Cora's Ear[s]

For about four years, aka half of Cora's life, we've been working to figure out some speech/hearing issues she's had. We started out in speech therapy when she was four. At her five-year-old well-child check, her doctor performed a tympanogram test. That's when we discovered her eardrums weren't vibrating and that she'd been experiencing chronic fluid build-up behind her eardrums. She'd had chronic ear infections since one. They almost all but went away after she stopped eating dairy products, yet this uninfected fluid remained.

We went to an audiologist, and her tests concluded that Cora was definitely experiencing hearing impairment. She'd essentially been hearing everything like she was underwater. We suspended speech to deal with hearing. She had tubes placed in August of 2013. Everything went great for a while. One of her tubes came out on its own, but the other, while I could see it, wasn't coming out. A few months ago, her ear that still had the tube started "weeping." We took her to the doctor, we got more ear drops and a referral to an ENT because I felt like we'd given the tube enough time to come out on its own. We got the referral, and literally months went by before we were able to get in. Last week, Cora's ear with the tube started bleeding. Like blood dripping out of her ear for 24 hours. We have quite a collection of prescription ear drops, so I treated it at home. The bleeding stopped.

At her ENT appointment yesterday, the doctor found that inflammatory tissue had grown in Cora's ear canal. It was the tissue itself, not her ear that had been producing the discharge and bleeding. As she prepared to remove the tissue, she said we might have to schedule a surgery to remove the tube if it was still in her eardrum (she couldn't see past the tissue). She worked for a bit, and pulled out a chunk of tissue. She went back in to do a little more clearing, and the tube came out! I was so relieved. She couldn't see Cora's ear drum all the way because there were still spots of inflammation. We're going back in three weeks so she can make sure her ear drum is in good shape. In the meantime, we're using a steroid/antibiotic combo ear drop for the next week.

As we left the office, Cora said, "Everything sounds so loud!" I've asked her several times if she could hear okay in the last few months. She always said, "Yes," but she'd obviously become used to the blockage. Her doctor has also ordered an x-ray so we can see if her adenoids are enlarged. This is such a big deal for me! For all of the speech pathologists we've seen, the sounds Cora couldn't quite make weren't that big of a deal to me. I thought it sounded like phonation was happening in an unusual place. When I discussed hyponasality with the doctor, she had Cora talk to her for a few minutes. Hyponasal is what it sounds like when our noses are stuffed up - Not enough air is passing through our nasal cavities. (This is versus hypernasal - When too much air is going through and one sounds like Fran Drescher.) After speaking with Cora, her doctor said she could hear it too. The adenoid gets involved because when it's enlarged, it blocks air from moving through the nasal cavity properly.

I'm really anxious to find out if there is another structural component to Cora's speech. The big one we're working on now is reshaping her upper palate to widen and lower it so it isn't so obstructive in her nasal cavity. There have been so many layers to the hearing/speech process. No singular step has been quite as clear cut as we'd hoped, but I feel like we're finally down to the last few pieces of the puzzle.

1 comment:

  1. Love that girl! She's so resilient! Hoping and praying for a great follow-up!



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