Thursday, 15 January 2015

Hope for the disillusioned Mum-Part 1

Finally...a small ray of hope. It's still a hope because efficacy will be revealed after the GP check up in a few weeks time. I am cautiously optimistic, and will be unabashedly grateful if this works for Tara.

Since she was about two or three Tara has suffered ear problems. I have been up and down to the doctor for years now, with no clear understanding or explanations given. All I get from the doctor is

a) A smile and a shrug
b) Wait and watch
c) Nothing can be done, she will probably grow out of it.

Now I have nothing against the above three responses, as long as they accompany some sound explanation. In the absence of any explanation by the experts in the field of medicine, it makes a Mum feel disempowered and angry.

After many interactions with doctors, some of whom were benign, others sharp and abrupt, I turned to the wonderful internet for some self education. After getting past the initial frightening worst case scenario reading on the topic, (A given when you get on the internet to look up anything), I settled into a more common sense balanced approach, and understood that Tara had something called Otitis Media with effusion, commonly called glue ear.

Basically the ear has three parts. The Outer ear, The Middle ear and the inner ear. Glue ear is caused in the middle ear area where the ear drum resides. In a normal human, the space behind the ear drum is filled with air. But for some people, (usually children under 7), that space gets filled with a glue like thick liquid. This causes the ear drum to not vibrate freely thus causing hearing problems, motion sickness, and other issues.

The usual exit for any trapped fluid in the middle ear is via the Eustachian tube. In adults it is more vertical so fluid naturally exits the space. In children below 7, the tube is not so vertical causing fluid to remain trapped, increasing the possibility of infecting this fluid and causing more serious infections. There is also sometimes blocking or narrowing of the Eustachian tube enhancing the possibility of glue being trapped and possibly infected.

Simply put, the solution to this problem lies in getting the glue out and air back in.

The current approach used by doctors is to wait and watch. If the child is lucky, the fluid gets absorbed by the body in around 3 months. In some other children it can take up to a year! In some unfortunate souls it doesn't disappear even after a year. Now this is assuming the child is fit and healthy and doesn't suffer back to back colds or illnesses, (like Tara). This reduces  the possibility of the fluid ever draining away completely.

Grommits. I hate the word. It conjures up evil images in my head. These are inserted via an operation into the child's ear drum as a sort of a dangly pipe to drain fluid out of the ear. Their effectiveness is debated and there is the likelihood of permanent hearing loss at the worst, should the ear drum scar while healing. Not a route I want to go down, nor has my GP recommended it yet.

I have "waited and watched" Tara suffer for years now. Some days we rush to A &E because she wakes up screaming..extremely ill with ear ache, vomiting, fever and "sounds of the ocean" in her ear. We are stressed while travelling since she always vomits in a car, train or plane. I regularly ride in the rear seat with Tara clutching bin bags to catch her vomit. Life with glue ear is horrible, mainly for the poor child and also for the helpless parents. be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment