2012 was a year full of adventure. We went on our first big camping trip as a family. We headed out west … Waterton and Fernie. It was full of fun and excitement and yes, allergies. Mr. O had started off Spring 2012 with severe allergies. I chalked them up to the snow mould. That winter we had had a lot of snow and when it all started to melt, well, Mr. O had a major problem with it. The boy was congested all the time, runny nose and a chronic cough. So, I broke out the Claritin that Spring and it never did seem to be too far away from us. I had to give it to him everyday just so he could deal with himself. I should have bought stocks in Children’s Claritin that Spring … I would be in a different place right now! So, when we decided to head West … into the mountains … we didn’t think twice about his allergies. But, we soon found out that a dark, wet forest isn’t a nice spot for a four year old boy to hang out. He had a tough time out there, but he made the best of it and so did we. Along with all the coughing and the runny nose, came Mr. Grumpy Bear. I don’t blame him, but boy, always having a boy who’s not in the best mood, isn’t easy to deal with when you’re all crammed into a small pop up trailer! But, like I said, we dealt with it. So, after our arrival home to good ol’ dry Saskatchewan, I thought he would get better. Well, he didn’t. His allergy symptoms stuck around until late fall. And, so did Mr. Grumpy Bear. In September, I took him for a hearing test. I had noticed in early Spring that he couldn’t hear very well some days, but I had just chalked it up to allergies. But, by the time September rolled around, I thought it was something more. I was surprised to hear that day, shortly after his 4th birthday, that he had severe unilateral hearing loss. They couldn’t explain it to me, but the audiologist told me that he was concerned. I was devastated … I think I went through all the stages of grief that day … It seems silly now when I look back on it, but still, when you’re told that you’re son has severe hearing loss and they don’t know what’s causing it, you tend to freak out a little. Hubby was also in the same boat. I called my naturopath and I waited to see an ENT regarding this “hearing loss”. I was surprised at how quickly we got in to see the ENT. He had another hearing test done and it was still the same. By this time it was November. This ENT was not on my list of Jenny’s Top 100 Favourite People … you see his reputation precedes him and I knew from talking to other people, that his god- like complex would fill the room. Anyway, that day I was told that Oliver’s hearing loss was “no big deal. Fit him with hearing aides and come back when he’s 15. I’ll fix him them. He’s got a bone out of place in his ear.” I didn’t like the attitude and I didn’t like him. I left the office feeling angry and I still had this feeling in my gut that there was something more to his hearing loss. I needed to understand why this had happened, and what could I do to prevent the hearing in the other ear from going as well. I knew that Mr. O wasn’t born with hearing loss, even though this is what the ENT told me. That I had just missed it until now. No. No. No. I know both my kids to a T and I knew that I didn’t miss this hearing loss for 4 years. I knew it. So, I went home and called my GP. I told her I wanted to see a different ENT for a second opinion. And, I waited to see the naturopath, my angel.
When I went in to see the naturopath, we went over all aspects of Mr. O’s diet. By then, we were doing a strict Paleo diet with him to see if it would clear up some of his longstanding gut issues. She was very helpful and although she didn’t know what was going on in Oliver’s ears, we made a plan to try and figure things out. She spoke with a top audiologist who specializes in paediatric audiology and came back to me with her findings. Talk about going out of your way for a patient. I knew that she genuinely cared for his well being and health and by this time in our doctor – patient relationship … I trusted her. Along with some of Mr. O’s gut problems, she suggested that he might have a problem digesting some foods high in Phenols. I was told to cut out foods high in Phenols to see if that would make a difference to his overall health, and possibly his hearing. I also started him on a digestive enzyme to help his gut break down the Phenols he was ingesting. That did not go over well. He was terribly sick with the enzymes … so much so that I considered taking him to the ER. But, I made a quick phone call to the naturopath and that plan of attack was abandoned. So, we continued to limit high Phenol foods, especially grapes. I knew that when he had grapes, it didn’t matter time of day, or how many he would consume, he would go a little “loopy” and I could count on him wetting the bed at night. (He had been potty trained since 22 months and wetting the bed at 4 years old was very embarrassing for the poor boy.) So, once I stopped the grapes, he no longer wet the bed. Amazing. And, still, I waited for the second opinion from ENT #2.
I saw ENT #2 and wow what a difference. I had got his name from a coworker who had seen him and she loved him. He was immediately concerned with Mr. O’s hearing loss. He told me that this type of hearing loss in a 4 year old boy was very unusual and he was very concerned. His most recent hearing test at that time still showed the same level of hearing loss (almost 80 decibels at some frequencies). Mr. O was sent for an MRI immediately. Oh yes, I did forget to mention that ENT #2 said most definitely his hearing loss was not from a bone being out of place, like ENT #1 had suggested.
Shortly after this visit I had another appointment with the naturopath. This time she encouraged me again to look into water issues in our home. WHAT? She had suggested this on other occasions, but I always dismissed that idea. Our home was built in 1981 and we had lived there for almost 6 years and we had never had a problem with water of any sort. I took what she said home and talked to the hubby. We both decided that it was worth a shot and so we called an air quality inspector who was referred to us. He came into the house at the end of May and we were both shocked. He told us that our shower downstairs had been leaking under the tiles and that we most definitely had a significant amount of mold behind the walls. WHAT? WHAT? We both couldn’t believe it, but we both knew that we had to investigate this mold problem further. He took air samples that day from upstairs and downstairs. And, in the mean time we were told to close the door to the basement bathroom and not let the kids go in. SCARY! I was afraid to be in the house! But, we waited. Our results came in and yes, there was mold. We hired a remediation company to come in and remove the mold … (that’s a story for another day!)
In the midst of all of this Mr. O had his MRI of his head. I had to wait 10 days to hear the news that he had been cleared of any brain tumours or any congenital conditions … meaning he wasn’t born with this hearing loss. And, so we were back to square one with his hearing loss. Don’t get me wrong, being back at square one was a blessing for us, but I still didn’t have any answers. So, our next feat was to tackle this mold problem to see if Mr. O’s hearing loss would clear up with the mould removal ….