Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Problem with Success

Have you ever had something go really really well? Like you nailed that proposal. People are going to write home about how amazing it was to sit in that meeting with you. Or you really parented that kid in public like a boss.  I mean... the moms in the next aisle over were taking notes and were amazed by how you got that toddler off the floor without messing up your hair, dropping your coffee, or raising your voice. Glory.

In Caleb's case today, he's wishing that his surgeon had been a little less successful about 6 months ago. At the end of May, Caleb had surgery on his left ear to repair a damaged ear drum.  It was a complicated procedure, but his recovery was phenomenally easy.  After two weeks, the surgeon removed the packing material, and what we've been waiting for for almost a year happened. Caleb heard. He could hear so well from his left, newly-repaired ear that if I whispered in his right, he would turn his head for me to repeat myself in his left.  It had achieved the sought-after status of the "preferred ear."

His personality altered drastically as he was able to hear what everyone around him was talking about. Amazing how easy it is to contribute to conversations when you actually can HEAR what others are saying. He played with his siblings more. He smiled more. He even became less self-absorbed since he could actually HEAR what people around him were feeling and needing.

An audiology test in October confirmed what we had been celebrating all summer.  Caleb's hearing in his left ear far exceeded his hearing in the right. Several options were presented to us (waiting, hearing aids, surgery), but David and I kept circling back to our desire for Caleb hear fully from both ears.  To be able to distinguish directionality of sound. To fully engage with the world.

Which brings us to today.  I'm sitting in the family surgical waiting room of Riley Hospital for Children.  We haven't met a person here that isn't top notch.  Their communications staff, their child life specialists, their nurses, and their doctors have done an incredible job of making sure we have all the information that we need to know Caleb will be well taken care of.  Caleb was completely calm and relaxed when he went back to surgery with the nurses, but let's just be honest... he'd rather not be here at all.

He'd rather be playing football or reading a book or even copying his spelling words than be here... because he's 11.  And the only thing he is thinking about right now is right now. At one point when we were talking about this surgery as an option, he said he would rather opt out. He made the fairly logical argument that it was his body and he should be able to choose if he wanted the surgery.  I then asked if we were to buy him ice cream if he would consider the surgery. He eager "yes" was a good teaching opportunity.  If you're still young enough that ice cream sways your major life decisions, you're too young to make major life decisions. So here we are.

We are 2 hours into a 3 hour procedure. A surgery updating nurse rotates around the room once an hour.  She's visited every operating room and gives updates on how each procedure is progressing.  It's truly beautiful to watch her extend grace and care to each family. 

Pray with us, please? That this procedure would result in Caleb having a functioning ear drum and that the ear drum will do its job rather than retracting into the middle ear. That Caleb would stay encouraged and find purpose in his 2-week recovery period of "no activity that works up a sweat." 

Update: The surgeon just came out and told us that the procedure appeared to be a complete success. He said that there was deterioration behind the ear drum that was causing a good portion of the hearing loss which they were able to repair with another prosthetic ear bone and a cartilege-reinforced ear drum graft, along with an ear tube to help the graft to not retract into the middle ear. So thankful. Thankful for this surgeon, this hospital, for Caleb, and for the guidance from the Lord to choose this road. Because what was successful once has the potential to be successful a second time. And, yes, we will be celebrating with some hard-earned ice cream.

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