You Won't Believe What the Doctor Found in My Son's Nose and How it Got There

Hubby took our nine-year-old son, Slim, to the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor yesterday. Slim, who was born with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate, gets sinus infections quite frequently. It seemed as though he had had one since the summer. And it wasn't getting any better.

In fact, it was getting much worse. There was such a stench about him that I could barely stand to talk to him face-to-face. And school has started, so I'm sure the other kids felt that way, too. That made me feel awful, as I'm sure he gets bullied enough.

Slim has been miserable, wiping his nose until it became raw, not getting a decent night's sleep, and the smell - did I mention the smell? After several visits to the pediatrician and a couple of prescriptions for antibiotics that weren't working, Hubby stepped in and took him to the ENT.

After listing his symptoms and the variety of antibiotics Slim had been on, Hubby, an oral surgeon, started suggesting other options for Slim to the ENT - a culture and sensitivity to test for a fungal infection, a balloonplasty to open up Slim's sinus so it could drain out his nose - when suddenly Dr. E held up her hand.

Dr. E: "You say it's only one nostril?"

Hubby: "Yes."

Dr. E: "He has something stuck in his nose."


So, she sprayed some lidocaine in his nose and started digging away. Soon, she pulled out a piece of paper.

But she wasn't done.

Dr. E: "There's something else up there. Excuse me, I need to go get an assistant."

At this point Hubby was freaking out just a little (he didn't tell me this, but I bet he was). When he got home, he said to me, "I'll give you $1,000 if you can guess what Dr. E pulled out of Slim's nose."

Okay, I'll play. Mama needs a new fall wardrobe. So, I'm guessing the obvious, like Kleenex or a Lego head or a piece of eraser.

Dr. E came back in and dug, and Slim screamed, and she pulled out:


It's amazing to me that none of my five boys has ever stuffed something up his nose or in his ear. That's a rite of boy-mom passage that I've never had to endure - still . . .because it didn't get in his nose by him pushing it in there (well, I guess technically the paper did, but he said he was just trying to stop his nose from running).  It actually entered his nose through his mouth.

As far back as we can remember, Slim has always loved meat and gnawing meat off bones. In fact, that earned him the nickname, T-Bone.

Isn't he cute? "Mmm, meat. Nom nom nom."

He loves to crunch on the bones, even though we tell him not to. He must have been crunching on a bone, and it slipped through his soft palate into his nose. Even though his palate has been repaired, it has opened again from the palate expander we are using to prepare his mouth for orthodontia.

You're damned if you do . . .

Basically, he's had a rotting animal bone in his nose. He already smells better.

So the thing about cleft lip and palate kids is they are all different - the degree of their clefting is different, and they may or may not have a variety of other issues (for example, Slim also has sleep apnea). Many people mistakenly think they are "one and done" as far as surgical repairs, and that's simply not true. Many face a lifetime of oralmaxillofacial surgery.

Couple this with the inevitable psycho-social issues that these kids face - the stares, the strange looks from peers, and the differential treatment based on their appearance and nasally voices - and they have a hard row to hoe. Then add something as bizarre as this on top of it, and the whole situation just sucks.

But you know what? Slim just takes it in stride. We asked him this morning how he was feeling, and he simply replied, "Fine."

He didn't even know it was in there. Because his palate and nose have been reconstructed, he doesn't have the same sense of feeling that you and I have. And that's probably a blessing. Just another day in the life? Right?

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