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How specialized ENT care helped a whole family sleep at night

To any parent who has experienced long nights with a baby suffering from an ear infection — Carrie Loe understands your pain. Carrie and her husband, Stuart, are raising four children ages 7 and under. Three of them have had recurrent ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems that required specialty care.

“When my babies had ear infections, they were irritable, unhappy and clingy,” she said. And nobody got much sleep.

Enter Thomas Robey, MD, a specialist at Children’s Wisconsin’s Ear, Nose and Throat Program.

As an infant and toddler, Carrie’s oldest son Max, now 7 years old, had recurrent ear infections that would not clear up even with antibiotics. “Our primary care physician sent us to Children’s Wisconsin and that’s when we met Dr. Robey,” said Carrie.

Max’s needs were intense — he had six ear tube surgeries, replacing tubes that fell out as he grew. “Every time his tubes fell out, his ear drums would fill with fluid, causing temporary hearing loss,” said Carrie. Max eventually had his adenoids removed by Dr. Robey as well, helping decrease the incidence of infection.

William, age 3, followed in Max’s footsteps and has needed three sets of ear tubes, as well as ongoing care to prevent and treat sinus infections.

Charlie, age 5, was more of a “classic” case — requiring ear tube surgery just once.

No matter the level of care required, Carrie said Dr. Robey and his staff, including Michelle Trampe, nurse practitioner, made her boys feel as comfortable as possible. “Even though ear tubes and adenoids aren’t high-risk or life-threatening procedures, they take our kids’ care very seriously,” she said.

Carrie saw the difference ENT care made in her children’s quality of life. “As soon as those tubes were in and the ears were clear they were whole new kids — happy, well-rested and energetic.”

Carrie also appreciates being an active part of her kids’ care. “I am always given all the treatment options available. Dr. Robey and Michelle give excellent guidance but also take into account that I am a seasoned parent when it comes to treating my boys’ ears. They truly listen to my concerns and respect my decisions on care.”

Having her boys in school has only increased Carrie’s appreciation for the care they have received. “I realize that tubes and treatments have saved them from severe, permanent hearing loss and that the boys would have struggled if their ears had gone untreated.”

For Carrie, getting a full night’s rest now that her kids no longer suffer chronic ear infections is a relief. “But the greatest gift,” she said, “is the peace of mind we have now that our children are happy and healthy."