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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Yonah 2.0

Many of you who are regular readers are familiar with the story of our four-and-half-year-old (tfu tfu tfu) son Yonah.   He has had to deal with some sensory 'issues' and has been undergoing intensive work with a range of therapists to overcome a range of resulting behavioral and learning problems. 

You may remember that last year he underwent a sleep study that revealed that he was experiencing serious episodes of apnea, a fancy term which basically means he was waking up a lot... more than 30 times per night, as it turns out. 

You may also recall that the doctors felt strongly that the likely culprit for the apnea was the fact that his adenoids and tonsils were overly large.

In due course Yonah was scheduled for surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids, and then we watched helplessly as he went through an unusually long and painful (but full, thank G-d) recovery.

OK, now that everyone is on the same page... here is the long-overdue update on Yonah.

First it should be mentioned that immediately after the surgery, we began pumping the surgeon for information on what he'd found.  Like most parents, we did not take lightly the decision to put our child under the knife, and were especially anxious to hear that we'd done the right thing and that the surgery was indeed necessary.

The surgeon told us that Yonah's tonsils were large, but that his adenoids were unusually large.  Then he stopped himself and said "Did I say unusually large?  Let me correct that.  They were huge... enormous... gigantic!" 

In a follow-up visit, we asked the doctor about the fact that we'd noticed almost immediately that Yonah's speech was much clearer and that he was much more responsive to people and things in his environment.  "Was there any chance", we asked him, "that his hearing had been affected by the over-sized adenoids?"

The doctor thought about it and said, "You know... with adenoids as large as he had, I think there is almost no chance that they weren't interfering with his hearing!"

Like magic we watched as, day by day, Yonah became more interactive and conversational.  He went from frustrated grunts and monosyllabic responses to direct questions, to being an inquisitive chatterbox... asking us about things he'd overheard and even about idioms we used that he didn't understand.

The highlight (for me, anyway) came one Friday morning when I was out running errands in Jerusalem.  I'd taken Yonah along so that he wouldn't be underfoot at home while the big kids were doing their chores.   Yonah had been so well behaved that I decided to treat him to lunch at his favorite falafel joint ('Falafel Daron', located at the corner of Emek Rafa'im & Rachel Imenu, if you must know).  We'd gotten our food and were sitting at a table near the door with Yonah's back towards the street. 

Shortly after we'd tucked into our meals Yonah looked up suddenly and said, "Abba, I hear our car!"   I looked over his head and, sure enough, idling right outside the door was the exact make and model of car that we own.   His hearing had become so sharp that he'd cataloged the sound of our car and recognized the sound when he heard it nearby!

All of the people at his Gan have commented on what a different kid he has become.  He is cheerful and engaging... laughing all the time.  He is much more curious about people and things around him... and is making huge strides in almost every area.  It's all pretty miraculous.

One of the professionals who has been working with us throughout Yonah's odyssey put it best: 

"Well of course there's a dramatic improvement across the board.  The kid hadn't had a decent night's sleep in his entire life!  Nobody can function properly under those circumstances!" 

Add to that the fact that he couldn't hear what was going on around him up until the surgery, and well... this is like getting a great big do-over.  We feel like we've been granted a free upgrade to Yonah 2.0!

Posted by David Bogner on July 1, 2008 | Permalink

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Apnea does not mean "waking up at night," although that is one of the side effects. Apnea means not breathing.

Sleep apnea is unusual in someone Yonah's age. It would explain a lot of his (former, b'ratzon ha-Shem) problems. I know, because I am a former sufferer.

I had a sleep study in 2002. The results were horrifying. I would stop breathing about 80 times during the night, during which periods my blood oxygen would drop to dangerously low levels...enough to start affecting my heart rhythm. And, of course, while you never actually "wake up" due to apnea, you never get the deep REM-stage sleep your body and brain need. You're tired all the time, and your brain function suffers.

The "cure" normally is to sleep with a CPAP machine, which maintains positive pressure in your airway so that it remains open. But my problem really was helped by nasal surgery and losing weight. Now I sleep like a baby...I wake up crying every night. (Heh.) And now my arm is no longer sore from the Missus punching it, trying to get me to (1) breathe, or (2) stop snoring.

