I wanted a Mini-Me. That plus the desire to have someone take care of me in my twilight years were my two primary reasons for procreation. (I know, selfish…) I passed on quite a few genes to the Worm, but surprisingly (only to myself) he got some not-so-good ones.


The Worm’s allergies have been pretty bad from about the age of 2. He’s 4 now and I can’t remember a day where he didn’t sound stuffed up.

The constant congestion means that Worm’s immune system is reacting or possibly overreacting to stimuli, possibly stemming from his environment or diet. (Or both.) He hasn’t been allergy tested yet, but it’s on one of the multiple lists of things we have to do in the near future.

I think food plays a part in allergies and immune system function, so we’ve made Worm’s diet fairly clean. We eat mostly organic, moderate dairy intake, lean towards low sugar foods and hormone free meats. We keep an eye on artificially sweetened and dyed foods as well. We aren’t rigid about it, but we do the best we can. (Sometimes the gift of a sweet treat can quell screaming, whining and crying…and I’m guilty of contributing to the kids’ sugar intake to feel that small pinch of sanity and quietude.)

Sinus congestion doesn’t always equal fluid in the ears and otitis media, the inflammation usually accompanying it. But, the adenoids (not the same as tonsils) can be swollen so much from allergies that they block off the Eustachian tubes. Then, when the child gets sick and snot gets pushed up the tube into the ears, the fluid may not drain back down. I can’t imagine walking around with liquid in my ears, but Worm had been doing it so long that it’s normal for him.

The downside of fluid in the ears is temporary hearing loss. (This is different from the similarly named teenage ear disease, selective hearing loss.) Worm couldn’t hear me whispering in his ear, and the TV always needed to be on full blast. It was quite bad as for months, he not once flinched at my storytellings of boogeymen chewing children’s toes off at night while they slept. (On the plus side, I could tell him the same bedtime story over and over again without him knowing…) He could barely hear me speaking at a normal “inside” voice. I must say, though, that Wormie was adapting well and getting good at reading lips, an important skill for spies and double agents.

We visited the doctor a couple times, tried allergy meds and an oral antihistamine that did not improve his lot. The last resort was surgery. The doctors suggested adding ear tubes and also removing the adenoids. Not wanting to be so aggressive right off the bat, we figured to try the ear tubes first. It would buy us about a year or so before the tubes would fall out on their own and make a nice pair of waxy Tic-tacs for some lucky cat’s mouth.

Worm, I promise that is a helmet!

Worm, I promise that is a helmet!

Ear tubes are a comparatively easy job next to quadruple heart bypass surgery. Step 1. Apply bubble-gum flavored general anesthesia. Step 2. Slit eardrum. Vacuum out fluid. Step 3. Slide in tubes. Step 4. Repeat for other ear. Step 5. Wheel Worm to the recovery room. It sounded easy in my head for the weeks leading up to the surgery. But as we got closer, I was losing my cool…

To me, nothing really is ever easy, until it’s finished. I started overthinking: What if Worm is allergic to anesthesia? What if he doesn’t wake up? What if the doctor didn’t have enough coffee that morning? What if under the fluid, there’s irreparable damage? Will Worm be able to hear us? What if the doctors get the wrong paperwork and accidentally remove his adenoids? Or a leg? Should I ask the doctor for his credentials? I didn’t run a background check on anyone at the hospital! What if the recovery room popsicles cause Worm to go into shock! Has anyone done a study on this? Maybe I should learn how to do the surgery myself! I’m pretty good with my hands…

We survived! The entire experience was much more traumatic for me than it was for Worm, who strangely enough, was giddy with excitement for surgery day. Does Worm have Munchausen syndrome? What if he starts making up diseases for himself so he can have doctors fix him? Is he a budding hypochondriac? When should I start worrying? Let me search the internet for clues…

In the short time we spent at the hospital, I got to see what looked like to me, children (and parents) facing much more difficulty than what our family was going through. I was eating lunch and witnessed another family crying and consoling one another. I shoved my face deep into my cheeseburger to keep from being overwhelmed by the emotion of what they could possibly be dealing with. A hospital can be a tough place. No, it IS a tough place.

I would have done anything to switch places with Worm just so he wouldn’t have had to have surgery. He’s my son and, understandably, I don’t want anything bad to ever happen to him. I want to be there for him and protect him from as much as humanly possible. But I couldn’t do anything about the situation and I felt quite helpless. That afternoon, my little Worm rode the plasma car into the operating room. I learned what it’s like to love a child so strongly that you’re willing to give yourself in exchange for it. It was apparent.

I am a parent.

Well, Worm, sort of...

Well, Worm, sort of…



Gavin – 39; Honeydaddy – 22 (You held up better than I did, Worm. Kudos to your courage! And you can hear me now!)