It’s been a while since my last post because, if I’m honest, I just haven’t been in a ‘sharing’ space these last few weeks. Life has been quite intense and, at times, overwhelming, largely because we have been navigating our way through a sea of specialists and speculation in an effort to address the red flags that started waving around the subject of The Guy’s speech and hearing a short while ago. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely haven’t been sitting about and wallowing – once we decided to investigate the possibility that The Guy may have trouble hearing I got totally on board and adopted my usual “what will be will be” attitude – but it has been an emotionally exhausting journey, albeit a relatively short-lived one.
It’s actually been so draining that I considered not going ahead with this follow-up piece, thinking that I could get away with just leaving the outcome up in the air because people probably wouldn’t even notice right? But the love and concern that we have received from so many people, coupled with daily messages and calls asking after progress with The Guy’s story has spurred me on. The final decision was made when a friend pointed out that our experience might help other parents who find themselves on a similar path and I knew she had a point. And so here I am, typing the next instalment of The Guy’s ‘adventure’.
I hope you will forgive me for breaking this saga up into two more separate posts, I just feel like it’s a big ask to expect others to invest large amounts of time reading about our little family, so I’ll try for ‘bite sized chunks’ instead!
After my previous post I took myself off for a cup of coffee with The Guy’s incredibly supportive and encouraging teacher and headmistress. Together we chuckled about some of The Guy’s quirks, gushed about his cuteness and agreed that a trip to the Audiologist might be a very good idea. With the probability of speech therapy on the horizon, we might as well be one step ahead and eliminate or address any potential hearing problems right off the bat so that we could intervene with the necessary assistance earlier rather than later.
After doing a bit of homework The Husdabind and I decided to take The Guy to an Audiologist in town on the recommendation of a friend. The Guy, relishing the fact that he had his mother’s undivided attention for once in his ‘third-child-syndrome’ life suddenly and dramatically erupted from his reserved, quiet shell. My goodness, despite being barely intelligible, this child can chat up a storm when he spots the opportunity – the backseat driver struggle was real as he cheerfully insisted that I had driven down the wrong road, crossed the incorrect bridge and was mistaken about the doctor’s rooms that I was pulling up to! He kept the chatter up the entire time I was filling in forms in the waiting room, pausing only to earnestly test out a book with a squeaky rubber tomato embedded in the cover about a gazillion times in a row. It worked so well that, after a quick exchange of glances and a sneaky wink from this mama, the receptionist asked if she could also have a turn, and then accidentally ‘lost’ it under a cushion – gosh, darn it!
The audiologist was a wonderfully patient, warm woman who astounded me by getting my wriggle-bum to sit as quietly as a mouse while she did the visual pre-hearing test checks using a number of fancy looking instruments that spat information out onto a screen. Unfortunately we didn’t get as far as the hearing test because she discovered that The Guy had a waxy buildup and what she suspected was fluid behind the eardrums, and recommened that we take him to an ENT to clear the ‘gunk’ out in theatre before bringing him back to complete the hearing test. She suspected that this combination was definitely affecting his hearing, and therefore his speech, likening it to listening to somebody speaking under water – you can hear that there’s sound but you can’t quite make out what is being said.
I left the rooms on that day armed with a list of recommended ENT’s and feeling hugely relieved and considerably lighter – we had an explanation for The Guy’s speech and a plan of action. Things were looking up, so with a spring in my step I took my little boy, who had made me so proud by cooperating with the audiologist like a star, for a celebratory bubblegum milkshake because it’s not a celebration unless somebody has a bright blue tongue.
Fast forward a few days and it was time for a visit to the ENT we had selected for so many reasons incuding recommendations from trustworthy sources, conveniently located rooms, appointment availability and, of course, affordability. Reassured in the knowledge that this journey was drawing to a close, and that we just needed to have a brief consultation and book a theatre date for the ‘cleaning spree’ so that we could be on our merry way back to the Audioloist, The Guy and I arrived at the hospital 15 minutes early only to be met by a locked door. Hmmm…. Not perterbed, we set about exploring the corridors, greeting doctors and nurses, peeking in through open doors of the various waiting rooms and chatting about what each kind of specialist’s job was. The Guy was fascinated, and lapping up the undivided attention from his mommy once again!
Eventually our ENT arrived, flustered because his secretary seemed to be M.I.A and not quite sure how to start the admin ball rolling himself from the look of things. Paperwork conquered, we were invited into his consulting room where he greeted my boy sweetly, listened carefully to our story to date, made copious amounts of notes, had a brief glance into The Guy’s ears with a light and gave us the ‘all clear’. No wax, no fluid behind the eardrums, no need for any further intervention from him.
I could feel myself deflating as I was ushered back out of the door, meekly accepting a referral letter to a specialised paediatric audiologist with a warning that they could send me straight back to him depending on what they find. Walking away from the ENT’s rooms with my ‘neat and tidy solution’ dreams in tatters I fought back tears of disappointment and frustration while listening to my little man cheerfully chirping next to me, excitedly pushing buttons with his little hands to call the lift to take us back downstairs and out into the parking lot. There was a storm of conflicting emotions going on inside me. How could this doctor’s feedback be the polar opposite of the previous one’s when she had used sophisticated looking instruments and taken her time giving The Guy a thorough examination while doctor 2 had just glanced into the ears with a light for 10 seconds and waved us on our way? He is a specialist though, surely he knew what he was doing and could interpret what he was looking at? Maybe he didn’t need the fancy instruments? But the first doctor told me that there was defintely build up and it was affecting his hearing, how had that vanished in the space of a few days? If there was really nothing there, how could we explain The Guy’s speech?
I desperately wanted to trust that the specialists knew what they were doing, but deep down I was feeling very unsettled and uneasy, a feeling that just got worse as I spoke to other professionals and parents who worked with or had experienced similar with their own children and patients. The overwhelming consensus from my heart, my support system and, interestingly enough, the paediatric audiologists to whom I had been referred, was to take the Guy to another ENT for a second opinion.
And so there we were, back at square one, empty handed with no answers once again. The puzzle that had fitted together so perfectly only hours before was back in pieces – we needed to start again at the very beginning.
To be continued…