Surgery in Singapore


Our tough little guy Bruce is/was a late talker.  It has been something that has always worried John and I as he always seemed to be “behind” his peers in regards to speech.  It was confusing because he learned to crawl and walk early.  His motor skills always seemed ahead of the curve and he was good at pretty much everything except talking.  When he did finally start speaking “a lot”  we noticed there were words and sounds he absolutely could not make.  As frustrated as we were that his speaking was not coming along, imagine how it must have been for Bruce.  We finally took him to a speech therapist who after testing him pointed out what we had so clearly missed.  Our boy was tongue tied.  His tongue was literally tied to the bottom of his mouth.  A little clip could have been made when he was a baby, and that would have been the end of it, but it wasn’t and so for Bruce the tongue tie issue was now extreme.  He literally, physically could not lift his tongue.  No wonder he could never say words with “L” in them or T’s or “th” sounds. Our speech therapist  asked if he had done things like bang his head when he was younger (yes…..he did.)  She also knew that he was probably an aggressive kid (right again).  All signs of someone who wants to but physically cannot communicate well with those around him and the banging of head and aggressive behavior were classic symptoms of frustration.   This tongue tie issue also made him a very picky eater.  For some reason, his tongue could not tolerate certain textures and his diet although varied enough had been a constant source of tension for us as well.  So, he’s tongue tied. What next?  If he were a baby, a simple clipping of the frenulum would have been done, no problem.  But for Bruce, his tongue was literally so tied that a little clip was now out of the question.  He would have to be put “under”, and a minor surgery would have to be performed.  It would still be a day in/day out surgery, but anytime your little one has to “go under”, it’s a big decision and we thought long and hard about which doctor we would trust and where we would get this done.  After many consultations and lots of research, we elected to do this surgery in Singapore.  A friend of ours knew of an excellent pediatric ENT there and via phone calls and  emails we set up a consultation in which we would decide whether to go forward with the minor surgery for Bruce after we met. The ENT is Dr. Luke Tan at Mount Elizabeth hospital.  We can’t say enough about him and his staff and the day surgery team at Mount Elizabeth.  They were absolutely incredible with Bruce and with us!  They made sure we knew exactly what the procedure would entail, how long Bruce would be “out”, how long it would take him to wake back up and kept us informed every single step of the way.  For Bruce, well…..they treated him like a rock star.  They made it all seem like one fun activity to the next from wheeling him into the surgery room, to giving him a balloon to blow up while they took his vitals, then giving him a sharpie to “decorate” his balloon (whom he named Oscar by the way) while they continued to prep him, and then made a game of him blowing up another “balloon” when really he was inhaling the sleeping gas that would put him “under”.  We did try to explain to Bruce that we were there to fix his tongue, but in his mind, his tongue didn’t need fixing but he was happy to go along with all the fun things we were doing.  I got to stay by his side for all of the prepping until the actual surgery began.  The surgery probably lasted about twenty minutes.  It took a little longer because Bruce’s tongue tie was so severe that more cutting and stitching was necessary than the doctor had initially thought, but the good news is that the doctor thinks that since the tongue tie was soo bad, his speech problems might be self correcting.  Bruce woke up about ten minutes later than we all expected him to (and yes I was nervous) but when he finally came to, it took him no time to really “wake up” and become the usual tazmanian devil that he is.  We were discharged from the hospital a few hours later and this is no joke, no exaggeration, he started working his tongue and sticking it out and up and really noticing the difference in mobility he now had.  Here are pics of us getting ready for the surgery.  As you can see, Bruce is in a good, cheerful mood, thanks to the day surgery team at Mount Elizabeth.  They were so kind and sweet and funny with him.  I should have taken pics of the staff…but my heart and mind were all putty that morning.



During Bruce’s full on ENT check up, we also found that he will be needing a follow up surgery to remove his adenoids.  Like his big sister Tori at his age, he has trouble breathing at nights and always sounds like he has a cold.  We will return for that surgery in summer, but I can honestly say that I am no where near as anxious and nervous about it as I was this first one. We have now had the experience of getting a procedure done with Dr. Tan and his staff and the day surgery team at Mount Elizabeth and I know Bruce will be in the best hands.

The rest of the trip to Singapore was a blur.  We had been to Singapore quite a few times when we lived in Malaysia, but being back there after our time in India, I can tell you we were seeing Singapore again like a long lost friend.  It was wonderful to be driving around in streets with no cows, and no potholes…..and well it was just nice to be in a different scene.  We had a wonderfully funny cab driver who fell in love with John and told us what a beautiful man he was!  He told us John was as handsome as Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink (sp) put together, lol I agreed! He also commented that John had amazing “waterproof hair”.. heehee, a new phrase that I had not heard before but will never forget.  We did of course the touristy things like the duck boat tour (Bruce insisted), where we saw the most amazing views of “the ship stuck on the hotel” and the Singapore zoo and of course we hit Clark Quay one evening and to John’s delight we had hot wings at the first “Hooters” in Asia.  We also did a little bit of shopping, not near enough as I had planned (I came down with a wicked cough/flu bug right after Bruce’s surgery) but a little shopping none the less. Yikes! Can’t believe I almost forgot to mention the really cool “Art of the Brick” Leggo exhibit.  By Nathan Sawaya?….(forgot his last name) anywhere pics will be shown below.  Tres cool.  Scratch that, I just reviewed the pics, and that will be a post all on it’s own.  It was FABULOUS.

It’s been a full week since the surgery and the improvement in speech for Bruce has been like night and day.  He still struggles a bit as he is using a muscle that he never had use of before, but now it’s all about showing him how to use it, the difference is, he CAN now.  He can say “L” sounds now too,  and for the first time in his life he was able to tell me that he was “thirsty”….he would always tell me he was “hungry” when he wanted something to drink.  Happy does not describe.

That’s all for now folks, till next time.



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