I am so happy to hear that Yonah's surgery has had such a dramatic and positive effect (b'li ayin hara). You will be amazed at how far-reaching the impact of sleep apnea is, and how much improved his life will be without it.

Posted by: Elisson | Jul 1, 2008 1:46:21 PM

wow -- that is just amazing. as someone who's seen s.i. problems and their resolution, though not as dramatic as this, i can empathize. kol hakavod and may yonah only improve and fully blossom into the person he is meant to be!

Posted by: nikki | Jul 1, 2008 1:56:40 PM

ב''ה

Posted by: dfb1968 | Jul 1, 2008 2:11:26 PM

This makes me so happy!

Our two-year-old's language took off after we had ear tubes put in, something I wish we hadn't delayed for so long. It's still crazy talk much of the time, but light years beyond where he was.

Turns out he was saying things like, "Mama! Go in da kitchen." And "Daddy, go to work!" I had no idea he was bossing us around. : )

Posted by: Alice | Jul 1, 2008 2:32:41 PM

WOW – those results must make the trauma of the surgery and post-op all worthwhile! Heh, figures - get his hearing to within normal range and Yonah turns into such a guy – identifying engine sounds and stuff like that! But – the insertion of links to old posts with photos does not provide an acceptable substitute for recent pics of the new and improved Yonah (complete with restful sleep, lack of excess adenoid tissue and super duper hearing powers) as well as his canine companions. Hey, I don’t want to have to use rough language with you or anything, but post some #$%$@#$ pictures soon! In the meantime, enjoy your kid – the one who was always there. And kudos to you, Zahava, the ped and his educational team for working so hard together to help Yonah get to this place.

Posted by: Debbie | Jul 1, 2008 2:34:34 PM

Wow! Even with phone updates from Zahava, I'm not sure I really "got" how much Yonah has benefited from his surgery. I'm so happy for your whole family that his surgical ordeal has had such a worthwhile outcome.

Posted by: Rachel | Jul 1, 2008 2:45:36 PM

It is always gratifying when a major decision made by parents is PROVEN to be right. Aliza and I agonized over repeating our oldest in Kindergarden - and there were no sharp knives involved! Turns out that decision was one of the most rewarding decisions we made and it looks like the fruits of your agony are now being paid back.

Continued Hatzlacha!

Posted by: Aharon | Jul 1, 2008 3:50:54 PM

So glad to hear this wonderful news about your son. It reminds me of my sister in Tel Aviv whose daughter had many physical issues and emotional issues, too and after many tests it turned out she had celiac disease. Now that she's on a controlled diet, which she herself can also monitor, she's like a different girl. Best wishes to your family!

Posted by: Su in Atlanta | Jul 1, 2008 3:54:07 PM

Yey!!! Having followed Yonah's story (and the blog in general) for 2-3 years now, all I can say is: Mazel Tov!!!

Posted by: Greg_T | Jul 1, 2008 4:13:13 PM

Great news!

Posted by: westbankmama | Jul 1, 2008 4:47:58 PM

Baruch Ha'shem.

Posted by: Allan | Jul 1, 2008 4:55:45 PM

I'm very happy for you and of course for Yonah. It's just another reminder to people to first rule out physical symptoms, where there is unusual behavior, rather than assuming they're psychological problems (although of course those should be addressed as well).

Posted by: mata hari | Jul 1, 2008 4:55:53 PM

My parents occasionally talk about the first time I was fitted with hearing aids. (about age 3). Apparently I went outside, and when a plane flew overhead, I looked up. My mother said that everything they went through to get the aids was worth it right then and there. Glad things worked out so well for all of you!

Posted by: JDMDad | Jul 1, 2008 5:39:11 PM

That's great news.

:-)

Posted by: Imshin | Jul 1, 2008 6:04:32 PM

I normally just "lurk" on your website, but I had to comment. This is fabulous news, I am so happy to hear that the surgery was a success! Mazal Tov

Posted by: Mara | Jul 1, 2008 6:13:30 PM

Wow! Chasdei Hashem!

