I wrote about Anna's experience with a condition called Choanal Atresia in a few posts. From giving up dairy, to trusting my instinct, and finally through Anna's surgery to correct the problem. It all seems like a distant nightmare. I can't believe she lived through 5 months of not being able to truly breathe, but you would never know it now.
I wrote about her condition in detail because, somewhere in the deep recesses of mind, I wished that some day, another mother who was searching for answers would reach out to me and I could help her. Not that I would wish that condition on any child, but since I know it exists, and I know that Google provided me NO relief or answers, I wanted to put our story out there so, in the off chance someone else was experiencing this level of anxiety.
Well, it happened.
About a month ago, a woman named Sally* reached out to me via email to tell the story of her son who was experiencing the same struggles as Anna. She pushed her doctor, and her 2-month old was diagnosed choanal atresia, but they said they wanted to wait until he was 3 or 4 to have the surgery. She, like me, was at her wit's end and was desperate for answers. Immediately I was catupulted back to last summer, when Anna's pediatrician assured me that she was "fine."
No. No she wasn't fine. Not being able to breathe is NOT FINE.
And because I knew exactly what Sally was experiencing and I had made it to the other side, I decided not to beat around the bush. I wasn't doing her or her son any favors by not being completely honest. Here is part of the email I sent back:
"My advice is ABSOLUTELY go get a second opinion. Ask for a referral to a pediatric ENT, and if that person won't do it, go see another one. The biggest thing I've learned is, don't be afraid to be 'that' parent. Push and push and push until someone says yes. It is worth it. I mean, I tried drinking with a straw with one nostril covered, and it was terrible. Anna felt that way all the time. I know surgery has its risks, but with a skilled ENT surgeon, the benefits absolutely outweigh them."
I just wanted Sally to know that she had other choices. Other options. And I offered to answer any questions along the way.
Well, it was with sheer joy that I received an update email from Sally last week. They had been to see a new ENT and it was discovered that her little boy had choanal stenosis, which is a partial blocking of one of the nostrils, thankfully not a complete blockage. The new ENT prescribed an antibiotic/steriod nose drops, and her son has been a brand new baby ever since. She thanked me for posting the blog, emailing back, and pushing her to get a 2nd opinion, because if I hadn't, they would still be living in misery. She said "You were a blessing to us."
It truly brings tears to my eyes. That time in our lives was SO hard. So unbelievably, painfully hard. But Sally's story makes me feel like Anna's struggle was not in vain, because, if for nothing else, I feel like we played a tiny part in changing someone's life. And that's pretty cool.
Thank you Sally for letting me share your story today! I am so happy for your family.
* name changed