Last week, Sydney came down with a terrible ear ache. Tuesday morning she woke up in pain and was uncomfortable all day. I thought about taking her in to the doctor, but I had a feeling it wasn't an infection but instead related to her cold. I try to avoid going the route of antibiotics if possible.
Wednesday her other ear hurt, and we worked through it with Tylenol, ear drops, and a clove of garlic taped to her ear.
By Thursday morning her ears didn't hurt anymore.
We were all relieved, until I realized that even though her ears don't hurt, there must be a fair amount of fluid in them because she's lost about 50% of her hearing. I'm told it's normal, and that I shouldn't worry. I'm not exactly worried because I have no reason to believe that it's anything other than fluid in her ears. She never had a fever; she's not talking louder than she usually does; she admits that her ears feel "full." Nevertheless, we have a doctor's appointment set up.
If I'm standing behind her, using my "inside voice," she can't hear me. If she calls to me from the other side of the house, I have to go to her because she can't hear me answer back.
She can't hear the audiobooks in the car. She can't hear the ticking of the clock. She almost always doesn't hear me the first time I say something.
She turns up the volume on the tv so loudly that Jules complains. "Too loud!" Jules yells. "What?" says Sydney. "TOO LOUD!" repeats Jules.
I'm trying to be patient, but it's frustrating. No doubt it's frustrating to Sydney too. If she sees my lips moving, she walks closer, squinting hard in concentration. If I'm sitting next to her, she'll lean her ear right into my mouth. I could resolve some of the issues by talking louder the first time, but believe it or not, maintaining loud conversations all the time is kind of exhausting. Add into that my uncertainty of when Sydney is ignoring me--which she does sometimes--and when she's honestly not hearing me, and it makes for long days.
So it's been a weary week...hearing "what?" after everything, repeating almost everything, yelling instructions in a volume that I normally reserve for matters of urgency. Just like listening to quiet music and talking in soothing tones helps you feel peaceful, doing the reverse makes you feel anxious. I realized tonight that it's created in me a kind of fake irritation. I'm not really angry, but my brain translates all the above volume talking into tension.
Fortunately, Sydney doesn't really mind the extra quiet that has crept into her world. She plays fine on her own, chattering happily to herself. But it's hard for me. Not just the talking louder, but the silence from being selective about what I say to her.
"We're going to be late," I told her one afternoon as we were headed out the door.
"It's eight?" she asked.
"We're late," I repeated a little louder.
"What?" she asks again.
I wave my hand, and shake my head. We give up that conversation. We've given up a lot of conversations.
The extra noise is certainly an irritation, but it's the silence between Sydney and me that makes all of this the hardest of all.