Everything is a little muted in five-year-old Leo Trentadue’s world these days.
The New Westminster boy has too much fluid in his ears and it makes everything sound like he’s underwater – according to Leo’s surgeon, who will finally be able to operate on her little patient at the end of November.
“It has been a very long wait and it’s very frustrating,” said his mom, Mary Trentadue. She said she first suspected that Leo couldn’t hear as well as everyone else could two years ago and has been waiting for surgery to fix the problem for 14 months now.
“I used to think, when he was smaller, that it was cute, his way of pronouncing. But then I realized that just the way he’s hearing it – he’s hearing it incorrectly,” Trentadue told reporters Tuesday at a news conference.
WATCH: Mary Trentadue and MLA Judy Darcy speak out for Leo.
“We do a lot of yelling in this house,” she said. “Leo can’t hear so every time he goes to sports class or anywhere there is a coach, we always have to make sure they know he can’t hear and that he’s not essentially ignoring them.”
While an almost one-and-a-half year wait for surgery isn’t ideal at any time, Trentadue said she feels like it could have a lasting impact on Leo’s education.
“I worry about children who are starting school and if they don’t have a parent who’s advocating for them or doesn’t know that they have hearing issues… it sets them off on the wrong foot,” she said. “I think it’s a really crucial time for children so this has been a really frustrating experience dealing with the ministry and waiting for our surgery.”
She pointed to a lack of operating hours allocated to surgeons. Leo’s surgeon only gets four hours a month, which Trentadue called “ridiculous.”
New Westminster MLA and NDP health critic Judy Darcy said it’s an easy issue to solve.
“This government has not prioritized investing in public healthcare,” she said. “The fact is that there are too many children waiting far too long.”
— New Democrat Caucus (@BCNDPCaucus) November 15, 2016
The health ministry had yet to return a request for comment.