I guess to really start at the beginning I need to start way back in February, after Ainsley's second surgery, when the surgeons left a piece of gauze in her nasal cavity that worked it's way down into her cleft palate and needed to be removed by a Pediatric ENT locally. At the time, there was no sign of infection and so both doctors (ENT & pediatrician) elected not to put her on an antibiotic. However, for the next few months, Ainsley would have lots of congestion, and what would appear to be recurrent sinus infections. So fast forward to the beginning of May, to her "well-child" exam when I mentioned to our pediatrician that she was still having some sinus issues, and so she decided to put Ainsley on a course of antibiotics in an effort to get whatever this was cleared up before her next surgery. And that seemed to do the trick. She didn't seem as congested, she acted like she felt better, she was happy and content and she even stopped drooling! For the first time in a year, I didn't have to even put a bib on her, much less change it 5 times a day. But the best part, she was even sleeping better, waking only once a night and taking a decent 2-3 hour nap every day. All was right with the world. Wouldn't it be great if I could end this story right now??
About a week after her last dose of antibiotic, Ainsley woke up one morning with lots of congestion, and for lack of a more pleasant word, thick, green snot all over her face. This, of course, happened to be the morning of Emily's birthday and one of the events that precipitated the "Nobody's making a big deal out of my birthday" meltdown. The other event was Jackson throwing up since 4am that morning. I was a little distracted. And just to be clear, it's not that I forgot to say "Happy Birthday" to her. I mean, I know you're probably picturing that scene in Sixteen Candles where everyone is rushing around Samantha and she's just standing there with this shocked look on her face because she can't believe no one is acknowledging her birthday. It wasn't like that at all. I said "Good Morning" and wished her a Happy Birthday when I came down to get a bowl for Jack to puke in. And for the record, Doug also wished her a Happy Birthday, and Ryan said he didn't say anything when Emily came down for breakfast because his mouth was full of oatmeal, but he did hum the Happy Birthday song. Wait a minute...what was my point? Oh, right, green snot.
Well, Ainsley was pretty miserable the whole weekend and so first thing Tuesday morning, I called our pediatrician to see what we should do, and she said she wanted to put Ainsley on another course of antibiotics and that we should make an appointment to see the ENT again, just to make sure there wasn't something else in her nasal cavity, like a stitch that never dissolved, or something that could explain why she's still having all this congestion. The earliest appointment I could get with the ENT was for Friday, which was fine. I figured that would give the antibiotic a few days to start clearing everything up so hopefully he could have a better view. I was a little concerned when she woke up with a cough on Wednesday morning but that was nothing compared to the full blown panic I felt when she woke up in the wee hours Thursday morning in respiratory distress. She was wheezing and unable to take a full breath, and so her whole body was moving every time she tried to take a breath. I imagine it is what an asthma attack would be like. So, Ainsley and I got to take our first trip to the ER in the 9 months we've lived here. Babies in respiratory distress are given high priority, so we didn't have to wait at all to be seen by a doctor. Ainsley was given a dose of prednisone and we did 2 albuterol breathing treatments, and that got her breathing almost back to normal. She was still wheezing a little, but she was much calmer and even smiling by the time we were ready to leave. They did a chest x-ray just to make sure there wasn't anything else going on, and when that came back clear, she was given a diagnosis of bronchiolitis, or a viral infection in the tiny air tubes deep in the lungs that happens to children under 3. Also, the doctor said one of her ears looked a little red, but that could just be because she had been crying.
So, we came home, got a few hours of sleep, dropped the big kids off at school and headed to our pediatrician's office. Ainsley was still a little wheezy, so the doctor decided it would be a good idea to arrange for us to have a portable nebulizer so we could give Ainsley breathing treatments at home and she also gave us a prescription for another couple of days of prednisone. I mentioned that the doctor in the ER said Ainsley's ear looked a little red and so she looked at both ears and said, "Her ears look great." (an important point for the rest of the story.)
So I headed to the ENT office with hope that we would soon know the root of all the problems Ainsley has been having. The doctor said there wasn't anything in her nasal cavity, and it didn't really even look like her sinuses cavities were infected. He did swab the inside of her nose for bacteria, but he was more concerned about her ears...and as it turns out, both of her ear tubes were blocked. In one ear, the tube is actually being pushed out and is essentially non-functioning. And she had an ear infection in the other ear. He was able to clear the blockages and clear out some of the fluid in the infected ear, but he is sure she is going to need new tubes. He wrote us a prescription for ear drops and told us to continue with the antibiotic she is already taking and hopefully this will clear up the ear infection. If she does improve, we might be able to wait until mid-August and have her tubes replaced during her next surgery, but if not, we will most likely have to have the tubes replaced before her next surgery, which means having to put her under anesthesia again.
Not to be all gloom and doom, there is an upside to all of this. At least we know what's been bothering Ainsley and we can treat it. Knowing is half the battle, right? Also, taking an oral steroid for several days has completely cleared up her eczema and now she has sweet, baby-soft skin again! Oh, and with all the prescriptions we've been filling, I have a new group of friends in the Target pharmacy. We're thinking of starting a book club. But the coolest thing of all? In the middle of all of this drama, Ainsley has decided she's ready to walk! Here she goes!