A spot of bother

Something didn't seem right, but all I had was a mother's instinct

Published by: Laura Hinton
Published on: 27th January 2011

The wails of my 10-week old son Jordan echoed around the room as the nurse gently moved his tiny feet.
She was rotating the bone with her fingers, slowly stretching the soft tissue.
‘Come on, sweetie,’ I soothed, tickling his chubby little fingers to distract him.
As she fitted the boots made to fix his club feet, Jordan’s beautiful brown eyes locked on to mine.
‘Nearly finished,’ I cooed, stroking his fluffy brown hair to calm him.
With my hand resting on his left ear, I looked up at my boyfriend Michael, 36, wondering if he was thinking what I was.
‘Um, while we’re here,’ he began, ‘could you look at a lump on the back of Jordan’s ear?’
Clearly he was.
She’d probably think we were being over-cautious parents – but I’d been worried about the lump
ever since I’d spotted it behind Jordan’s left ear a couple of days ago.
Both ears had been unusually waxy too.
The doctor had reassured me it was an infection, given me antibiotics and told me to come back in 36 hours for a check-up. I hadn’t been able to stop worrying about it, though.
‘Don’t you think it’s weird?’ I’d grumbled to Michael that night. ‘They’d usually say come back after seven days with antibiotics…’
Although Jordan was our second child, I’d been extra protective because he’d been born with club feet. That’s why me and Michael had decided to mention it to the nurse now.
As the nurse peered at his ear, I felt apprehensive.
‘Hmm…’ she muttered quietly under her breath. ‘It’s certainly an infection.’
The lump, positioned behind his ear near the top, looked red and swollen. It was the size of a small pebble and made his ear stick out.
‘I-I’ll be back in a minute,’ said the nurse, her eyes darting from me to Michael before she left the room.
‘Maybe she’s getting him some medicine?’ Michael said.
‘I hope so,’ I shivered. But something in the pit of my stomach told me otherwise.
She came back – with a doctor. ‘We need to admit Jordan,’ he said, after a close inspection.
‘Y-you what?’ I stuttered, feeling my knees go weak.
‘This could be a deadly infection,’ he told us. ‘If it gets into his brain, he could die if he doesn’t have treatment.’
‘I-I don’t understand,’ I said, unable to take in what he was saying. ‘He… but… ’
I collapsed back on to my seat in shock. My ears began to ring, I felt trapped in a giant bubble, confused. ‘A deadly brain infection?’ I repeated, lost for words.
How was this happening – we only came to get his boots fitted!
Looking at Jordan gurgling on the bed, he was a picture of innocence. I shuddered, imagining that deadly infection slowly seeping into his brain. I had to close my eyes to block it out.
Suddenly I realised the doctor was talking again. ‘Has Jordan been ill recently?’ he was asking.
‘Um, he… yes, he had a cold a week ago,’ I nodded in reply.
‘Well, Jordan has mastoiditis, which is normally caused by an inner ear infection,’ he explained. ‘The mastoid, a part of the skull behind the ear, is infected.’
‘What’s going to happen to him?’ asked Michael.
‘We’ll treat him with a course of antibiotics and possibly surgery, if necessary ,’ he added. ‘This condition’s rare these days, though, because most children are treated with medication before it gets to this stage.’
Jordan was taken to the children’s ward and put on a drip.
They’d decide whether he’d need surgery or not in the morning.
Before that, Michael had to go home to look after our two-year-old daughter Holly.
‘It’s going to be all right,’ he told me. A quick peck on the cheek, a worried look, and he was gone.
The next thing I knew, a doctor was pushing a needle into Jordan’s tiny hand.
He screamed out in pain, his chubby little face going bright red.
Every wail tugged at my heartstrings.
He couldn’t even kick his little legs out properly because of the special boots he’d just had fitted, the poor thing.
Later, doctors confirmed that the infection had gone into the bone, and he’d need to have surgery.
The next day, as he was settled into one of the special operating trolleys, my heart pounded hard in my chest.
‘Mummy will be waiting for you when you wake up,’ I whispered into his soft, silky hair.
As I watched him being wheeled away, I gripped Michael’s hand.
‘You have to remember, we spotted this in the nick of time,’ he said with an encouraging smile. 
He was right…
But what would have happened if we hadn’t mentioned that lump by his ear again?
It just didn’t bear thinking about.
My eyes kept darting to the clock as an agonising two hours slowly ticked by.
I tried distracting myself by drinking coffee, pacing the room, chattering endlessly about everyday things. But every now and then it would hit me.
They’ll probably be making a hole in the back of Jordan’s ear… or draining out the infection… or drilling away at his skull…
It made me feel sick.
When the doctor finally came to get us, I couldn’t get up to the ward quick enough. The minute I saw him, I filled up. Jordan was lying so still, a huge bandage covering his head.
‘It’s good news,’ the doctor told us. ‘We got rid of all the infection.’
My hands shook as I took in what he was saying – our baby boy was going to pull through.
‘If it hadn’t have been for his mummy’s eagle eyes, he could have died within a week,’ he added, looking at me. ‘Most children with mastoiditis don’t have any symptoms. You were right to get this lump checked.’
I let out a gasp of shock as relief flooded through me. Thank God I’d trusted my instinct!
As it was, Jordan was well enough to go home after just four days. The massive bandage on his head was the only reminder of all he’d been through.
Even now, six months on, me and Michael can’t believe how close our little one was from death.
I check his ear every day, just to make sure it hasn’t come back.
And I’m glad I did – because it returned twice! We rushed him to hospital straight away and received antibiotics in the nick of time.
Doctors hope it will be something he’ll grow out of.
Until then, I’ll keep my eagle eyes on Jordan’s ears. And the one thing I can promise you is that no lumps or bumps will slip by this mum!
Aimee Jordan, 23, Rugby, Warwickshire