“Can you hear yet?!”
If I had a dime for every time I have been asked this since I had my surgery, my piggy bank would be overflowing! I wouldn’t be a rich girl but I would have enough money to buy my poochie a couple bones. The surgery is the first step of this journey back to sound. Nothing is ever easy, and learning how to hear again is no exception. My next step is activation. Before you even bat your eye, I’m going to explain the process and what activation entails, and with pictures too!
The surgery inserts the internal part, the cochlear implant. The cochlear implant (see picture above) was inserted right above my left ear and under my skin as you can see here. A small hole was drilled through the mastoid bone to gain access to my cochlea and feed the tail through. At the end of the tail, you will notice the wire is a thicker. The thicker part of the wire houses 16 electrodes. The clear plastic mouse shape part is where the receiver and the magnet are located. The magnet is the part that resembles a watch battery at the top of the implant. Essentially, I got micro chipped :D I have no qualms with walking around asking people to cop a feel off my magnet.
This diagram gives offers you a visual interpretation of how the implant is inserted in my ear. If you follow the silver wire that starts from the top part of the ear, you will see that the electrodes follow the contour of the cochlea (the snail shape organ). It is pretty nifty right? With any surgery, there is minimal trauma but time heals all wounds and Vitamin E and cocoa butter heals all scars. My time to heal is three weeks before activation. I am down two and one week to go! Technically, it is closer to six days and 19 some odd hours but who is counting. Ah, hem…
Activation involves the external part of the system, which is the processor that resembles your standard behind the ear hearing aid. The coil with the flat round disc at the end houses a magnet that will attach to the magnet in the implant that lies under my head. Whew, try saying that five times fast. Before I continue, for the record my processor will be boring beige. I am far too colorful with my hair and wardrobe to rock a colorful processor. Once the two magnets attract each other then my audiologist, Jennifer who is going to be my new best friend for the next couple of months, can get down to business and start programming the implant according to how I respond to the tones. Once the programming is complete, she activates me and slowly starts to turn up the volume to a comfortable level. At this point, I should be able to hear something. These sessions are called mappings that will be explained in detail as the countdown dwindles down. I like to keep my loyal readers in suspense! :D
More details at 11 tomorrow.