Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trains, Buses and Ear Drums

On the way to the station yesterday. Downtown on the horizon.
Historical Post Office across the street from Union Station.
Track 12; early mist, through a scratched train window.
Then my camera battery died so no good pic's of the river yet. I did manage to revive the camera long enough to get a (bad) photo of an Amish family who debarked at Fullerton during my ride home. Amish in Fullerton? Unheard of! I've never seen one in person. Their outfits were so new and pressed and perfect. And bonnets! I wanted to run out and touch their faces and smell their clothes. Then I thought, Where are they gonna catch a horse-drawn cab at this hour?

The girls and I rode the bus to Mina's doctor appointment Monday after school. We walked directly outside the school's front door to catch the #3 and 30 minutes later we were catty-corner from the medical building, without fighting for parking spots, without paying an outrageous $8 parking fee. We were going to a follow-up appointment because there had been some resurrected concerns about Mina's lymph nodes which swell more than a normal person's, apparently. We went to an ENT doctor last week. Nodes are fine, thank god, but her ears and hearing remains a persistent issue. Retractions are left on her ear drums caused by so much fluid that was collected in her ears as a baby. This is a sore, sore subject with me. It still feels fresh especially at times like these. On Monday, we went to the doctor's to have a comprehensive hearing test. In the waiting room, we sat next to little kids wearing large hearing aids that looked like beige gum stuck behind their ears, and I looked at an article printed on a folded newspaper, not reading the words. My teeth were clenched and my heart beat fast. I rubbed Mina's back, "You ready to knock this out?" "Oh yea," she said. We followed a young and stylish doctor who wore no lab coat but grey slacks, a black blouse and a red belt into a sound proof room. A deep silence closed in around us as the door shut. It was startling at first, the dense quiet, and then if felt comforting, like a blanket for the mind. Mina sat at a small table, her back faced where Maya and I sat in chairs. As the doctor inserted specialized ear pieces, my mind raced and I tried to deflect blame. No matter how far I've come as a person, it is still instinctual -- like uncontrollable mind-flashes -- to believe that I have brought this on her. This bears no logic, but tucked away still lies tiny pools of undeserving. Surely my life is too good, my luck too wide; I receive too much love and my child is paying the price. I bargained with god. Can't I lose my hearing instead? Mina sat in front of me and all I saw were tight, tiny back muscles from above her sun dress. The tip of her pony tail swung, and a white wire cascaded from each ear. Please, god, I thought.

The doctor told Mina to look at a monitor. She was going to first test the reverberation off her ear drums. We were looking for a mountain on the screen -- a spike in the line -- indicating that sound bounced off the ear drum. There might be a road, however, a flat line that meant the ear drum doesn't vibrate; that a lot of fluid lingers still. We stared at the small black monitor and out inched an illuminated green road. First for the right ear then for the left. "I wanted a mountain," Mina told the doctor. A series of hearing tests came next during which I could only look at a detailed drawing of an ear that hung next to me. I didn't look at Mina. I would only torture myself with speculation, wondering if she was pushing the button at the right times. So I looked at the chart and tried to memorize some of the ear bits. Would it be important to remember that the top part of the ear is called a helix? Does anyone give a shit? Do you sound impressive if you tell the piercing guy that you want a hoop through the scapha?

Fluid does impair Mina's hearing. Without the fluid she would hear well in the left ear. The doctor did a special test where sound goes directly to the inner ear bypassing the ear drum. The right ear is borderline normal even without the fluid, more impaired with. The doctor suggested maybe another round of antibiotics, which is only delaying the inevitable: Getting tubes placed in her ears again. Mina doesn't want that, but we gotta drain her head some how once and for all. I felt better. I don't know why. This seemed manageable now. The mystery had evaporated, as did the blame and the ludicrous notions of undeserving. And I had memorized nine parts of the ear. Though now I only remember two.


CWrites said...

I just said a prayer for Mina. Your writing is impeccable. I always enjoy reading your blog. My best to you and your family.

Rebel Girl said...


Pixielyn said...

Hugs to you and Mina!!! Nothing is more heartwrenching than having a child with ANY kind of issue. I think motherhood is only about deflecting blame, feeling gutwrenching sorror, unspeakable joy and guilt beyond penance.
You write about it all with grace. Thank you.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

my heart is with you and Mina.

Anonymous said...

You are a great mom.

Angelique said...

Amish in Fullerton??? No way!!! Where could they be going? I wish I'd been on that train...

Awww, I'm sure Mina will be fine. I had the same problem as a child, my hearing is just fine today (normal in one ear and 85% in the other, which is not bad). IMHO all of the antibiotics I took were more hamful than the the little drainage tubes--I have a difficult time curing minor infections with common antibiotics and I think this may be the root cause.

You sound like a great mom.