Eh? Speak up! I Can’t Hear You!

Elisabeth de Meuron, commonly known as Madame ...

I'm picking up Radio 3 on this thing! More antibiotics, my good man! (Photo credit: Wikipedia. Madame de Meuron)

I blogged a wee while ago about being ill. Well, you might have guessed by my silence since that I’ve been ill for a while…

I thought I was recovering when I wrote that post, but then spent the entire weekend in bed, unable to get out for longer than a wobble to the loo. So I guess this is proper man-flu, then? By Monday it had gotten better enough that I was fit to look after 3 (still-not-100%) minxes so long as I didn’t walk too far or stray too far from tissues or coffee. But the sinusitis it had turned into on the Friday was worse. Lots worse. Ouchie. Green goopy ectoplasm. Ewwwwwww.

I got me and Mini Minx to the practice nurse to assess if our sore chests were chest infections. Nope. So that was a relief. She gave me the go-ahead to continue munching paracetamol, ibuprofen and sudafed like they’d not affect my liver one little bit. By Thursday, I was so congested that the hearing in my right ear went. Overnight. I woke up Thursday and couldn’t hear. I tried to see the GP on Thursday and Friday but couldn’t get an appointment at all, not even an emergency one.

Aside rant: note to Doctor’s Receptionists. I started ringing the surgery the minute before the phone lines opened. Each time I got an engaged tone, I hit redial. Again and again and again. My 3 minxes caused chaos unhindered until I finally got into the phone queue. So that was only a 20 minutes wait. I then waited another 6 or so minutes in the queue to be answered. To be told there were no appointments available until next week. Fair enough. But I was then scolded for not phoning at 8am. Er, hello? What do you think I’ve been doing for the last 26-27 minutes? Having a leisurely cup of tea before despatching my man-servant to the phone, with a flick of my idle fingers? Do I sound well to you? Or are you having a pointless go at me because you know I’m too poorly to rip your head off with a few choice words over the phone? Do you think I’m in thrall to you, thinking that if I’m nice to you that you’ll get me an appointment faster? Non. And don’t ever scold me like I’m a feckless teenager: I’m a 41 year old responsible adult who would actually rather stick pins in my eyes than sit in a doctor’s waiting room, hoovering all the local germs up my nose. I’m phoning you because I *have* to, not because I *want* to, you half-wit. Maybe if you were more efficient doing your job answering the phone and dealing with people, the queues to be dealt with wouldn’t be so long. And if you were less dour-faced and whingey on the phone, people might be more pleasant / less unpleasant back to you!

On Monday, I phoned the surgery again. Only a 13 minute wait to be answered, so that was a vast improvement. By now even the hearing in my left ear was dodgy. I could barely hear the receptionist: “What’s that? You’ve got an appointment today? I’m sorry, please will you speak up? It’s a very quiet line and my hearing is very poor. No, I can’t hear you: again, please? I’m so sorry about this, one more time? Was that 9.40 this morning? … Um, I still can’t hear… I’ll come round at 9.40 this morning then. Thank you very much!”

So whether the doctor was expecting me or not, I was sat there waiting from 9.30am. He called me through at 10am. On the one hand, he was an absolute star about Midi and Mini, giving them free-reign of his room and a handy boxful of (very noisy electronic) toys. But on the other, he insisted that I wait and see. I pointed out that I clearly had a bacterial infection (green streaming ectoplasm for nearly 3 weeks) and my hearing had been gone for 5 days. Bless him, he then took down a leaflet and started to quote numbers at me. Fatal flaw – I couldn’t have argued if he’d just said no, go away. But numbers… Bring it on!

“Guidelines are that 69% of the population gain no benefit if antibiotics are given within 8-10 days of the onset of sinusitis”, he read out.
“I’ve had sinusitis for 11 days.”
Dr: “But you said 5”
Me: “No, I’ve been deaf for 5 days; my right eye-socket’s been killing me for 11″
Dr: “But… 8-10 days….”
Me: “11 days is more than 8-10. I’m past those guidelines.”
Dr: “The leaflet…”
Me, interrupting: “…says I should be better now. I’m not. I’m in a lot of pain”
Dr, weakening: “My boss won’t be happy with me; antibiotics are very expensive”
Me, pouncing: “Tell him I forced you. And I’d be very, very grateful”

Well, it’s now Day 7 of being partly deaf. The green goo has mostly gone (hooray! I might be able to start knitting again!) Doing the school run is trying, because I have to be so aware of the girls 100% of the time, rather than just when I hear oncoming traffic. And I can’t hear cars racing up from just around the corner, so find it hard to judge when to cross. Luckily with my blue hair, red jacket and Maxi’s yellow neon bag, they see *me* in enough time to screech to a stop before knocking us over.

Looking on the bright side, though, only hearing half the volume of this noisy household is doing wonders for my stress levels – absolutely fantastic bonus!

General Minxiness

Just a bit of an update post, really.

Mini Minx is now proudly standing on her own 2 little (long, thin, banana) feet for up to a minute at a time.  If me or The Boss don’t see her standing tall, she’ll shriek till we look over, then beam with delight as we cheer madly.  I predict that she’ll take her first steps by the weekend.  Then I will need eyes up my bum, as she moves so blooming quickly, and usually towards the nearest point of danger.  She can exploit potential minxdom in anything she finds, that child…  She still only has 2 proper teeth and one just poked through.  Her hair is still a strange colour (ginger / brown / blonde / see-through), and she still enjoys being wrapped.  We’re getting fast at strapping ourselves together so I can do things with both hands (separate her sisters from a fight, clean up mess, put out kitchen fires, that kind of thing…).  It’s not so much that she likes being close to me – it’s so she can pull my ears and rub banana / baby snot in my hair and down my neck.  She knows fine what she’s doing – she usually giggles just before she rubs some mushy substance where it really shouldn’t go.  Her favourite song right now is “Eyes, Nose, Cheeky-cheeky, Chin” and she claps along to anything with a beat.  Tantrums aren’t far away – she got really frustrated yesterday at not being allowed to ‘help’ me change her sisters’ bedsheets, so yelled through clenched gums, buried her face in the sheets, and pulled her head back with the sheets between her gums/teeth.  Biting in frustration?  Already?  Oh hell…

