Yesterday we had a clinic visit with Namine’s ENT doctor, Dr. Sulman. The meeting’s purpose was to talk about the clipping Namine’s frenulum (the webbing under her tongue), since she’s tongue-tied. I think the meeting went rather well.
Dr. Denny, Namine’s plastic surgeon, had told Dr. Sulman that Namine’s speech was not going to improve. The solution, then, would be to clip the frenulum. This would free her tongue in order to make the sounds she needed to make. She had her concerns, however: Namine’s jaw, while it was been brought forward during the mandibular distraction, is still further back than the jaw of a normy child. And there’s no moving her tongue, which has been and always will be further back in her mouth. So clipping the frenulum poses the risk of causing her tongue to collapse in the back of her throat, choking her.
The compromise proposed by Dr. Sulman would be to do a scope, observing Namine’s airway once more while asleep. The chemically induced sleep, we were told, would mimic real sleep as much as possible; if Dr. Sulman felt everything looked good, then… snip.
During the discussion with Dr. Sulman, we asked why Dr. Denny has suddenly been so vocal about Namine needing this procedure. Why now, when in visits past he’d been fine with Namine’s progress on her own? She told us that it was likely because of the speech pathologist we’d seen at Namine’s ENT clinic visit a couple weeks back. He’d told me that Namine would be incapable of making the correct sounds for speech; indeed, even the sounds she can make now, he told me, she is making incorrectly. In order to speak properly, she would likely require surgical intervention. So he told me; Dr. Sulman believes that he told the same thing to Dr. Denny, and he believed him.
First of all, Namine has not plateaued in her progress in speech. She is more intelligible every day, so much so that she can strike up a conversation with the cashier in the grocery store and be understood. The same certainly could not be said six months ago, I assure you.
Secondly, I am in no way convinced that the benefits of clipping Namine’s frenulum are worthwhile. In fact, I told Dr. Sulman the opposite: that I believe the risks far outweigh the benefits of this procedure. For Namine to have worked so hard, to have done so well, only to gamble it all? Not worth it, in my opinion. Especially when she’s doing so well already, when her speech and articulation have already surpassed the expectations of doctors and therapists.
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