We met with the ear specialist today. We were fortunate in that he specializes in both the right and left ear, and we didn't have to see two different doctors. We were also fortunate in that he was close a 10 on the Listens To The Parents scale. Docs who think they know more about a patient they've just met than the patient's own mother tend to rank very low with said mothers. Dr. Ear Specialist is a definite winner.
I learned all sorts of fun and new things today, including the fact that Micah now has a sign for surgery. He points to his ears, then to his arm. I assured him that it was just an ear appointment today and an IV would not be part of it. He was visibly relieved for 5 minutes before asking all over again. It was a stressful day for the poor boy. Micah also doesn't like parking garages. For whatever odd reason, he was very freaked out over the whole parking garage thing. Odd, that.
The good doc's first solution for patients who expel tubes as frequently as Micah does is to give him the T-tubes, which are practically guaranteed to last 2-3 years at a minimum. He was duly impressed that Micah had those and expelled them in 3 months. Not shocked, just duly impressed. I got the impression that there's not much this doctor hasn't seen. This experience is reassuring, as was his kindness and patience with Micah. And his thorough exam. I really liked this doctor. A lot.
The second solution is a little more invasive and involved, and for this reason he'll only do one ear at a time. When the first ear is stabilized, he'll do the other. A piece of cartilage will be taken from Micah's outer ear and used to form a grommet. Said grommet will be inserted into Micah's ear drum, and the ear tube inserted into this grommet. The cartilage will reinforce the hole, thereby keeping the tube in place much longer than normal. In fact, when the tube finally does come out, the cartilage grommet will stay in, thereby reducing the need to cut the ear drum repeatedly. Sometimes twice yearly. He says this has been very successful in patients like Micah, and they've had tubes stay in place for the full 2-3 years.
One can definitely hope, right? Actually, I was nearly jumping up and down inside my head as he was telling us this.
Because of that whole thing where the doctor wants one ear healed and stable before doing the second ear, and because both tubes now need replaced, the doctor will put a tube in the second ear that will,most likely be expelled in a few months. When that comes out, we'll have the other ear done with a cartilage grommet, too. And then, hopefully, we won't have need of surgery for a few years to come.
I'm not going to lie; this fascinates me. I try not to think about it all happening on my kid, but the science of it truly is amazing. I'm not really looking forward to the very early 90 minute drive for the surgery (we've become so spoiled, having tubes done at the local hospital just 15 minutes away), but I'm so glad there's an option that is going to be more lasting than the options we've been doing. And if we can get tubes to last longer than 11 months (Micah's record!), it'll be a win all around.