We had ice cream cones tonight after dinner, pressed into chocolate sprinkles.  Just as Mini sank her 3 teeth into hers, The Boss remembered that brand of ice cream had egg in it.  As he whipped it away, to Mini’s indignant protests, Maxi commented kindly: “Gosh, I hope R isn’t going to get another egg infection!” 🙂

Midi Minx has taken a bit of a stretch.  A few weeks ago her feet were a 7H; they’re now 8H.  I’m looking at her latest new shoes and wondering how the hell she can walk in them without falling over – they’re like flippers.  I ordered absolutely everything Start-rite did in an 8H (both pairs!), so Midi plumped for her favourite ‘Meg shoes’* instead of the cute red ones with butterflies and sparkles on.  Still, the cute red ones had a sole that’s so much wider than the already-wide shoe that, never mind flippers, she looked like she was wearing snow shoes!

*So-called because they’re black and look like witch’s shoes to a 3 year old (‘Meg’ as in Meg, Mog and Owl)

She’s now in the same nursery room as Maxi Minx, and is suddenly quite happy to go to nursery again.  (I’m not sure I am – she returned home on Friday with one hell of a big bruise on her vulva that the staff obviously hadn’t noticed occurring, or they’d have mentioned her falling of the play equipment.  Surely?  Thank goodness Maxi is a spot-everything tell-tale).  She’s just had yet another ear infection, and her speech went very murky for a bit.  For the first time, too, she managed to say to me, “Say it louder, Mummy: I can’t hear you!”  My heart sank, as I’d been speaking quite loudly and clearly to her, but on the other hand I was very proud at how well she can now articulate her needs.  Though right now her needs usually involve requiring a Mummy-huggle every time my hands are full or I physically can’t. 

Midi made a chocolate bird’s nest for Easter, but calls it her ‘Eagle’s Nest’.

Just as the Earth’s magnetic poles have and may (allegedly) suddenly reverse, Maxi and Midi have suddenly reversed their fear polarities.  Midi, who normally knows no fear, got scared climbing the steps to a slide.  Maxi, meanwhile, swarmed over tall cargo nets, steep ladders, fast roundabouts.  Her usual scaredy-cat wail has gone.  I asked Midi if she wanted to go on the big swing with her sister and their friend.  “Nooooo”, she replied, “It makes me bery sad.”  Eh?  Why?  “Cos it does”.  Oh.  “But this chute makes me bery, bery ‘abbeeeee!” she grinned gleefully*

*translation: she was very happy

Midi Minx is Such a Demon Because…

She can’t hear.

Well, she can hear, but not very well.  I’ve had my suspicions for a while, now.  Example: from when she learned to speak, she’s stared intently at people’s lips.  Her speech has a garbled ‘underwater’ quality to it.  Although her vocabulary is fine now, after a late start, she still misses out a lot of sounds (eg ‘ballallee’ instead of ‘vaseline’).  I’ve always had to yell to get her to listen to me (I’d stopped noticing – I assumed she was being disobedient / inattentive / too wrapped up in what she was doing, so always spoke to her face to face if I wanted something).

Mr Tumble

Midi's Hero

Anyway, last March I asked for her to be referred to a specialist to get her hearing checked.  I also wasn’t happy at her having ear infection after ear infection.  She had 8 between Christmas and August 1st last year (yep – average of 1 a month.  And she had the mass of yellow pillow gunk 4 times, which after a night of screaming in pain is pretty indicative to me of eardrum perforations).  In May I chased up the referral.  Nothing had been done.  I chased it up again in July.  It had gone to the local hospital.  Midi Minx was seen by a paediatricion in November.  He asked why we were there, as he couldn’t do hearing tests and would have to refer her to a different hospital.  And they had a long waiting list.  Gnnnnnnng!!!  I just wanted someone to look at my little girl and tell me if (a) there was anything we could do to stop her being in pain so regularly from ear infections, (b) if she should be on antibiotics with every ear infection (every 4-8 week?!), (c) were we doing something wrong?  (we stopped her swimming or putting her ears under water in the bath.  It seemed to help a bit).  We finally saw the right paediatrician on Friday.

I watched Midi get a hearing test.  A nurse held a hand-held tone-emitter behind Midi’s head.  At the ‘whistle’, she got to drop a car down a track.  My heart just about broke in 2 watching my bright, giggling little girl looking at the other nurse with a huge expectant smile on her face, waiting excitedly to hear the notes that I could hear and she couldn’t (and my hearing is duff – I spent my teens plugged into headphones set to 11, and too much loud live music and too long flying).  She can hear, but just not that well.

So the professor said she has glue ear, and to wait 3 months.  If it’s still there then, she’s to get grommets and her adenoids out.  My poor baby!  I’m dreading her having an operation, but if she needs it…

I also feel Mummy Guilt.  It explains lots.  Like why she kept running towards the road when I yelled, “Lily freeze!”  No wonder she looked so thunderstruck when I yanked her back, shouted and smacked her.  And I guess it might explain all the biting after all.  I thought she was being a little demon who’d been dragged up, rather than brought up.  Most nursery teachers said it was a phase, not to worry, but one said it could be frustration with not being able to hear or speak properly.  I guess she might have been right.  And there was me thinking Midi liked to sign (Makaton) because she loved Mr Tumble so much…