Emma’s Ears

For the last few days Emma has been complaining that her ears are popping.  I think it’s caused by changing air pressure, which she is extremely sensitive to, but maybe it’s indicative of something more, so we will take her to the pediatrician this afternoon, yet again.  Interestingly, I have noticed my own ears “popping” or more accurately the pressure in my ears.  We have had a change in the weather, something that might explain the sensations Emma is experiencing.

Last night Emma was cheerfully playing in her room and then there was silence.  I was in the living room reading.  I looked up from my book and waited.  Animated chatter followed by silence never bodes well.  So it wasn’t a surprise when I heard her whimpering and then, “I need help!  I need help!”

“What’s wrong Em?” I called.

“Ears popping, I need help!”  she cried.

“Okay, Em.  Don’t worry.  It’ll be okay,” I told her.

I tried to get her to yawn and when that didn’t work, demonstrated how to swallow, taking big exaggerated gulps of air and finally when none of those things worked, offered her a piece of gum.  “No gum!” she cried.

Taken aback and baffled, as she has never rejected the offer of gum, on the contrary, she usually requests it, I asked, “Why not?”

“No gum!” Emma sobbed.

“Okay then try to yawn again,” I suggested.

Emma grabbed her nose, clamped her mouth shut and blew until her face turned red.  This technique terrifies me as I imagine she’s blowing out her ear drums or doing untold damage, but my worries appear unjustified.

“There,” she said. “Ears all better,” with which she stood up and ran back into her room where I could hear her bouncing on the bed.

I stood in her doorway, “You okay now, Em?”

“Mommy go,” she commanded.

A few minutes later I could hear her crying, “Popping!  Ears popping!  I need help!”

And so it went last night for over an hour, back and forth, with me feeling increasingly impotent as Emma cried out in pain.

Emma holding a cold bottle of water to her ear, hoping it will alleviate the pressure

I no longer remember when we first heard about her ears bothering her, but it has certainly been within the last year or two.  We have weeks when they don’t seem to bother her and then a few weeks when they do.  Other than keeping a supply of gum on hand, it’s not clear what else we can do.  Her pediatrician checked her ears just a few weeks ago – they were fine.  We will go in again today, but my guess is they will again be fine.

Emma is sensitive to things I am unaware of.  However as I sit typing, I am hyper aware of the continuing pressure in my own ears.  But I know it will eventually go away and the discomfort isn’t so bad, so I occupy myself with work and all the things I must get done today.  Is this what Emma experiences?  Is her discomfort the same or much, much worse?  Does she feel something more extreme?  Her hypo and alternatively hypersensitivities make things I consider an annoyance, unbearable for her.

So we go to her pediatrician today, tomorrow we have an appointment with her neurologist and I will mention all of this to him as well.  Perhaps they will have some ideas.

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