Posted by: mochassid | Jul 1, 2008 6:15:56 PM

that is just awesome. my oldest had tubes put in at 9 months old, so we never noticed any major changes, but when we held off and did the same thing with my 2nd at the age of 2, we noticed a marked difference in his speech and attention after he could finally hear! i had no idea he was practically deaf before...truly an amazing feeling to know that you are really able to communicate with your child and that you just weren't before! mazal tov to you...

Posted by: phyllis | Jul 1, 2008 6:47:27 PM

I'm so very happy for all of you that Yonah is doing so well!

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea last year. I was told after my sleep study that I stopped breathing completely 21 times an HOUR. So I am now the proud( ? ) owner of a CPAP machine. Yes, it does help. I'm very glad that Yonah's situation is permanently improved without the need for a machine! Woot!

Posted by: Maya | Jul 1, 2008 7:07:35 PM

I am so happy for Yonah! What a wonderful discovery!

Posted by: weese | Jul 1, 2008 7:26:01 PM

Adenoids? Now I have to go look those up or ask my daughter what they are for. Who'd a thunk?

I know you must be a proud poppa now your kid can ID cars by *sound*... he's got a little gear-head in him, or, more likely, musician.

Since I am a goy, I trust I do not have to spit three times? G-d is great!

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jul 1, 2008 8:37:19 PM

I am so happy for Yonah and for you. I hope this story gets broadcast far & wide, because undiagnosed (and therefore untreated) sleep issues, including infant/toddler apnea, can cause a host of behavior problems.

Posted by: Liz Ditz | Jul 1, 2008 8:42:19 PM

I think the single biggest thrill for us is the frequency with which we now hear him laughing. He simply seems delighted with his new situation....

It's funny... Before the surgery, we never thought of Yonah as an unhappy kid (a tad difficult, perhaps -- but not unhappy). He grinned alot, and seemed to have a nice sense of humor. But now that he is giggling constantly, we are much more aware of the fact that he didn't really laugh all that much before.

Pftu, pftu, pftu (בלי עיין הרע) we are really enjoying watching him just blossom!

Posted by: zahava | Jul 1, 2008 8:42:45 PM

Glad to hear about this big payoff. That is great.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 1, 2008 8:57:22 PM

That's great, I'm very happy for you.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Jul 1, 2008 9:07:02 PM

This is wonderful news. Thank God!

Posted by: Rahel | Jul 1, 2008 9:14:09 PM

Wow. What a blessing!

Posted by: balabusta in blue jeans | Jul 1, 2008 9:27:31 PM

Mazel Tov!!!

You just made my week...month actually! Pass a 'kol hakavod' to Yonah 2.0 for me...and one for you and Zahava of course!

Posted by: Jesse | Jul 1, 2008 9:37:12 PM

Gosh who would have thought such a transformation from bulldozer size adenoids! Fantastic that the little guy is much happier and healthier. Baruch Hashem!

Posted by: Noa | Jul 1, 2008 11:05:33 PM

Our Orli will be having the surgery in a few weeks. She is much older than Yonah, and I don't think we will see any dramatic changes, but I do believe her [G-d willing] improved sleeping habits will help her alot.

We have so much to be grateful for, huh?

Posted by: Baila | Jul 1, 2008 11:24:58 PM

Among the many folk who are overjoyed at this remarkable improvement are his doting grand parents! This has truly "made our day"!!!

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Jul 2, 2008 12:04:27 AM

That's the best news I've heard all day. You must be sooooo grateful.

Posted by: Albert | Jul 2, 2008 12:23:04 AM

So happy for Yonah...you all must be walking on air!

Posted by: Dina | Jul 2, 2008 2:06:14 AM

Baruch Rofeh Holim!

I am very happy for all of you! So, Yonah was suffering from a level of sensory deprivation (reduced hearing) AND sleep deprivation. That would break a grown person. I think it is the Hovot Halevavot who points out it is a blessing that children don't remember vividly their childhood trials when they grow up. B'ezrat Hashem, Yonah will just be a great adult who doesn't even recall how hard all this was.

