Bad Mom:

Why taking a wait-and-see approach to ear infections doesn't pay off

My son used to get ear infections all the time. He was a passenger on the nonstop allergy-snot-infection train. It seemed like he was downing that pink amoxicillin every day throughout infancy and toddlerhood. The fact that I can remember that the antibiotic was amoxicillin shows how often I had to buy the stuff because my son is now 28, and I still remember it. I even recall that a round was 10 days.

I always knew when my son wasn’t feeling well because he definitely let me know. My second child, on the other hand, was much less vocal about everything. She seemed to know that I had my hands full with her older brother.

But her placidity was the reason it took me over a week to take her to the doctor with what I thought was a virus. You rush the first kid to the pediatrician at the first sign of a runny nose. With the second, you think, “Well, maybe I’ll wait a couple of days and see if that fever goes down.” I won’t even go into what you do with the third.

When my daughter still didn’t seem well after three or four days, I took her to the pediatrician. He looked into her ear for about a tenth of a second and said, “Oh, yeah. We’ve got that ear all full of pus, Mom.” He was an ever-cheerful guy, but I never really warmed up to being called “Mom” instead of my name. At the time, I was teaching college classes and, to me, it would be like calling all of my students, “Student.” Much easier than memorizing all those names, but still…

Fast-forward about 25 years and I’m still a bad mom. Like my son, my labradoodle gets a lot of ear infections. But like my daughter, she’s not a complainer. I know she has them because she starts shaking her head, and then the oozy stuff starts coming out of her ear. Being the bad mom that I am, I take the wait-and-see approach, hoping it will clear up on its own.

These situations never end well, do they? I took my dog to the vet yesterday, guilt-ridden and embarrassed that I had let her illness go for a week or more, and sure enough, she has infections in BOTH ears. And they’re two different kinds of infections on top of that.

So, not only do I have to put medication in her ears, which she is very patient and sweet about even though she hates it, but I also have to give her a steroid. The vet said the medication will make her thirstier, which will make her pee more often. In order to avoid going home to let her out, I brought her to the office.

Fortunately, unlike a toddler, a dog will lie down on the floor and go to sleep for several hours. I’m also fortunate that both my kids and the dog are forgiving of me for being a bad mom every once in awhile. I wish I could forget and forgive myself!

Categories: Editor’s Blog