Deana, my friend with 2-year old twins, briefly considering asking the ER staff for a punch card ("10th visit free!") after all of the trips she had in January with her boys.
It's insane. But sadly, it comes with the territory.
EarGate 2012, like most -Gates, started out like any other Thursday. We went to music lessons. We came home. I took Scotty's shoes off. As I removed one shoe, a tiny pebble rolled out. "Rock!' Scotty proclaimed happily. He picked up the little object and ran to put in in the bed of one of his trucks.
This is an everyday situation in our house - the rocks, that is. Scotty is a little dirt magnet and adores playing in dirt. It must be that Y chromosome or something, but he spends hours in the backyard in the flower beds, gently scooping piles of dirt into his cars, and then carefully transporting it to the other side of the yard. He's working on some kind of project, but I have no idea what it is. We have huge holes in our beds, but I'm not bothered. The kid is amused, he's playing quietly by himself, which means Mommy can lounge outside with the iPad and a cup of coffee. Win-win.
So yesterday Scotty scampered off with his new treasure and I went to the closet to put his shoes away. When I came back, I didn't see the rock. And he was holding his earlobe.
"Rock ear, Momb!" he declared.
"What?" I asked, peering in closer.
"Rock EAR!" he shouted.
I frowned. Now what? I didn't want to suggest to him that the rock could go in his ear, or now I'm giving him ideas. But what if he did put the rock in his ear? Then what?
"Scotty," I started slowly. "Did you put the rock in your ear?"
He grinned at me. "Yes," he stated emphatically.
Okay, let's try that again. "Scott, Mommy needs to know if you put the teeny-tiny rock in your ear. Did you, sweetie? Did you put the rock in your ear?"
He looked at me again with confusion. "Yes," he stated firmly, and then made a beeline out of the room. I think he was sick of me asking redundant questions.
And so, just like in any condundrum in Motherhood, I was left with, "Now what?" I really, really didn't want to take action. I was tired. My legs hurt from boot camp. I didn't want to call Dr. Awesome, who has only been lukewarm lately (in my opinion) and schedule an appointment so we could sit in her germy waiting room and catch our 400th cold of the season. But I also couldn't leave my kid with a rock in his ear - what would that affect? Hearing? Brain development? Possible infection? Is this an emergency situation? Could it wait until after nap time? What are my options?
First, I assessed the boy. He did not appear to be in any obvious discomfort. He was hearing and responding to me just fine. When I put lunch on the table, he ate like a mountain man. (growth spurt). When I shined the flashlight in his ear as he chomped away, I didn't see anything, but then again, he has tiny, tiny ears. I actually brought a pair of tweezers down from the bathroom and thought about going in, all "Operation"-style until my brain kicked and I realized - oh yeah, this isn't a game, no buzzer will go off, and I will likely do more harm than good.
So as I sat there, watching him mow through his strawberries and yogurt, it hit me: call a friend. Better than that - call a friend who is an audiologist.
You all might remember Courtney, mom to Carson and Sam (Scotty's on-again, off-again girlfriend). Aside from understanding the unique challenges of Toddlerville, she is like an ear expert.
One quick phone call and we had a plan. She was going to look for her otoscope at home and then make a house call. If she couldn't find it, she would send me to her co-worker later that afternoon. Worst case scenario, we could drive to the hospital she works at and she could use the equipment there to determine if indeed, there was a rock in my kid's ear. If there was, an ENT was available to remove it immediately, and we have successfully resolved the situation. Game over. Winner: Momb.
And in the end, that what we ended up doing. All of this, mind you, was to avoid Dr. Awesome and her waiting room of disease. And the giant co-pay. I'm not sure what's going on with our insurance, but we came out of pocket close to $600 in the month of December in co-pays alone. We just received a $511 bill for the stomach bug that sent us to the ER last summer, and quite frankly, I'm concerned about health care in this country. I would prefer to not spend every dollar we have on co-pays and outrageous deductibles, so yes, I'm very happy to have an audiologist friend.
Courtney saw us right away this morning and within a few minutes, she declared that there was no rock in his right ear. We looked at each other for a second, and then said simultaneously, "Let's check the other ear, too." (Ahh, Motherhood. Never assume anything.) That ear, too, was clear and EarGate 2012 officially ended 23 hours after it started. Total cost to us: $0.
Courtney and I did what any good friends do in this situation: we turned it into a photo shoot. So with Scotty still in the bomb-shelter hearing cage, we took pictures of each other and the Bear doing various audiology-related poses.
It's good to have friends in high places.
And while Scotty doesn't have any rocks in his head, I'm happy to report that Courtney doesn't either. He checked.