Now, the parents; that's another story... ;-)

Posted by: Mordechai Y. Scher | Jul 2, 2008 2:39:22 AM

That's amazing! b'H!! :)

Posted by: Ezzie | Jul 2, 2008 3:00:55 AM

wow, this was such a lovely post to read. as parents we so often second guess our decisions, and this totally reinforces that you guys made the right choices, with the right team, and with yad Hashem guiding you.

may yonah go from strength to strength, and may you and zahava have the zecut to shepp nachat from him and his sibs for many years to come.

Posted by: Hadassah | Jul 2, 2008 3:32:35 AM

I am so happy to hear things worked out after the surgery. These decisions are always so difficult that it truly is a blessing to see profound improvement and to know you did well.

Posted by: Chedva | Jul 2, 2008 5:02:58 AM

Fantastic, wonderful news!!

I'm so happy for all of you. What an inspiring development. Thank G-d.

Posted by: Juggling Frogs | Jul 2, 2008 6:15:37 AM

Wow, that's wonderful news! I remember well how pleasantly surprised we were at how quickly our son learned to pronounce consonants once we got him his first pair of hearing aids when he was roughly a year younger than Yonah is. (Fortunately, our son has only a mild-to-moderate hearing loss.) The first time I heard him make a motzi with a correctly-pronounced "chaf," it's a wonder I didn't faint, I was so shocked. May you and your family have many, many more pleasant surprises.

Posted by: Shira Salamone | Jul 2, 2008 6:25:22 AM

Wow, that's wonderful news! I remember well how pleasantly surprised we were at how quickly our son learned to pronounce consonants once we got him his first pair of hearing aids when he was roughly a year younger than Yonah is. (Fortunately, our son has only a mild-to-moderate hearing loss.) The first time I heard him make a motzi with a correctly-pronounced "chaf," it's a wonder I didn't faint, I was so shocked. May you and your family have many, many more pleasant surprises.

Posted by: Shira Salamone | Jul 2, 2008 6:26:46 AM

No one who doesn't have apnea can imagine how impaired thay are, and how, when fixed, their life changes. Enjoy him and watch him continue to grow exponentialy.

Posted by: chaimj | Jul 2, 2008 7:49:17 AM

the more I read (at places like ifeel.co.il) about adenoids, I convince myself more and more that my darling little angel is also suffering from them. But, he's only 13 months old, probably too early to start on them, or am I wrong (the wife who must be obeyed reckons I am wrong)

Posted by: asher | Jul 2, 2008 12:14:05 PM

and I clean forgot to congratulate you on the decision to put Yonah "under the knife" with all the heart-searching involved. (p.s. we're taking little angel to an ENT specialist)

Posted by: asher | Jul 2, 2008 12:19:09 PM

Baruch Rofeh Cholim!

Posted by: Jameel @ The Muqata | Jul 2, 2008 5:07:35 PM

Baruch Rofeh Cholim!

Posted by: Jameel @ The Muqata | Jul 2, 2008 5:23:35 PM

This sounds a LOT like my four year old son. After reading your posting and sending it to my wife to read we decided to make an appointment for our son and have his adenoids looked at next week.

Posted by: A Simple Jew | Jul 2, 2008 5:26:22 PM

Baruch H-shem! Terrific news, thanks for sharing.

Posted by: SaraK | Jul 2, 2008 6:01:32 PM

That is fantastic! I'm so happy for you and Yonah!!!!!

Posted by: Ahuva | Jul 2, 2008 7:28:54 PM

May your family's future be filled with equally wonderful news.

Posted by: Jonathan | Jul 2, 2008 11:31:47 PM

Amazing what a difference breathing and hearing make, poor thing. There's a brand new world now for him to discover, and added layers to the son you already had, how wonderful! I'm truly very happy for you.

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 3, 2008 9:45:59 AM

Please, I want to add my heartfelt congratulations for the relief that the surgery has given Yonah!

Posted by: peggy | Jul 3, 2008 11:05:09 PM

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