To say that our children bring me joy would be an understatement. They are three of our greatest gifts. Our son is 8, our oldest daughter is 7, and our youngest daughter is 3. They remind me daily how good God really is, and I have so many reasons to be happy.
This past Sunday, our son came to me during worship at church and said his right hearing aid was buzzing. I allowed him to take it off. A few minutes later, he said, “Mom, something on my head is wiggly.” I felt the right side of his head, where his BAHA implant is located, and the abutment – the visible outer portion – was notably loose on his skull. I took a deep breath, prayed with him quickly, and told him I would call the surgeon on Monday. With anxiety written all over his face, he said, “Mom, I don’t want surgery again…”
He had good reason to say that. He’s had his fair share of trips to the operating room. He’d been scheduled to have another set of ear tubes placed in February 2015. He’d had several sets of ear tubes since he was just a baby. Our skin disorder, AEC syndrome, causes chronic inflammation in the ear. When this last set of tubes had been placed surgically on his fifth birthday, the ENT had said that his ear canals were narrowing because of the inflammation. In December he’d started missing spelling words that I knew he knew how to spell, so we bumped our every six month hearing check up by over three months and saw the ENT in January. During that visit, the ENT had said the left ear tube had fallen out and the right ear tube was no longer working.
Since it was a routine procedure, we’d decided it would be best if my husband stayed home with our girls while I took our son to the hospital. When the waiting room phone rang less than twenty minutes since they wheeled our son away, my heart sank. I made my way back to the recovery room to him. The nurse smiled as I took his hand and said the doctor would be right with me. When our ENT came to the bedside, tears ran down his cheeks as he said, “I couldn’t place the tubes, Mom. His ear canals have closed in front of his ear drums. I’m going to refer you to the chair of the department. He will help you decide whether you should try to open the ear canals surgically or proceed with hearing aids, whether conventional or implanted.” Our son choked back tears and said, “I was really hoping to hear better today, but it’s okay, Doc. My Mom says that challenges like this just make us stronger.” We started praying nightly that the Lord would open his ears to hear again.
We met with the new surgeon and weighed the risks and benefits of our options. The inflammation caused by our skin disorder would just start a vicious cycle of scarring/surgery/scarring/surgery if we opened the ear canals surgically. We all agreed that it would be in our son’s best interest to proceed with implanted bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA) on both sides. The surgeon wanted to consult with other surgeons that were familiar with our syndrome that had performed the BAHA implant surgery, and we had to get the okay from our dermatologist to proceed. Then we had to wait for insurance approval. It finally came in late November 2015.
As it would happen, the only date available on the surgical calendar was our son’s eight birthday. When I hung up the phone, he cried and asked, “Why are you doing this to me? Why are you making me have surgery on my birthday again?” I could hardly hold back the tears as I hugged him and said, “I’m not doing this too you, I’m doing this for you. You said all you want for Christmas is to have your hearing back. This is how we start the process.” His BAHA implant surgery was December 7th, 2015 (not even eleven months ago).
He received his BAHA hearing processors on July 7th. We continue to pray nightly that the Lord will open his ears to hear.
On Tuesday, the surgeon was able to work us into the adult clinic before office hours to look at the BAHA abutment. As he tested the abutment with a long narrow pic, he said, “This doesn’t look good.” Immediately, our son’s face fell. He wears his heart on his sleeve and his emotion on his face, and I knew he was about to panic. I offered a silent prayer as I told him, “don’t panic yet!” Just a few minutes later, the surgeon was able to wield a incredibly tiny and incredibly expensive screw driver and tighten the loose abutment. “We’re good,” he said, and the four of us in the room breathed a sigh of relief. He asked me to place the hearing aid, so he could make sure it seated well and functioned properly. It did.
Then our son asked me to tell the surgeon “what else.” See, he’d been saying for a few weeks that he felt like his right ear was opening. I told him we would tell the doctor when we saw him again. So, I explained to the surgeon that we pray nightly that the Lord would open the ear canals and restore his hearing, and that he feels like his right ear is “opening up.” The surgeon said, “Well, I’ve never heard of it happening, but I suppose it could. You’re here, so I may as well have a look.” He looked in our son’s ear and declared, “Mom, he has a large piece of wax in this ear.” Immediately the wheels in my head start turning. Ear wax cannot drain from a closed ear canal. The surgeon said, “I’m going to see if I can remove it.” After a few minutes, and quite a bit of effort because the offending wax was stuck, he pulled a plug of wax that was over half an inch long from our son’s ear. He swung the microscope around and peered into the ear. “Mom, I see ear drum,” he said. Tears sprung to my eyes as I asked, “Can I see?” He scooted away and directed me where to look. I saw it, too.
He asked, “How do you feel after I took that out of your ear?”
Our son said, “I think my ear is open. I think I can hear out of it.” The surgeon looked at me, and looked at him, and said, “Well, take off your hearing aid, and let’s see.” So, off it came. And then our son said, “I think I hear out of that ear just as good without the hearing aid as I do with it.” The surgeon shook his head in bewilderment and said, “Leave it to ear wax to do what the doctors couldn’t.”
No, sir, leave it to God to do what man could not do.
The surgeon also checked the left ear, and the ear canal remains closed. He scheduled us to return to clinic to recheck the ear and to do a hearing test with and without the BAHA hearing aid on the right side. Our son said he’s going to keep praying that the Lord will open his left ear, too, because he “likes for things to be even on his head.”
On the way home, I asked him what he was thinking. He said, “Mom, I thought when God opened my ears and I could hear again, I would want to have the abutments taken off. I know the posts have to stay in the skull, but I thought I’d want the part that can be seen taken off. But, I think that I want them to stay. That way, when people see them, they’ll ask about them, and I can say that I used to need hearing aids but now I don’t because God healed me.”
Cue the tears that started in the pit of my stomach and made their way down my face. That. From our 8 year old. The faith of this child!
Our children teach us about the Lord and His unmerited favor daily.
“The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.” Isaiah 50:4-5
Pray with us that they left ear will supernaturally be opened, as well?