Thursday, November 7, 2019

Taste and Hear

We are two days post-op from Caleb's right ear tympanoplasty. If that sounds complicated, is. I marvel at the hands that can operate on some of the smallest bones in the body with delicate precision through a hole that is the size of my pinky fingernail. Caleb had a cartilege-enforced graft created to replace his eardrum that had been perforated as well as a prosthetic earbone placed behind that graft to enable to him to hopefully correctly register sounds. And while the surgeon was working his magic, he also placed an ear tube to allow the pressure from Caleb's eustachian tubes to not pull on the ear drum quite so much.

Though everything looked great to the surgeon when he filled Caleb's auditory canal with surgical packing, put a cotton ball over it, and sent us home; we are now in a waiting game. In a little over two weeks, we return to Indy for the same surgeon to remove the packing material to see if the most important test is passed.  The look.

It happened last time when Caleb had the packing removed from his left ear.  The surgeon was steadily working to remove the material when all of a sudden my 11-year-old burst out with a "WHOA!" Sound finally was able to reach a fully functioning, freshly grafted ear drum. It was magical! His eyebrows lifted, his eyes lit up, and he kept telling us how loud the world was! In my mind, that look is more telling than the audiology report.

In addition to praying for his hearing to be restored, Caleb has had a new twist in recovery this surgery.  Did you know that there are nerves in your ear that control your ability to taste? Pretty wild, huh? I wondered if something was off when Caleb didn't devour all the chicken fries when he came home from surgery... when he said they tasted... different.

Then the next day Caleb said nothing tasted quite right. Most flavors seemed very much the same unless they were a dark chocolate bar. Now, you might be thinking, "Of course, the only thing he says he tastes well is dark chocolate. I'd say that too if you'd bring me a bar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner." That thought crossed my mind, but the louder voice in my head was that of a friend whose son had a similar surgery and struggled for a few weeks with an altered sense of taste.

Calls to both that friend today as well as the surgeon's office confirmed that we are now playing yet another waiting game...waiting for Caleb to regain his sense of taste. So far today, we've had a major victory in discovering that Caleb can taste eggs if I season them strongly. Bacon is also on the list of strong flavors that he registers. Ron Swanson would be proud. Odds are good that within a few weeks, he'll be back to enjoying his favorites; but until then we're pushing strong spices and flavors and giving thanks that nerves regenerate. Because...let's just be honest, if I had to pick between being able to hear in both ears and being able to taste, I'd be the partly deaf woman in the corner with ice cream slathered all over her face.

So tonight we had breakfast for supper, and this morning I dropped by Culver's to pick up some pints of dark chocolate frozen custard. If you have to wait to both taste and hear, why not live it up?

Also, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the texts, emails, posted comments, and prayers. We're grateful to know there are people praying when the journey takes a turn we didn't anticipate. So many of those messages came through at the exact right moment that we needed an encouraging word. Sometimes technology really IS useful. Blessings to you all.

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