We took Judah to the ENT after his stay in the hospital, and lets just say it wasn't an extremely helpful visit.
First of all, I hate having to pack up 3 kids and go downtown for appointments. It means:
- leaving really early to get there on time in rush hour traffic
- bringing snacks
- and extra clothes (you never no when your almost 3-year-old will decide to have one of his very rare accidents)
- and water bottles
- and books and toys
- and the checkbook to pay for parking
- and everything else you can think of
- then parking in a ramp, which I also hate
- and finding where you have to go in this huge professional building
- and keeping your kids from running and screaming
- and waiting for your appointment while trying to keep your kids from playing with the germ-infested waiting room toys
- or knocking on the fish tank and yelling "HI FISH"
- then waiting in the exam room for the doctor while trying to keep your kids from pressing all the buttons and switches on the cool machines and eating spilled Cheerios off the floor
- then trying to talk to the doctor and ask him all your questions while corralling all your kids and trying to sweep up all the spilled snacks on the floor
- then gathering all the stuff you brought, plus a now crabby little one and exiting the building
- and finding your car in the ramp, which I can never do.
Anyway, the ENT found that Judah had ANOTHER ear infection - double, actually. He also was a bit huffy when I told him we hadn't filled the $90 prescription for Zantac that he had prescribed for Judah in the hospital. I told him Judah has NO signs of reflux, and Zantac seemed like a pretty heavy-duty drug for a little one, and it was really expensive, and we wanted to talk to him about it before giving it to Judah, but he seemed offended that we wouldn't just follow directions like good patients.
Also, he said Judah needs (as we expected) to be put under for a bronchioscope to check his upper airways and find out why his croup has been so bad and not responding to meds. But he also said that at the same time we should also put in ear tubes, since Judah has had 3 ear infections. Basically, he said, Judah will already be "under" so it would be the perfect time to do both procedures. This was a shock to me, even though I was cancerned about all Judah's ear infections. Neither of our other kids have ever had a single ear infection, so why Judah is struggling with them has been perplexing. But to say he needs ear tubes, at 13 months old, seemed drastic and scary.
I left feeling confused, concerned, and overwhelmed at all this. I felt very sad for little Judah, that he may need to be on this reflux drug for several years, have these two procedures done, be put under anesthesia, be on more antibiotics for the new ear infection, etc. etc. And I also was worried about how we would pay for $5000+ in new hospital bills for these procudures. And I was just stressed with the whole trip to the doctor in the first place. Plus we had to stop at the pharmacy to fill Judah's antibiotic, and Judah had missed his morning nap, and the kids were hungry for lunch by that time. So when we finally got home and I called Richard, I cried.
Richard, in his very calm, helpful way, said, Melissa, it's going to be fine. The fact that Judah is sick isn't your fault, and we'll find a way to pay for whatever he needs, and it's going to be alright. I sniffed and wiped my eyes and said, okay.
Then I called my mom, and she also helped me by saying we didn't have to just jump into the ear tubes. She said ear tubes are an ENT's bread and butter, and of course he's going to suggest them, but that doesn't mean we have to get them. She advised me to do some research before scheduling the surgery. I was like, of course! Do some research on alternatives to ear tubes! That's exactly what I need to do!
What I found was fascinating. I think it calls for a separate post to share it all, but suffice it to say that 1) chronic ear infections can be casued underlying issues that can be eliminated, 2) there are other treatments that are more effective and less invasive than ear tubes, 3) often antibiotics are not neccessary and can be counter-productive, and 4) ear tubes can be a good thing for some kids but aren't beneficial for many and are over-prescribed.
The bottom line is that we are trying other courses of action with Judah first, and will only schedule these two procedures if more natural treatments don't work. And I feel SO much better about the knowledge we've gained and the direction we're taking with him! And although in one sence what we're doing involves more "work" and lifestyle changes than just getting ear tubes would, I feel it's a MUCH better approach for us.
It's a good thing he's sooo happy!