Hi all,

This is a quick unscheduled blog to update you all on my little procedure this morning.

From the title, Wallace and Gromit, the names of two characters created by Nick Park of Aardman Productions, it is evident that this morning’s procedure involved grommets! However, unlike the wonderful antics of Wallace and Gromit, which generally involve Wallace inventing some type of creature comforting gadget that inevitably fails, while Gromit, being a typically faithful dog, looks on wondering ‘why me’, as even he, being a dog, knows the invention will fail, malfunction with disastrous consequences, or even explode, sometimes resulting in bunnies floating down from the sky like rain!

But enough about Wallace and Gromit, and back to my grommets! It felt like we were going on holiday this morning (or so I was told) as we left the house while it was still dark, and the birds were just beginning to wake up to call to each other. After a short journey we arrived at Morningside Medi Clinic, as place I know all to well, having spent the first 5 months of my life there. Announcing ourselves at the pre-admission counter I knew there was something underway for me, at which Mom and Dad took turns explaining the procedure to me, by starting off with a quick diagnosis. Basically I’ve been struggling with my ears for a while now, as most of you would have seen from my prior blogs. Some time ago I went onto a course of antibiotics to address this, to no avail. Effectively what is happening is that the fluid behind my ear is not draining naturally. There are a couple of reasons for this, some being biomechanical and others being as a result of infections. On the biomechanical front, Mom and Dad explained that baby’s Eustachian tubes are horizontal at birth, and as the baby grows older, it becomes vertical, as it is in adults. As a result of this, the Eustachian tube could kink, blocking it, or the nerves around it could get pinched, thereby causing a contraction.

Alternatively, it can be caused by infection, which is sometimes called ‘glue ear’. Our ears naturally have mucous in them, as a lubricant, as there are a handful of moving parts in there that we don’t want worn out. Like any ‘well oiled machine’ the oil (mucous in this case), needs to be changed regularly (i.e. drain in the case of the mucous in the ear). However, if there is an infection present, the mucous thickens (hence being called ‘glue ear’), and as a result it can’t drain. If it is not able to drain, it becomes more susceptible to infection, and a vicious cycle commences. A further concern that this creates is that the eardrum thickens, which can result in impaired hearing, either immediately or later in life. We still need to figure out if this can be reversed.

To overcome this, I underwent a Myringotomy this morning, which in simple English means that a tiny incision is made in the eardrum to drain the fluid. Once the Myringotomy has been done, a small grommet (tympanostomy tube), smaller than a match head, is inserted in the incision, allowing the continual draining of fluid from the ears. The grommet basically fulfils the role of a valve, letting the mucous drain from the ear continually. Eventually, after a period of time, the grommets simply fall out and the eardrum closes again. This can be months, or even years.

We hung around the paediatrics ward while we waited for to be prepped for theatre. While waiting, I opted to start playing with my wooden blocks; on the way home from work the day before, Dad, on my instructions, picked up a bunch of flowers for Mom, and a bag of blocks for me. I recently developed this desire to play with natural wooden toys, hence the wooden blocks. Sitting in the hospital cot I surrounded myself with the colourful cubes, oblongs and triangles. Before long I was merrily bashing them together and having a whale of a time, predominantly to keep my mind off what lay ahead for me in the next few hours. Gravity got involved, which was a really awesome game with my Dad as I had him scurrying around the ward finding and picking up my blocks. All too soon this fun ended and the medical staff arrived in order to prepare me for theatre.

After being prepared for surgery, which involved being weighed (I’m now 8.25kgs), and Dad filling in heaps of forms, and all of us meeting with the anaesthetist and surgeon prior, I was wheeled down to theatre. I bid the worried and concerned faces of my Mommy and Daddy farewell, and told them all would go really well. I was wheeled into theatre by Dr Rex, my anaesthetist, and after my vitals were checked I noticed Dr Rex approach me with a face mask from which a number of tubes dangled. In order to do the procedure, I needed to undergo general anaesthetic, which was cause for concern for my Mom and Dad, as some of my prior experiences with anaesthetic where not too good. It turned out this mask was the anaesthetic, and after it was clamped over my face I remember nothing more!

