Ear tubes, tonsils and braces

As a kid, I was already dairy intolerant. I had problems after every glass of milk. Nobody knew, milk was at that time being marketed as “good for everyone”. I had ear, nose and throat issues, had a nasal spray when I was ten or so. Also, at a very early age, I had ear tubes placed, what, four times?

Why did I have ear tubes placed? I can’t remember having ear infections. What I remember is being told that I talked too loudly.. I was too loud. Especially my father would repeat that I talked too much and too loudly. I remember repeatedly hearing angry outbursts: “you teach them to talk and they don’t shut up”. I was four or five, I think. (I once heard a young father say, looking at his newborn “nah, I can say what I want, he doesn’t know what I’m saying. There’s nobody home yet.” This is a wrong assumption, babies see and hear everything you do and it shapes them from the start. Be careful or it could be a kid like me, who remembers as far back as the first months of life.)

Now, tubes did help me hear better. So there’s that. However, another reason I talked so loudly is that it was the only way to draw mom’s attention or to get a word in edgewise. I used to speak in a strained manner (still do, but less than before) and would continue talking long after I had run out of air. So I’m of the opinion that those surgeries didn’t address the main issues. And.. those surgeries were traumatic for me. Having my tonsils removed was another one. I remember all these surgeries, remember how terrified I was, especially when I had to go back a second time. I don’t know if I’ve written this down before, but I was so scared that I refused to have the ear tubes surgery again. I plead, cried and got angry. They ignored me. It was actually worse, they “talked sense into me” so that I ended up feeling that it was me who had made the decision to have the surgery. I strongly felt at the time as if the responsibility had become fully mine. If it hurt then it was now my own fault, I should not have agreed. This can happen when you to talk a kid into agreeing with something they really don’t want. They’ll blame themselves. Don’t do this. If you want something, just own the decision, don’t offload it to your kid.

The days leading up to the surgery, I got a workbook for kids, explaining what was going to happen. It didn’t really prevent the association I built up: Be good, or they’ll send you to the hospital to hurt you while you sleep. No wonder I’m afraid of doctors. Makes me wonder what happened to my grandfather that made him afraid of the dentist. I used to think that was a byproduct of his war-PTSD, but I now suspect that fear of the dentist must have been caused by a specific encounter with a dentist or doctor.

red and white cake on white table

Lastly, braces. The final torture device. You get shit put in your mouth that blocks you from effectively speaking and communicating. I had to speak through closed teeth for more than a year. The core message of all these interventions to my body: be quiet. This was never the intention, but it happened that way..

I had the wire retainer behind my teeth removed at the start of this year. I’ve felt a little freer to speak, since. At the start of this year I considered a referral to a new orthodontist, to see if my molars and incisors can be pushed outward. I have too little room for my tongue and my lower jaw was pushed back too far. I’m doubting. On the one hand, I don’t want anyone to do anything to my body ever again. On the other hand, I’d like to have my teeth aligned in a way that is more comfortable to me, to reverse some of it. Can’t get my four molars and four wisdom teeth back, but maybe I can free my tongue a little. Still thinking about it.

If I were in charge, it would be forbidden to perform any surgery or intervention on anyone under 18 unless it’s a matter of relieving actual illness or pain. Not discomfort or esthetical reasons. Those are bad reasons to have any procedure done. You can get braces at 18 if you like, adults get them at 30. Ear tubes will damage the ear drum. If there’s no ear infection, leave the kid alone. Both me and my brother have scar tissue on the ear drum and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). A remnant of those surgeries. There’s always a price to pay for any choice you make. A quick fix always carries a price in the long run. Kids need to be protected from that.