Monday, December 16, 2013

Post Surgery Update

Minutes before my CI surgery
At Home with my new Turban

My excellent doctor's hand work
      I want to share these pictures to show some of the behind the scenes experiences of what happens right after surgery. Sadly I don't have pictures of all the adventures that have happened in the past three weeks, but the fuzzy brain just didn't think fast enough to put a camera in someone's hand. For the most part it has been a quiet time to just let my body heal. I was in the hospital at 8 a.m. and home by 4 p.m. that afternoon.  I was treated professionally, kindly, expertly at St Joseph's Hospital in Denver. I could not have asked for better care. The surgery lasted a little over three hours, and all I can remember is complete euphoria, good will, and gratitude for getting this far. Drugs may have helped kick in those emotions, but I really haven't lost that feeling yet. 

      My surgery was the Monday before Thanksgiving and by Wednesday, with the help of my own Vietnam Vet husband, we made a QOV presentation to Joe Birge. My participation in this Foundation is very important to me, and I didn't want to miss out on this opportunity. This was not a quilt that I made, but from someone else who participates in this great organization.  It was a special honor to just be the presenter this time.

Two days after surgery.
 Well enough to make a QOV Presentation
Pat from Wisconsin's beautiful quilt presented to
Vietnam Vet Joe Birge
      By Thanksgiving Day, I thought I was on a smooth ride to healing.  Actually I was not yet off the pain meds and the new BP meds that I had to start before surgery were not being too kind to each other. I passed out due to a drastic drop in blood pressure that won me an ambulance ride to the ER and a full day of trying to stabilize my blood pressure.  After years of trying to keep my BP from soaring, this was a whole new experience. Many times in these past few weeks I have had a hard time trying to tell if it was the bp meds or the surgery aftereffects that has been causing the fluctuating numbers, dizzy spells, and light headedness. The one thing I wanted to avoid was to confuse medications, but all the doctors were insistent that I start them before the surgery. Now it will be interesting to see who will blame what. Whatever the case, this is one battle I am allowing myself to retreat from. They can figure it out. I have better things to learning to hear again!

    The next two weeks were pretty mild compared to that first one. I worked through the expected pain without any medication. The most worrisome that proved to be typical were these cattle-prod like shooting pains inside my ear. They tapered off within a few days, and were more comical than painful. Then a new sensation came on board that hinted of a miraculous possibility.  I started hearing that "weird water in your ear" sound. Very likely fluid does build up in the Eustachian tube after this surgery, so this is not abnormal, but the key word here is sound!!  If I am hearing this, it quite possibly means that some of my residual low frequency hearing was not lost.  This was one of the drawbacks I had struggled with in deciding to have a cochlear implant to begin with. I had to come to the realization that what little residual hearing I had would be lost due to the electrode being fed into the tiny cochlea destroying any remaining  live hair cells. As I explained in an earlier post, the amount of hearing is like a healthy foot attached to a destroyed leg...not much use. But the good news is that as technology improves, cochlear implant processors (which are electrical) are being developed to add hearing aid (acoustical) capabilities. I was fortunate enough to be implanted with the newest electrode that is designed to prevent the expected loss. So when such a hybrid is available, the little bit of saved hearing may give me an ever wider range of hearing tones. That's way down the line in the future. Right now I am just grateful that I was given the best technology out there to hear more than I ever have,

   Being completely deaf with no use of a hearing aid on one side,  I have stayed close to home, avoiding crowds more than four, and that can be a challenge during the holiday season. But to be honest, I have loved the excuse.  It has made this holiday less rushed, hassle free, and definitely less stressed. My husband has become my new best friend...again. He has definitely been my hero in this trek.  He was by my side to catch me when I passed out. He gently washed my yucky hair while I held a cup over the stitched ear a long 10 days after surgery. He arranged a mini-birthday/Christmas party (of 4!) to help get a little Christmas spirit going. And, today he finished  decorating the tree (this has ALWAYS been a solo duty for me).  My precious friend and her husband from Wyoming traveled down here to pay me a visit this week, which was more delightful than she could ever imagine. We have spent precious moments with our grand-kids making gingerbread cookies. Shopping has been online and minimal. So far this is the best December I have spent in a very long time.

I am less than 24 hours from meeting with my audiologist to have the processor fitted and activated. This is the climax of this adventure, and while the rising action has been sweet, quiet, and calm, I am full of anticipation, doubt, and yes, just a little fear mixed in there. I want to hope for a "rock star" activation, where I hear voices right way, but I know it may take longer than the immediate gratification I desire. I promise, whatever the result, you will definitely hear from me tomorrow. This is too BIG not to share!


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