Some time later I woke up, and immediately let out a huge cry to announce my discomfort and the fact that I’d not eaten in about 12 hours. This was Mom’s cue to rush into the recovery area of the theatre where she bundled me up into her arms and immediately gave me something to eat. I was surprised by the fact that my Mom was there, as non-medical personnel weren’t permitted in here, let alone parents. But I guess after all that we’ve been through they tolerated my Mom’s forceful insistence at storming into the recovery room! After the initial shock of coming out of anaesthetic was over, I realised that Dr Nicolleta was also there. As always it was really great to see her. Today, though, she wasn’t there for me, as Dr Keith Davidge-Pitts did my procedure. Instead she was there to deliver a baby. After chatting to Mom for a while she asked where Dad was, as she knew we always did these things together. Literally on cue Dad’s head popped through the doors to check if everything was ok.

Eventually the porters arrived to take me back to the ward, although Mom did carry me all the way. I guess it is the correct protocol that they accompany us to the ward and officially hand me back over to the ward. Back in the ward everything seemed a blur, so apologies for not giving a detailed account. All I know is that over the next few hours my life was filled with discomfort resulting in my screaming to the point that I had tears coming out my eyes (which seldom happens), and Mom holding me, then Dad holding me, then being fed a little, then given some Rehidrate, and then snoozing a little only to wake up and doing all the aforementioned things again!

Fortunately I settled down, and after my vital statistics were checked it was deemed that I could be discharged. Yippee, I was so excited. Little did I recall that discharge from a hospital can be an hour long exercise; so after Dad signed some more forms (apparently hospitals are big on disclosures, indemnities and the like), ordering my take home meds, gathering up all my belongings (actually my Mom and Dad’s belongs, as they had enough bags and equipment with them to camp there for a week), it was finally time to ‘check-out’! We did this gleefully, and since I was doing quite well now, Mom and Dad opted to stop for a meal. Apparently they hadn’t eaten all day, and having been starved myself I knew how that felt, so I took sympathy on them and agreed that lunch was a good idea.

Back home another snooze was in order; and as I drifted to sleep, I realised, for the first time in weeks, that the sound of my heartbeat didn’t echo through my head and that the constant whooshing sound that had been in my ears for so long was now gone. As I eyes closed I thought about Vincent van Gogh and was able to empathise with him cutting off his ear as a result of constantly hearing whooshing and sirens going off in his head. If only he could have had grommets, but then, perhaps, we wouldn’t have had ‘Starry Starry Nights’!!!



Figure 1 Here are Wallace and Gromit

Figure 2 Sketch of the ear – with a grommet in place (Images © Copyright EMIS and PIP 2005)

Figure 3 This is a grommet, also called a tympanostomy tube, which can be made from silicone, plastic or Teflon

Figure 4 Waiting in reception for admissions

Figure 5 A snooze-in-waiting

Figure 6 A close-up of me snoozing

Figure 7 Feeling very drowsy after surgery

Figure 8 Barely able to open my eyes as I wait for the anaesthetic to wear off

Figure 9 Feeling a little more lucid

4 Comments on Wallace and Gromit

  1. Gillian Lederer says:

    Hi there Sweetheart

    So they got you again did they – nasty people them doctors 🙂 But I am sure it is going to make your ears feel so much better. You are turning into quite a handsome little fellow.

    Love Always
    Oliver, Gillian and the cousins

  2. Claire says:

    Hey there, J-Bird. I hope you are feeling lots better today. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon and we can have a discussion about the impact of the grommets.

  3. Lisle says:

    Van Gogh never had your courage…….

  4. Claudi says:

    Hi there,

    You are a brave, brave boy. I am sure it helps to have such dedicated parents. And what an interesting theory about Van Gogh and Starry Starry night…

    Love Claudi 🙂

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