Yesterday was surgery to implant my right ear and I’m told everything went well.
I had an appointment with the audiologist Tuesday afternoon for more mapping (programming) for my left ear. It continues to improve wonderfully. On the word recognition test before surgery, I got 1% of the words correct – a computer voice reading the words in a quiet sound booth. Tuesday we repeated the same test and I got 93% correct! With background noise I got 65% correct. The audiologist was as excited as I was with those results. It’s only been 3 months since the implant in that ear was activated.
My surgery was yesterday morning at 8am. I had to check in to the hospital at 6am. I just can’t rave enough about the Cochlear Implant program at Vanderbilt Medical Center. The first hour, from 6-7 was fairly boring. Changing into a hospital gown and non-slip socks, vital signs, starting an IV and then just laying there watching things happen with other patients.
Sometime around 7 or so the parade of people started. First the surgery nurse who would care for me. It’s a nice thing to meet each person who is involved and she was very sweet. Next, Dr. Wanna, my surgeon came by. He is very funny by nature and always has a smile. He shared that a second implant is a little harder because he tries to make sure they are somewhat symmetrical, both for cosmetic and functional reasons. I found that very reassuring. He also asked if I would participate in another research study. This study involves measuring how sound is transmitted to the auditory nerve as the electrode is inserted into the cochlea. The study is specific to the manufacturer I selected, Advanced Bionics. Of course I agreed.
Next 2 younger men came into the area. One of them was an associate of Dr. Wanna. His name was Dr. Shockley. We discussed the medications I’d go home with as well as general information about the surgery itself. Dr. O’Connell was the other gentleman. I met him in Dr. Wanna’s office in February. He is more focused on research and he explained the research study that Dr. Wanna asked me about and had me sign the paperwork for it.
The anesthesiologist, Dr. Canlas was in next. He did the anesthesia for me during my last surgery. He’s the one who first suggested putting a Scopolamine patch behind my ear to help with nausea and dizziness. We decided to do that again since it worked so well last time.
Before he left, a nurse from the research department came in to ask if I would participate in the same study I was in during my February surgery. It involves randomly assigning one of two methods to insert the electrode into the cochlea with the goal of seeing if one of the two does a better job at preserving residual hearing. I gladly signed those papers as well. I fully believe in and want to support the evolution of this technology. There are people who have participated before me that have helped pave the way for the techniques used during my surgery.
The last visitor was the nurse anesthetist. We discussed the medications that would be used during surgery and what would happen during surgery. She said that she’d be giving me Propofol just before we left for surgery. For those of you playing along at home, you may recall that this is the drug so widely discussed with Michael Jackson’s death. Within seconds after she put it into the IV in my arm I could feel the effects. It’s a little hard to describe, but it quickly relaxed me and I felt somewhat euphoric. The ride down the hall on the cart seemed to be happening in slow motion. It wasn’t scary at all, just sort of cool. They put me to sleep within 2-3 minutes after I got onto the surgery table.
When I woke up after surgery, I felt very groggy. I don’t remember many details about getting dressed and into the car. In fact, I don’t remember much until we were somewhere between Hopkinsville and Madisonville – that’s probably about an hour and a half after we left.
Fast forward to today. My post-op has been a little different from last time. My main complaints are having a very sore jaw on the side of the surgery and having my tongue be half numb. Neither are uncommon, but I didn’t have either with the first surgery. I feel a little “woozy” when I stand up, but that shouldn’t last long. My earache is dull but present. I don’t have the muscle spasm pain in the back of my head that I had in February. That might still happen and I’ll use ice packs if it does. One other thing that I’ve had more of is a very loud intermittent roaring noise in the ear operated on. I’ve had tinnitus in that ear for several years, but this is different. It’s also related to the surgery and the build up of fluid from surgery, so it’s expected to go away with a little time.
This morning I brushed my teeth, washed my face and put my contacts in to help me feel a little normal. I can’t shower until Sunday. Later today I’ll remove the plastic cup that’s over my ear. It’s held on with a Velcro strap around my head. That will make my head feel better.
Thanks to all for continued support and lifting me up! More updates coming soon!!