A Pain in the Ear

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings, The Sick

Remember two weeks ago when I was sequestered in the house for five days straight wearing perma-pajamas (I pretend to be really annoyed about this, but secretly, this was the best thing ever) while I slaved over pee bags and snot suckers? Well, Madelyn’s fevers never went away and the nose juice was getting juicier. Pulpy even. And she was eating weird. And really, let’s be honest, she was acting like a biatch. This is not typical Madelyn behavior because normally, she is the sweetest kid in the world. But EVERYTHING was pissing her off. I guess I couldn’t blame her. If I didn’t know how to blow my nose and I had a faucet of liquid germs emerging from it, I’d be really irate as well.

But this fussiness turned into spur-the-moment temper tantrums without any kind of trigger! She was going all out — incessant screaming, head banging on the floor, total attitude to mom and dad (sneak peak of her teenage years! Score!). Madelyn was not a happer camper. No kumbayah in our house.

So after a week of sickness, back to the doctor she went.

Of course, when we walked in wearing real clothes for the first time in a week (this development went for both of us), she perked up and acted real chipper. Maybe she was stoked to finally get out of the house and see some other humans other than her old lady. Maybe she was just grateful that I put on mascara and ran a brush through my hair.

We had to go through the sick door to sit in the contaminated side of the waiting room. I feel like there should be a scarlet “S” for SICK branded on our foreheads anytime we have to enter on that side. It’s so embarrassing. And you know the moms on the other side of the waiting room are thinking, “Gosh, glad we’re not in THEIR shoes!” or “That mom didn’t wash her kid’s hands enough!” Banished to the sick side. That’s how we rolled. And yet, when we’re on the healthy side, visiting for well-child check ups, we’re so glad to be separated from THOSE people. It’s a cruel world.


Madelyn excitedly entered the waiting room and checked in at the desk. Then she wanted to explore the toys and books. Part of me was thinking, “Ho hum. She’s already sick. She may as well entertain herself,” and the other part of me was like, “Oh HAAAAAAIL no, you’re not catching a new germ from touching the infected doctor’s office toys!” The neurotic Jewish mother version of me won, and I enticed Madelyn to sit in a chair, isolated from the toys on the shelves that may as well be petrie dishes.




We got called back to the room where we did more waiting. To distract Madelyn, we did a butcher paper photo shoot on the exam table. She hammed it up, making me think she was faker for the previous days that she acted miserable.




The pediatrician came in and we love her! She did a thorough exam on Madelyn, looked in her ears, and, Eureka! There it was! The right side was clear, but the left ear was positive for infection! She said it looked pretty red and gnarly and that was definitely the cause of Madelyn’s un-Madelyn like everything (small appetite, irritable temperament, bad sleep).

She prescribed 10 days on an antibiotic and we immediately trekked to the pharmacy to start the drugs.


Thankfully, the liquid antibiotics was flavored with something delicious — strawberry milkshake? — and Madelyn gulped it down each time during the entire course. We noticed she was back to her usual self within two days and I am so thankful we caught the ear infection, but so sad it had gone so long.

The week before, when we were in for Madelyn’s initial check, her ears were clear. Obviously the infection began brewing during that time. She never tugged at her ear or touched them in pain, and since she’s still speaking Madelynese, I don’t understand her language. I had no way to know that her ears were the culprit. My poor baby! Oh, Mama Guilt, you are mean.

I’m happy to report that the illness is behind us and so far — KNOCK ON EVERYTHING — Bryan and I have remained healthy during this season of ick. And there goes Madelyn’s first ear infection milestone. It only took 17.5 months. Not bad for a formula fed baby, eh?