The dreaded ear infections. You look at your toddler and see a runny nose. And then it happens. Just like a miniature Carol Burnett, your precious toddler looks up at you with innocent eyes and tugs on her ear.
With four kids who all have extra small ear canals, ear infections have been a pretty regular occurrence in our house. We are regulars at the Iowa Clinic ENT office and even joke about putting the doctor’s kids through college.
But, how many ear infections are too many?
Most likely if your child has had more than three ear infections in a short amount of time your pediatrician will refer you to an ENT or Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. The ENT will test ear pressure and hearing and determine if surgically placing ear tubes would benefit your child.
They will schedule a surgery date for you, usually within 1-2 weeks. My nine year old with dysfunctional ear canals will tell you that after 6 ear tube surgeries, the waiting is the hardest part.
On surgery day a nurse will call your child into the pre-operation room and ask you some questions. Most notably, she will ask you what surgery your child is having done.
The first time we went in for my son’s tubes, my husband was horrified when our nurse asked him what procedure we were expecting. Thinking she was asking because the doctor truly didn’t know, my husband gave an in-depth account of our son’s medical history. Laughing, the nurse then explained she only asked us to verify that we understood what was being done.
Sitting in pre-op is much like living out a night in A Christmas Carol. You will have three main visitors: your admission nurse, the doctor performing the surgery, and the anesthesiologist. They will all ask questions and allow you gather any last-minute information that will ease your fears.
My husband and I have always insisted that one of us walks our child back to the operating room. Ultimately, the anesthesiologist gets to decide if he is going to let the parents carry in their own child.
So, what should you expect during surgery?
If you walk your child back, you will be allowed in the OR until he is asleep. The anesthesiologist will place a mask over your child’s nose and mouth. As the child is falling asleep it is possible he will thrash a bit, shake and roll his eyes back. He may look scared.
Your job as a parent is to remain completely calm and assure your little one that everything is ok. As soon as your child has fallen asleep someone will quickly usher you out of the room. Before you’ve had time to gather all your belongings, grab a complimentary cup of coffee, and find a seat in the waiting room, a nurse will be calling your name. It most likely takes longer to read this blog post than it will take your doctor to do your little one’s surgery!
The nurses will quickly reunite you with your kiddo and the snuggling can begin! Some children wake up screaming, which is completely normal. Others just look confused and are completely unaware anything has happened.
After surgery care is very simple. Doctors will give your little one ear drops and pain reliever in the OR. The nurses will provide instructions on how and when to use the drops at home. And within a few hours of surgery, your snuggly little patient will be up and running around with the added bonus of being able to hear a little more clearly!