Benjamin’s ears, nose, and throat

A little over a year ago, Benjamin failed his first hearing test.  We had always thought he wasn’t listening, which was also the case.  As it turned out, he had both a hearing and a listening problem.

He had an ear infection, so the pediatrician cleared it up and then sent us to get a new hearing test, for which we could not get an appointment for two weeks, by which time he had a new ear infection.

We rinsed and repeated this process a few times till I wised up and made the appointment with the audiologist in advance, then scheduled a pediatrician appointment for the day before.

In the meantime, the pediatrician put him on Singulair, because a big part of the problem was that he was so clogged.  See, it wasn’t just his ears.  His nose had been running non-stop for over a year.  And, although I had not wanted to put him on allergy medication at the tender age of two-and-a-half, failing multiple hearing tests seemed like a big enough deal to warrant such a step.

The Singulair made a big difference.  His nose ran a lot less, and he stopped biting other children.  Both excellent outcomes.

Benjamin did pass a hearing test once, but his ears were partially clogged.  “When his ears are clear, he can hear fine,” the audiologist told me.  Right.  Got it.  But what the hell good does that do, since his ears were only clear on alternate Wednesdays when the moon was full?  Hearing is usually considered a more full-time occupation.

We went to the ENT.  “He’s not a candidate for tubes,” she told me.  “He’s probably just a stuffy kid.  Bring him back in six weeks and we’ll see if the stuffiness has cleared up.”

OK, by this point I was tired of bringing him back just for people to tell me that his only problem was that his ears and nose clogged, with absolutely no suggestion as to how to fix it.  Plus, we were about to move across the country.  We threw up our hands and let the Singulair do its job.

Except that he was on it every. single. day.

He is three years old.

We wanted to get him the hell off the medicine.

Plus, it didn’t clear him up completely.

And, he still didn’t listen.

So, I took him to the allergist two months ago to determine just what it was that he is allergic to.  They did a full panel and we found out, that’s for sure.  He is allergic to…

Nothing.

The kid has no allergies.  “So why the hell is he on Singulair?” I asked the allergist, except I didn’t say “hell” because I rarely if ever curse in real life.

“Look, the Singulair is working.  Just keep him on it.  You and the pediatrician can try taking him off in the dead of the summer.”  We had taken him off for a few days in the dead of the winter, and suffice it to say that didn’t go very well.

Neither my husband nor I were particularly impressed with the “leave him on the drugs” idea without a diagnosis.  Plus, I began hearing people around me throwing around a word I had never heard before.  “Adenoids.”  As in, “We thought it was allergies, but then we had her adenoids taken out, and she’s like a new child.”  That’s an outcome I could get behind.

We took him off the Singulair eleven days ago.  By the following Monday – last week – he already had copious amounts of snot running out of his nose.

“You want to get his adenoids checked?” our new pediatrician asked.  “That’s an unusual request.”  Then she looked up his nose.  “Well, that stuff’s all green.  That’s infection.  It very well could be his adenoids.”

She wrote down the number for the ENT.  “Listen, we used to send kids to the ENT, and they’d put them on this nose spray and send them back to us.  Let’s skip that step.  Here’s a prescription for the nose spray.  Make the ENT appointment for two weeks from now, so he’ll already have been on the nose spray.”  Now, that’s the kind of medical treatment I can get behind – skip the whole chasing-our-tails portion of the program.

As the week went by, Benjamin’s behavior took a turn.  Straight towards hell.  He was hitting us and kicking and pinching.  He took two hours to get to bed, doing things like screaming, laughing, and kicking the wall when we put him in the room.  He ran in front of moving armored trucks, shoved his sister behind the couch, and woke his brother up one morning by throwing the guard rail down from the top bunk.  Needless to say, he is no longer allowed to sleep on the top bunk.

“I think he’s in pain,” I told a friend.

“Why don’t you try giving him Tylenol before bed and see if it helps?” she suggested.  So, Saturday night I did.

And he went to bed without a peep.

Holy shit.  The kid had been in so much pain it had completely changed his personality.  OK, not completely, because he’s always been a maniac, but the fact is we have no idea how much he has been in chronic pain that was partially masked by the Singulair.  It’s possible that a large chunk of his Crazy comes from the medical issues.  We just don’t know, and we won’t until we see the ENT next Monday.

Today, I’ll take him to the pediatrician, in case there is an acute problem on top of the chronic one.  That he’s been in so much pain makes me worry about his tonsils.  And, next week I’ll take him to the ENT, who I hope does not try to tell me he’s just a stuffy kid.  Maybe someday soon, he’ll wake up without pain.

I think it’s too much to ask that he also learn how to listen.

13 responses to “Benjamin’s ears, nose, and throat

  1. Wow. That’s great that you have some information and proof. Poor little guy.

  2. Poor thing. Good luck.

  3. So frustrating not to have a diagnosis – hope the ENT people play nicely and actually DO something.

  4. coldspaghetti

    Poor kid. The jumping-through-hoops thing with kids’ health is really frustrating. Don’t know if it will add anything (since you seem to have nailed it with the adenoids thing) but anatomy can change — and sometimes not for the better, as is usually the case. Will never had ear problems until he was older and ended up having hearing issues and infections at age 5. He has tubes now, which is rare for a kid so old.

  5. Poor little dude. I have an ear infection right now (my first in 10 years), and it has made me grouchy, annoyed, quick to anger….and a LOT more empathetic with my own little guy who gets them a lot. I really hope that you guys get your magic diagnosis and Benjamin can feel great again. And it’s also worth noting that it’s pretty amazing he’s so lovable and sweet most of the time if he’s feeling less that 100%. Good luck!

  6. I know the prevailing wisdom nowadays is to avoid tonsillectomies and adenoid removal – but as a kid, I was sick so often with ear and throat issues that it was ridiculous – all because of chronic tonsillitis. When I finally got my tonsils and adenoids out at age NINE, it was like a miracle.

    I hesitate to tell you to push for surgery, because obviously, such a step for your child needs to be a careful decision between you and your medical pros. However, Benjamin’s woes sound so much like mine that I can’t NOT tell you it *could* be the very solution he needs.

    Hope you guys get some answers soon and some relief for the wee man.

  7. Poor guy– I hope that this all gets settled soon! No fun.

  8. We went through the same thing with A.

    I felt like a horrible mother when I figured out how much pain she had been in. (We went through 2 full winters of perpetual antibiotics before we FINALLY got the referral to the ENT and had her adenoids removed and tubes put in! It breaks my heart every time I think about the two years…)

    All I can say is that you need to be your kid’s advocate.

    Now that A. is almost 5 we’re on our way back to the allergist. The surgery changed her completely (even made her hair grow faster and she grew 3 inches in one year!) but she’s got the runny nose and dark circles again…

    I’ve been told that allergies are uncommon before the age of 5 and don’t show up on testing unless they are pretty serious. So medicine like Singular work on kids “without allergies” because there is an underlying allergy problem that hasn’t shown up yet.

    Hang in there.

    Oh – and Singular made A. crazy…. it’s one of the side-effects that they don’t tell you about… so keep an eye out.

  9. Poor lil kid. And poor mom too. I know you feel his misery. I hope that the ENT has solutions.

  10. Gosh this is awful, poor little fella, hope you get some answers and solutions soon xx

  11. Whew! Here is hope for an end of the run-a-round.

  12. Cheeky Monkey

    Oy. We’re experiencing similar issues with Lucy, although not quite so traumatic. Something about moving to Switz has messed her up big time. So there’s also discussion about adenoid removal. Hope you guys get the answers you need soon. Poor Benjamin.

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