Gromet insertion is a very common and minor procedure, even though it requires a general anaesthetic. I want to explain it (the procedure and the whole day) in detail as out of our 8 NCT 4 year olds, 4 are currently experiencing hearing problems in the form of glue ear and some of them ear infections. A fifth was already crossed off the list for gromets last year. It's quite a high proportion! Elf is the first to have the procedure, and I want the mummies of the other two that I know are on the waiting list to know what it was like. One of the mummies said Elf was a pioneer!
It wasn't all plain sailing. The day was a calamity really. Here's how it went:
6.10am - Mummy and Daddy get up, get ready and at ...
6.30am - ... we wake up Elf, get him dressed, try not to mention the fact that he can't eat any breakfast (he's usually like me, terminably grumpy if he doesn't get fed and watered)
6.55am - Set off for the hospital
7.20am - Arrive at the correct wing and park in the correct carpark as advised by the patient coordinator
7.25am - Get told by the receptionist at the Starfish ward that we can't enter by these doors, for security reasons, we have to walk up to the other end of the hospital
7.28am - Ask the main reception where to go as we got lost!
7.30am - Arrive at the Starfish ward!
7.50am - Miss D, our consultant arrives, to find us in the corridor (along with other parents I must add) waiting for Elf to be weighed and to have the anaesthetic cream applied to his hands
7.55am - Miss D, a formidable looking doctor who looks like she is always obeyed, by staff, patients and parents, demands that our nurse finds room for Elf as his op can't be moved.
8.00am - We actually see parents and their son turfed out of a room to make way for us! It was awful and I said as much to the nurse. She had mentioned that there were 8 other children who didn't have beds. One of my friends, Woody's mummy, was a bed manager in the NHS at one point and it does seem like an extremely stressful position. We are lucky enough to have gone privately, one benefit of working for a huge multi-national, which is why we were booked in so quickly. It almost goes against my leftie principles, but when your child's health (hearing) is at risk of deterioration, you can forget these principles. We were supposed to get a private room, but the rooms of 4 beds were much more friendly and we're glad we weren't on our own.
8.05am - We now see the anaesthetist in the corridor! He chuckles that "Things are as organised as usual".
8.30am - We are taken up to theatre by a lovely nurse who had only started the week before and got lost! I think we were a bit late arriving...
9.00am - Daddy went through to theatre with Elf for his anaesthetic. I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't want to see that. I've been remarkably OK (for me) about this, after the initial shock of being booked in so quickly after being sure that his hearing was fine. But I really didn't want to see him be put to sleep. They couldn't find a vein, so they used the mask. Fortunately Elf is used to having a spacer for his occasional blue inhaler, so this didn't freak him out.
9.10am - Mummy and Daddy decide to visit Costa (in the hospital!) for their own breakfast - carrot cake and tea for me. We know he's going to be about an hour, and that we will be called to walk down with him from the recovery room, as soon as he's woken up.
9.45am - We walk back to Starfish ward and - oops - he's already on his way to be picked up! He arrives back into his room on his bed looking all folorn on his own. We feel really bad. He didn't expect us to be there, so at least he didn't know we felt guilty.
9.50am - He's a bit teary and tired. A bit snotty. He picks at his ears saying "Take it out". He starts unpacking his new Star Wars lego (it's a land racer if you really want to know).
10.20am - He's been crying saying one ear hurts, so he is given some medicine.
10.30am - He perks up and is playing, drinking water and then having some snacks.
11.30am - He is allowed to go and play in the playroom, and we are told to expect to leave at midday.
12.00pm - We are discharged, and this is most disappointing, just as lunch is being served! I am so annoyed we missed out.
We are told the following:
- no getting his ears wet in the bath; use cotton wool with vaseline on (we can continue to use our ear plugs) - think this is for about a month
- no swimming for 6 weeks - then only without putting his head underwater because of the pressure
- he may get discharge on his pillow, which means the gromets are doing their job
- they will probably drop out without us seeing them
- he can't blow his nose too much as he's had his nose cauterised too (this is because he has an internal cleft pallet, which procludes removal of his adenoids, and adenoidectomy is what normally accompanies grommet insertion to maximise the grommets' effects. If Elf's adenoids are removed, he will have no gap between his nose and his mouth! Cauterisation of the nose does help maximise the grommets' effect to some extent.)
- His right ear was full of sticky glue, and will take a while to clear whereas the left ear's glue was thin and the surgeon was able to suck out most of it (when she said suck, I hope she didn't mean that literally!) so his hearing in his left ear will be better almost immediately.
Apologies for the long long article but, as mentioned above, 4 out of our 8 NCT group have had hearing problems and I know 2 of the others are on the waiting list for gromets so I wanted to give a clear picture of the whole procedure.
Last word - whilst I have some issues with smoking outside the hospital entrance, car parking and bed allocation (future blog rant?), the nursing staff, our consultant and anaethetist, were all great. Thank you Starfish ward, Nurses Sally and Christine, Miss D and Dr N.