Sunday, April 20, 2008
Neither Mo nor I want to verbalize it, for fear of hexes, but this could be a huge week for Hope. We got the long-awaited call late last week: The surgery for ear tubes is Friday, followed by a BAER test to determine if they did the trick.
If they do, my oh my, she can hear.
Supposedly, it's a routine, short outpatient operation. She goes in early Friday, is sedated so her head remains perfectly still, undergoes a 15-30 minute procedure to implant the tubes, has the hearing test and should go home that afternoon.
Our pediatric ear-nose-and-throat specialist, Dr. Frosty, has a good track record. This is his bread-and-butter. He's only failed to implant one patient and he got them in on the second try a few months later. But No. 2 is inevitable at some point, and he cautions that Hope's ear canals are tiny.
Like a lot with Hope, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We need to temper our nerves, excitement and wide-eyed eagerness with sober realism. There's a chance it won't work, so we'll have to proceed to hearing aids, wait until Hope gets bigger and try again. There's a chance it will work, the tubes might not make a difference and she'll need the aids anyway.
Either way, the odds of improving Hope's hearing are good. She has conductive hearing loss, which means the inner workings of the ear are fine but there's a blockage that prevents sound from reaching them. The tiny canals may be the culprit, but so could wax buildup, fluid or a missing bone.
We're convinced that Hope's hearing has slowly improved since the first BAER test, which revealed she could detect sounds at high pitches or extreme volumes. She startles sometimes. Every once in a while, we'll call her name and she'll turn to us. Then again, one of our smoke detectors is perilously close to our oven. It squawks nearly nightly. Hope doesn't seem to mind.
So we've proceeded as though hearing is an inevitability. We read to her. We sing her songs. We babble about our day and carry on conversations that she likely can't hear. But she sees us moving our lips and pays rapt attention. Hopefully, when those wagging lips begin to produce sounds she can comprehend, she'll put it together and life will be good.
But you never know. Dr. Frosty assures us that kids are resilient and "do fine" after successful surgeries. Still, we wonder about the adjustment. All of a sudden, if things work the way we want, Hope's world will expand exponentially. In addition to sights, smells, touch and taste, she'll have this whole sensation to figure out. Will it be melodious or cacophony? Will it expand her burgeoning sense of wonder or simply overwhelm? Will "Running Away from Mom" sound nearly as cool if she can hear my singing?
Nor are tubes a cure-all. Sometimes, I've deluded myself into believing that our path will suddenly become easier once tubes are implanted. The skies will open. God will rain M&Ms from the sky and remove the brown ones. And I will suddenly have a full head of hair. Big Mo brings me back to Earth, pointing out that hearing is just one part of the puzzle toward communication, which is always a challenge with Cornelia de Lange kids.
Still, we're excited. The benefits are hundreds of times better than any niggling concerns and it's such a relief to finally be doing something after what seemed like months of limbo. So we do what's beginning to come naturally: Take whatever comes as a gift and roll with it.