Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Looking Back into the Fog

I guess that I feel it's necessary to explain the thing that threw me so off track so I'm going to start there. This is going to be a long informational post. However, if you have children (especially children that have had chronic ear infections) I urge you to read it. I wish I had gotten a hold of this information sooner.

On Chloe's first birthday (August 30) she came down with a nasty cold. Btw, I have only one picture from her birthday. I pulled one picture of her off of my memory card and after that, it was somehow damaged and I haven't been able to retrieve those pictures. If anyone has any ideas about that, I would love you forever. Anyway, she came down with a cold and was feeling really yucky. I began to wean her as I did Emma at one year and so naturally, I thought part of her fussiness was due to that. Her seemingly need to still nurse was too overwhelming and I gave in to both mine and her desires to continue what I see as a wonderful part of babyhood. I saved the weaning for a later time and we continued on with a persistent runny nose. About two weeks later, Emma woke screaming one night saying that her ear was hurting. The next morning, I loaded all three children in the car (including Maggie, the baby that I babysit) and headed off to the doctor. I figured while we were there, I could have the doctor check out Chloe also. Sure enough, Emma had an ear infection and to my surprise, Chloe had a double ear infection. Doses of antibiotics for both and at the recheck Emma's ears were clear but Chloe's still infected. Maggie had an ear infection around this time also so my thinking was that maybe there was a strong bacteria that needed an antibiotic.

Now, I'm a firm believer in letting my children "cry it out" unless they are sick or hurting. I also believe that antibiotics are overused and that when we dose our children over and over, not only are we hindering our children's ability to naturally fight infection, we are also feeding immunities to the bacteria which in turn will result in more and more sickness for everyone. However, I was desperate to ease her pain and frantic because my child had something that I could not get rid of. And, since I didn't have a solution myself, I followed the doctor's orders and gave her more antibiotics. So, three antibiotics later, the ear infection was still there and I had an appointment with an ENT and two months of no sleep. I have such a high respect for mothers that have dealt with an on-going or terminal illness with a child. I know that in the grand scheme of things, an ear infection is not that big of a deal but to me, not being able to make my child better made me feel like I couldn't do my job as a mother. I can not imagine the desperation a mother must feel when they have a child suffering from something worse.

It seemed suspicious to me that Chloe had never had an ear infection and then at 13 months, she got one that we couldn't get rid off so, I did a little or maybe lot of internet research. I found a lot of mother's saying that dairy was the culprit of their children's ear infections. Now I know that there is a lot of crazy information out there on the internet but I also know that some of the best advice that I've gotten has been from mothers who have actually experienced things and aren't trying to make their children fit a text book description. And since it was also around her first birthday that I introduced milk, I figured it couldn't hurt to take dairy out for a week and see what happened. A week later, we headed off to visit the ENT to find out that her ear infection was gone. They checked her hearing and found out that some "temporary" hearing loss had occurred and though the ear infection was gone, her inner ears were packed with fluid. The ENT insisted that the fluid would not go away on it's own though he admitted that many children did have a strong sensitivity to milk and that he thought that sensitivity did often cause ear infections. He told me that if I didn't put tubes in her ears, that her ears would continue to get re-infected and her speech would not develop correctly. And he said that even though it might be due to a milk allergy, putting tubes in would take care of it and I wouldn't have to worry about her diet. I kindly thanked him for his time but told him that I was going to give her two months with no dairy to see if the fluid would go away on it's own and that she had her 15 month checkup coming up and I would have the doctor look at them then. I came home and purchased an otoscope off of the internet. I was able to keep a check on her ears to make sure that they weren't getting infected but I wasn't really sure how to tell about the fluid. On December the 10th, we went in for her 15th month check up. I went in equipped with my defense (charts of where I had kept up with her protein, calcium, and iron intake) and fully ready to change doctors if he was not supportive of my decision to take her off of dairy. This is how that visit went:

He came in, checked her out as doctor normally does at a check up and then looked in her ears and said nothing.. So this is how the conversation went:
me: so how to her ears look?
doctor: great
me: you mean there is no fluid?
doctor: no, they look perfect
me: you know you sent me to an ENT don't you.
doctor: looks through her chart. Yeah, I see that I did.

I then explained to him what I had done and then very defensively told him that I was keeping her off dairy and that I had been charting her nutrient intake and that I knew that she was getting the nutrients that she needed.

And to my surprise, he responded by saying that many children did have a sensitivity to milk and that he had several patients that ate a dairy free diet and that they were just as healthy as his other patients and that he didn't even think that cow's milk was the best nutrition for a child and that if I did decide to try milk again, goats milk might be the way to go because goats milk was made for an animal more the size of a child while cows milk was made for an animal the size of a cow. INFORMATION THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL THREE MONTHS AGO!
He also told me that it wasn't necessary to chart her nutrient intake because she would take what she needed from the food she ate (which I don't totally buy). But anyway, he was more supportive than I expected. Since then, I have read in many different places that researches believe that at least 50% of children have some sort of sensitivity to dairy products. I wish I had figured this out before I put her on three unnecessary antibiotics. But, here we are many months later: tube free, dairy free, and ear infection free, at least for now. And, we moved on to other illnesses like stomach viruses which made for an interesting Disney World trip! But that'll have to wait until later. Chloe is sitting beside me repeatedly calling momma and telling me what she wants with precise clarity.. Speech seems fine to me.