Monday, November 2, 2009

Can you hear me now?

Well, we certainly didn't see that one coming! Today's appointment with the otlaryngologist (also known as Ear-Nose-Throat, or ENT, specialists) was the second in his spate of specialist meet and greets, and we expected it to be so uneventful that I opted to skip this one. The primary purpose of the visit was to evaluate his cleft palate, and though we're occasionally jolted awake by a heart-wrenching wail accompanied by milk dribbling out his nose, Bryce's reflux issues seem to be relatively minor.

You can imagine my surprise when I heard a catch in Christie's voice as she called with the post-appointment report. As predicted, the doctor wasn't concerned with the feeding-related aspects of the cleft palate, especially given how well (just shy of nine pounds!) Bryce has been doing. However, what we didn't know is that there are a number of ear problems which are commonly associated with a cleft palate. I wasn't there to get all the details, but as I understand it a cleft palate can cause (temporary or permanent) hearing loss due to fluid build-up or problems with pressure equalization, and the very fact that he has a cleft palate makes it more likely that he has a congenital defect of the ear, since the two develop at the same time.

The ENT repeated Bryce's newborn hearing exam, and this time he failed in both ears. So, they conducted another test (called the OAE) that measures how well his ear drums respond to sound, and the results were marginal; he didn't completely fail, but it was a D- at best. The doctor recommended that we schedule yet another test, called the ABR, at the hospital, which will allow them to measure his neurological response to sound. As I've said before, we know that he can hear to some degree, but I suppose that the ability to hear a pot dropped on a tile floor doesn't necessarily imply the ability to hear Mama's affectionate whispers. Unfortunately, the ENT warned us that it's unlikely we'll be able to get an appointment for the new test before 2010, so we won't have any more answers for a while.

Typical preemie drama aside, our little man is doing awesome. He's still sleeping for long stretches at night and he's starting to look downright chunky. If we can make it through the remaining appointments without any more curveballs, I'd say things are looking up for the Sonnek family. Print this post

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