Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eardrum update, August 11

Wynn had her follow-up appointment Tuesday, and essentially we know now what we believed a week ago. Wynn will need reconstructive surgery on her left eardrum; they'll use a thin snip of muscle tissue to rebuild her eardrum & serve as a medium for regeneration. The procedure will take 3+ hours but she'll get to go home after surgery.
They tested her hearing again, and the audiologist found that on her right side, where the tube insertion was successful, the excess fluid has drained nicely and Wynn's hearing is on par or a little better than other kids her age. (Huge sigh of relief.)
On her left side, it seems the fluid has drained too, and she is actually picking up some sound; this is good news for the surgery as it means the little bones of the middle ear are still hooked up to the eardrum, and that part of the eardrum is at least trying to do its job.
The surgery is scheduled for September 21, which gives Wynn a chance at settling into her new Kindergarten routine and Ann a chance to settle into routine at her new school position, too.
Meanwhile -- Wynn's been taking swimming lessons, and tonight was the final lesson in her first course. The kids in the course got to ride in a foam canoe, apparently! And our Wynn more than passed her test - she floated on her back without needing a foam support; while on her back she was able to swim and change direction; and then she flipped over and swam for about 15 feet to the other side of the pool! Her teachers are very impressed at what she's learned in just the past 4 weeks.

While she is definitely ready to move on to the next level, the schedule for next month's course runs right into the ear surgery, so she'll have to pick it up in October. However, Ann and I take her to the YMCA on Friday night and Sunday morning for family swim time, so she'll still get to practice her skills.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eardrum update

We got the news we were pretty much expecting to hear at today's eardrum follow-up visit. Her right eardrum is healing up nicely and she's able to hear a much more complete range of sounds on that side. However, she's effectively deaf on the left side.

The left eardrum has a substantial tear which has been there for years. The examining doctor today was able to see right through it into the inner ear (using his normal scope.) The drum membrane is scarred and brittle, so it's not doing its job of vibrating when sound hits it and sending those vibrations into the little bones of the inner ear which are wired up to the brain. No idea what the cause of the tear was; obviously it wasn't there when she had tubes put in back in September 2007. Sometimes there can be a weak spot in the eardrum tissue and once a hole develops it can tear just like in a piece of fabric.

Surgical repair is the plan. There are two options - but we probably won't know which one we have to use until Wynn is on the operating table and the surgical team is attempting the repair:

1. "Patching" the tear using a small amount of tissue they would harvest from Wynn's jaw muscle. This would be a very thin layer of course, and it would serve as a base for her eardrum tissue to grow into. This surgery would take about an hour and recovery time would be a week or so.

2. A "lateral graft" - which is more like a total rebuild if they find there isn't enough viable eardrum tissue remaining to make the "patch" work. More muscle tissue would be needed, and the ear would need to be packed up for about 3 weeks to heal. This procedure would have her in surgery for 2 hours or more.

To make sure there aren't any other surprises hiding in her inner ear, after the exam we were sent downstairs to the Children's Hospital radiology department for a quick CT scan of Wynn's head. The rad tech was great, showing Wynn all the parts of the CT scanner, how the platform raised and moved through the machine, and what she'd need to do. (She loves to see people doing science and having scientific tools explained to her.) I put on a lead suit and stood next to my daughter as she got strapped in and the machine started its work.

Wynn was very, very good at keeping still, and the whole time she had to be strapped in was less than five minutes. No complaints, and the tech said she got good images.

We have a CD with the data, and a follow-up visit with the ear doctor next Tuesday to review it, determine the next steps, and probably get the repair surgery scheduled.

The start of the school year is coming up fast for Wynn and Ann - of course we'd like to get through this development as soon as we can to make kindergarten as enjoyable as possible.