Medical Update: Myringotomy and Tympanostomy Tubes

In her quest to become a regular kid, Charlotte has been plagued since the beginning of pre-school with regular kid health concerns. She had so many ear infections during the school year that I truly lost count.

After consulting with her pediatrician, Dr. Newport, and her otolaryngologist, Dr. Billings, we decided to move forward with a myringotomy and the placement of tympanostomy tubes. Lots of fancy words to say that her ENT decided she needed tubes in her ears. Essentially, Dr. Billings planned to ventilate Charlotte’s inner ear by making a tiny incision in the ear drum and then make the ventilation “permanent” by placing the tubes.

The original plan had been to do this in August so as not to miss camp. But, Charlotte asked me to move the date up and “get her ears fixed” because she’s has a great deal of intermittent discomfort.

Bright and early this morning, we woke Charlotte up and took her to Children’s Memorial Hospital. She was delighted to head out in her pajamas, but quite distressed to be skipping breakfast. (Yes, you read that right!)

Our appointment was for 8:45 a.m. Per instructions, we arrived at 7:15 a.m. and waited to be called to the surgical suite. Once we were there, Nurse George heard Charlotte asking for a room with a window–he arranged that. Room number 8, her favorite number.

Nurse George doing Charlotte’s pre-op exam. Charlotte’s post-op RN was Nurse Tim. Two guys in one day. Wonders never cease!
After all the pre-surgical stuff (temperature, height, weight), the anesthesiologist walked us through his procedures and cautions. Given that this procedure requires about 10 minutes of laughing gas (more or less), we didn’t have to hear the dire warnings about possible serious negative outcomes of anesthesia. Nevertheless, having your kid put under general anesthesia–gas or IV, for a heart procedure or tubes or tonsillectomy–is quite nerve-racking.

Dr. Billings answered our questions. Here’s Charlotte’s question: “Will the tubes feel poky or sharp or like water in my ears?” Dr. Billings answer: “Nope!”

Dr. Billings listened intently to Charlotte’s question. The picture was overexposed, so here’s a shot of her walking us through post-op instructions.

Charlotte asked me to go with her to the operating room, so I suited up. As she puffed into the orange-scented mask (her choice of scent; I thought it smelled like orange cleaning fluid), the nurse suggested she try to make the balloon attached to the mask pop. Groggy and getting irritated by the medication (normal reaction), Charlotte whipped off her mask and said, “I don’t like when balloons pop!”
I sat with her until she was too goofy to know I left, her eyes rolling back in her head for the final sleep. My heart was pounding.

I met Philippe and we went to the waiting room. I need to pause and note that Carol, the waiting room attendant, has been at CMH for at least 4 years. She remembered us and asked how Charlotte was doing. What seriously amazing customer service.

Literally 10 minutes later, Dr. Billings came in to tell us that it was all done, Charlotte was in recovery, and that it had gone well. So well, in fact, that she cut the post-surgery ear drops by one day. I think that most of the lingering fluid (what had sent us to her to begin with) in Charlotte’s ear finally cleared up last week, to tell you the truth.

Charlotte woke up gradually, but happily. She was a bit grumpy because she was hungry, but ready to go.

We were on our way home by 9:00.

We were supposed to have her rest this morning. So, we watched about 30 minutes of The Sound of Music and read a stack of books. I’ve got a great video of more “resting” that I’ll try to post tomorrow. Charlotte ate a huge lunch and took a 3 hour nap.

Back to camp tomorrow, just a regular kid!