  There.  That's how I feel about it without getting technical.  It means the child is having ear infections, don't know what the root cause is so let's put a band aid on it and stop it.

They also don't tell you the risks and complications.  Like the little boy who has constant puss drainage and his ear actually smells and the Drs say that's normal the tubes are doing their job until he's screaming in pain and you take him to the ER and it's the tube not fitting properly about to burst his ear drum.  Infected.  Painful.  Could potentially cause the hearing loss so many parents are trying to avoid.

So - my first step at a year old was to get online.  I discovered a common cause for the actual ear infection is allergies.  Allergies? No. My kid doesn't have those.  Have they been tested? Do you really know that for a fact?  Believe me when I say his list of allergies shocked everyone including his Dr.  He was allergic to dust, dogs, rice, peanut butter, and soy.  Almost half of what he was eating was probably causing part of his problems.  (On another note we went in for his retest when he started school and he'd outgrown all but the dust allergy! The only thing we always have to be aware of is the fact the peanut butter one could come back with a vengance.)

So we removed the allergens from his diet and environment as best as possible, who doesn't have a little dust exposure? Especially at the time living on a rural dust road.  I mean gravel road.  You get the idea.  After we got the allergies under control the fluid on his ears was lessened but still there.  Except now my Dr noticed something else, his adenoids were huge.  His tonsils were inflamed and swollen.

Sure enough, the ENT said he needed those removed before we did any more tube talk.  At 18 months he had those removed, it was a rough week trying to get him to drink after surgery and hydrate but if you asked me would I do it again?  My answer would be YES YES YES.

When you consider tubes consider the risks and ask yourself if you have ruled out the common culprit of allergies.  It's a simple stick test and the child can eat a sucker while the Dr checks their back/stomach for all of the common allergens.  In addition to the risks with tubes that get stuck, don't fall out naturally, get infected - are you prepared to do another tube surgery when that set falls out and the ears are still acting up? Then research how many kids with tubes wind up later getting tonsils/adenoids removed because now the chances have gone from putting them through surgery once for tubes, twice if they need a second set, and a third time for the tonsils/adenoids.

Tubes are a temporary solution and when they do their job as they are supposed to, everything's great.  I'm not telling you what to do.  It's your kid.  There are tonsil/adenoid removal risks too - everything has a risk.  I'd still point out there's a high % of people after tubes that wind up still having to have the other surgery though and I'd also point out in our case the tonsils/adenoids were a 100% success rate.  He never had another ear infection.  The child who's ears almost had the drum rupture from the tube and later did tonsils/adenoids - never had another infection after the tonsils.  Tonsils have risks too but in a lot of these cases your going to wind up doing it later anyway.

So just ask your Dr the questions now.  Ask them if it could be allergies.  Ask them if the tonsils are enlarged or adenoids.  Be comfortable with your decision to go the tube route and don't just think "everyone has tubes, it's 100% safe, and it's going to be a fix all" because a lot of parents feel let down when it didn't fix all.
Do the research, ask the questions, and feel comfortable.  Only you - not me, not the Internet, not any other mom has to live with the choices you make which is why I don't debate the above issues.  I didn't post this to debate tubes.  I posted this to tell OUR story and maybe give you a different perspective especially if like I was, your already uncomfortable going the tube route.

Friday, April 5, 2013


I've gotten behind with blogging this year because our school year has been strange.
It was our first full year of homeschool and it presented some unique challenges.
The first few months he didn't want to get in routine with school at all which was difficult, then he spent the next few months fighting school.

Right around the holidays his mood changed again and he's embraced homeschool.  I have let bits and pieces slip on my Facebook page throughout the year.  What changed around the halfway mark?  Well, I think a lot of it has to do with expecting himself to fail.  I know his capability so yes, he fought me earlier in the year.  I was pushing him in new ways.  Challenging him and he was used to being bored more often than not.  He wasn't bored and it was scary, new.

I don't think he realized the expectations either.  So he kept expecting a pass/fail system.  That if he did poorly he'd flunk a class.  Instead he found out if he didn't get it the first time, that was okay.  We would spend all week or two weeks on a math concept if we had to.  The important thing wasn't getting 100% on every assignment but rather making sure he knew the concept and could apply it.

Finding out the pressure was off, he began to embrace the challenges.  He has also grown so much this year. Like learning he might even like history!  He thought he hated it.  It has always been presented in a boring manner and he wasn't interested.  Instead I have started really using a variety of tools to teach the subject matter.  He knows his Civil War after this year and he can discuss it.  We incorporated it into our reading class by reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, we watched short video clips, a history channel movie, and even some modern films on slavery (I won't debate it so no, I won't tell you what movie we saw that went a long way opening his interest in the subject.  It doesn't matter if other moms agree or disagree with my choice, it served a purpose and worked for us!)  I used power points & worksheets.  My point is I didn't present the material in only one medium, one format.  By using the variety, I gave him more tools to learn with.

I'm hoping to blog more shorts from our past year when we start taking more breaks with the warmer weather - until then, if you take nothing else from today's post - take this:  Mix it up, mom!  We are not a class room of 30 so if your kid needs extra help in fractions, give them a week, two weeks, a month to learn fractions.   The time gets made up in other material that they fully grasp & understand in one day.  On the other hand, if we treat them like the classroom does and don't let them grasp the first concept, we set them up for failure on the rest of the unit.  There's some great math video's on Youtube.  There's some great downloadable curriculum materials online.  Google them.  Find them.  Your child will thank you for it.

Also mix up how you teach.  It doesn't have to be nothing but power points.  You can use whatever tools you think will work.  Find video's, power points, worksheets, books, short stories.  Whatever it takes to get them interested.  If they are younger, crafts work well.  Science experiments appeal to all ages and are great learning tools.  The more fun they have, the less learning feels like work.  So the more they want to do it.  It's not such a chore to get them motivated anymore.  These are lessons I have learned this year.

The last lesson I learned was to introduce something new that you know your child will be good at.  For instance, mine has always had a great grasp on vocabulary and speaking.  So I introduced French.  Inside I felt defeated before I tried because it's so hard to get him interested in change.  I shouldn't have worried.  He was naturally good at it because he picks up on speech very well.  He's excelled.  He has confidence with it. And he loves his French class!!! So give them one thing you know they are good at and let them run with it.  You may be surprised.  He's already hoping to master all of the online high school level French course so in high school he can consider learning a third language!  I was amazed to hear that.  He wants to pick up a couple of languages and learn them well for future job advantages as well as job opportunities.  He's thinking ahead.  We've accomplished a lot this year! What about you?