In her first 2 years of life, my darling daughter, Calamity Jayne, had more than 20 ear infections. It seems that every time she caught a cold, she got an ear infection. And she caught a lot of colds.
I feel totally cheated by this injustice.
I nursed her for nine months – throwing caution and modesty to the wind by pumping in offices, airports, and hotel rooms. I took nursing-lunches in our car when my uber-understanding hub drove down to my office to afford me baby time during my post-partum battle.
Yet my bub was a snotty, sneezy mess for much of her young life. She had several ear infections that lasted months because the antibiotics we used to treat her didn’t cure the infection.
Pediatricians we saw offered little advice.
Instead, we were reassured that “kids get sick.” I admit, I was comforted that this wasn’t my ‘fault.’ As a first-time parent, I was fairly convinced that I was doing it wrong. (And by “it” I mean everything.)
We saw plenty of pediatricians. This wasn’t a situation where one doctor was responsible for our inability to prevent or treat her ear infections. Our Chicago practice has more than a dozen doctors on staff. We love being able to get an appointment at any time and having the diversity of experience, thought, and treatment that all those doctors provide. Our St. Louis practice was smaller but seemed wholly competent in their
treatment and fairly advanced in their technology and organization.
We thought we were doing everything we could. And our doctors agreed.
Earlier this year, we saw a doctor at our Chicago practice in her 50s. She took quite a long time with us (a rarity among all sick-care providers) and reviewed CJ’s charts all the way back to her birth. She was really shocked at the volume of infections and the frequency with which we returned to the office.
She raised the red-flag.
She told us she suspected that the antibiotic courses we’d been given our daughter (non-penicillin because of an allergy) weren’t strong enough to kill the underlying sinus infection. So, although the ear cleared with the single round, the sinus infection raged on and then landed right back in the ear(s).
This made sense.
She put us on back-to-back rounds of antibiotics. Until the cough was gone (that pesky post-nasal drip from my childhood seems to have been inherited by Big Red), we kept re-upping the antibiotics.
Finally, after three rounds, the child was cough-free, sniffles free and ear pain free.
Around this time, my sage sister-in-law also raised the issue that no child this age should be doing so many rounds of antibiotics. Drugs, as they say, are bad, mmkay? Well, not ALL bad, but certainly this was a disproportionate amount of unnatural toxins for the itty-body of a toddler. That, and she might just develop immunity to the only strain of antibiotics she can take leaving her susceptible to horrible sickness that most people would, well, sneeze at.
My sis also recommended that we see a specialist. An Otolaryngologist. So we got a recommendation, made an appointment, and saw a specialist.
The specialist asked us why we had waited so long to get our daughter seen.
Instead of “kids get sick,” we were told that CJ was having far too many infections and could absolutely benefit from getting grommets inserted to help with drainage. We were also encouraged to hear that the surgery might improve her mood and manner considerably.
Calamity might very well be acting out because of her constant discomfort.
Like any parent of a toddler wants to enjoy additional fits and general obnoxiousness just for giggles!
I hated the idea of putting my precious little baby girl under anesthesia, and my growing belly was wrecking havoc on my logic and emotional stability, but I didn’t see how I could justify not giving my daughter some relief.
So we had the surgery.
And I cried buckets when she went in and buckets more when she came out.
But she’s been ear pain free ever since… for six months. And that’s a miracle.
So, my hub and I have asked ourselves… what did take so long? Why didn’t we know to see a specialist and get the ear tubes done after the first six, ten, twelve, fifteen, etc. infections/ rounds of antibiotics?
Sadly and cynically, it seems the clear answer would be because our pediatricians don’t get paid if we stop coming to see them for ear infections. And was the surgery necessary? How can we know for certain? But we do know that the Otolaryngologist wouldn’t get paid if she didn’t absolutely endorse her speciality.
Medicine for profit is bullshit.
It makes a mess of patient care and breeds mistrust.
I want to respect and trust medical professionals. I want to know that they have my and my family’s HEALTH in their best interest – NOT what procedures are billable, NOT what drugs they are incentivized to promote, NOT what the insurance company covers at a higher percentage.
I don’t trust any of this is happening.
Medicine is enough of a guessing game without making patients wonder if they’re actually getting their doctor’s best recommendation or the best priced one?
The system is broken and it is making us broke.