The end of this month we took Daniel went to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist because of his chronic ear infections. The doctor saw a polyp growing in his ear and was unable to determine how far in it had grown. He wanted to operate as soon as possible and we ended up with an appointment two days later!
That was Tuesday, so the operation was on Thursday and Daniel’s goodbye party at the Vlindertuin kindergarten was planned for Friday. Marjolein had to rush round like a mad thing (while being worried sick of course) arranging for him to have a party on Wednesday. She succeeded and the party was a big success.
That afternoon we got some bad news. My brother in law in England had died after a long fight against cancer. We had expected it to come, but now it was impossible to take the whole family. It meant flying and Daniel would not be allowed to fly for some time.
Daniel went into hospital on Thursday in pretty good spirits: Marjolein had explained what would happen as clearly as possible (with books of course) and he is in any case a sturdy little fellow. He enjoyed the bed-ride to the operating theatre and only raised an objection when he had to wear a mesh cap over his hair. He climbed onto the operation table himself and breathed deeply from the mask until he fell peacefully asleep.
Marjolein then had to wait while the operation took place (I was still at work). Based on her Internet research she hoped for half an hour and was prepared for an hour. It was an hour and a half and when I came in later she was still pretty shaken from the sheer stress of waiting for the result. She was also recovering from Daniel’s reaction when he woke up. Angry. ANGRY. VERY, VERY ANGRY. She was not surprised (we know how Daniel reacts to threatening situations) but the nurses certainly were. He had a huge turban on his head and tried valiantly to remove it, pull the drip out of his arm and make his way home. He, cried, screamed and called all of them idiots. Marjolein managed to get him on her lap and calm him down a bit, but he still needed to be prevented from jumping out of the bed while he was being taken back to the ward: he wanted to GO HOME, IDIOTS. That is our boy.
Once back in his room he drank a big glass of water very neatly, ate a ham-cheese croissant avidly and cooled down somewhat, though he still thought that adults that would not/could not take the drip out were pretty useless.
A bit later the drip came out and he started feeling more like himself. Shortly after he started playing with a pirate ship and bouncing around as per normal.
The doctor told us that they had removed an extensive growth: behind the polyp was a cholesteatoma. A cholesteatoma is an abnormal outgrowth of the skin of the eardrum into the middle ear. It is not a cancer, but it is a “benign” tumor. The surgeon also had to clear out the very extensive infection caused by the growth. Unfortunately cholesteatomas do erode the hearing bones it they are not detected early on, and this had occurred in Daniel’s case. In about nine months there will be a follow-up operation to check that the cholesteatoma has not returned (that can happen) and hopefully to implant artificial hearing bones. That may restore some of the hearing that he has now lost.
He had to spend that night in hospital so I sent Marjolein home (she was pretty much whacked) and stayed over with him. Given I was then sharing a room with what looked to be a very strict muslim lady with no common language that was an strange experience. Her little boy was very subdued and miserable, but Daniel made a continued and determined attempt to draw him out. Soon they were both tearing round the corridors on tricycles. It was a strange and rather subduing exper ience to spend the night in a ward full of sick children. We should never forget to count our blessings, there are worse things than a perfectly healthy child with a hearing loss in one ear…
We got out the next day and Daniel was largely back to his old self. It was a bit difficult keeping him clean without his ears ever getting splashed so when Marjolein took him in for a check-up she had some earplugs made: they put a sort of purple toothpaste in each ear and it hardens to make a perfect fit. They look like weird little sculptures, but now he can take showers and swim when he has them in.
The next Wednesday I flew to England for my brother-in-laws funeral. I got back on Saturday just in time for Marjolein and Daniel’s joint birthday party, though I missed Queens Day.
Just to keep us on our toes Marjolein got a nasty root inflammation and had to have it dug out and Daniel started a new school (as opposed to playschool) because he is now four.
For Marjolein’s birthday we surprised her with the digital camera she had picked out: there is no point in disappointing an uber-geek with something suboptimal but spontaneous. It also makes very nice little videos, which you will see on these pages from now on, but in a serverely compacted form.
Gasp. That was April that was. Tough month.