I suppose it goes without saying that surgery, anywhere on your body, is not fun. But your head is so much of who you are… is it different? For me, the lead up to surgery, expectations, fears, etc. contributed to a pretty intense experience. Much of it mentally and emotionally. The support of my husband Peter and nurse practitioner sister Catherine were key and I am so grateful to them. The actual procedure went very smoothly without complication. On my head.
Barbara ready for discharge
You’re sent home from the hospital with a huge bandage around your head and ear that makes you look like a wounded Civil War soldier. The bandage comes off after one day. Although perhaps I was premature in removing the bandages. Because I think I was rocking that look 😉
First day and a half – bleh. Nauseous, woozy, no appetite. Yes you read that right, no appetite. For anyone who knows me, that in itself is somewhat alarming. However, not to worry, my eating is ramping up again!
Lots of sleeping. Occasionally dizzy and unsteady. Moving slowly.
Each day getting more energy back, feeling a little bit more myself. The toughest thing is just not feeling 100%. I’ve been so lucky all my life to be so healthy that I have no point of reference for being less than. Patience is what I need and that is not one of my natural strengths.
How is my hearing right now?
First of all, I am very happy to have one sort-of-working natural ear. While I may not hear very well it anchors me in the familiar. I’m doing okay with one-to-one communication without outside noise interference. I’ve been concerned about whether or not I’m yelling. So far, my sister tells me I was yelling in the recovery room but since then my speech volume has been okay. I’m also asking those around me to please tell me if I start to yell. Modulating is a bit tricky right now since I’m hearing so little.
What about the implanted ear?
It feels like I have a heavy ear muff over that ear. I guess that’s how the loss of my residual hearing feels. Surprisingly, that’s not freaking me out. I wonder if, once the swelling goes down and healing completes, whether I’ll hear anything in that ear without the implant turned on? Probably not.
The first day after surgery, I’d hear strange sounds in the implanted ear… boooop…beeeep. Sort of like a hearing test. The sounds would occur briefly and fade away. Moving from laying down to upright seemed to trigger tinnitus, aka ringing, sometimes really loud! Again, that would subside, mostly. Now it’s a steady tinnitus, which I had prior to surgery. Don’t love it but it’s something I’m used to. Once activated, the sound I hear via the implant will most likely mask the tinnitus.
I rest. I heal. I wait.
I will visit the surgeon in a few days to make sure all looks well. I try to put aside any crazy thoughts like the surgeon saying, “I had some leftover parts at the end of the surgery…” or “Gee, that doesn’t look right. Guess I’ll have to go back in…”.
The cochlear implant audiology department contacted me regarding color choices on my processor equipment from Advanced Bionics. This is exciting. I’m one of the early ones in the U.S. to have the waterproof Neptune processor as an option. That will be the interesting part. Trying it all out. If all goes well activation happens about 4 weeks post surgery.
But in the meantime, Patience and Faith. Patience and Faith.