Thursday, March 26, 2009

Recovery From Going Bilateral...

I have been awful about updating my blog but I'm a busy bilateral bee. I got my stitches taken out on Saint Patty’s Day at some gosh awful time of 7:45 in the morning. The doctor said everything looks great. As I mentioned in my other post that when I was in the recovery room, the doctor said something about a hole in my head but I was a little preoccupied with organizing a manhunt for my Blackberry to care about a little hole in my head. I was concerned about it later on.

As I was getting the stitches ripped out of my head, the subject of the hole happened to come up. The area where the surgeon wanted to create a bed to put my implant in was thin and in doing so small part of the Dura Mater which is the covering of the brain had a hole in it and some cerebrospinal fluid leaked out. The surgeon had to patch that up. It is a similar to when they implant a baby because their skull is thin and pliable. First, I was a little freaked out because I was envisioning this implant sitting right on top of my brain but it is actually sitting on mostly skull except for a small portion of Dura Mater. That makes me feel a little better. I had to ask if I had to take any extra caution in activities and he told me to use common sense - right.

After the question and answer session with my surgeon, I preceded right back home to take a much needed shower. I admit that with this surgery, I was not as strict with the doctor’s orders as I was the last time. Day three, I decided to throw caution to the wind and slather the incision up with Neosporin and hire a cheap shampoo girl (Mom) to wash my hair. Afterwards, I dried the incision thoroughly with Hydrogen Peroxide and applied a layer of Neosporin. I guess I should put a half hearted disclaimer here: If this influences you to blatantly disregard your doctor’s orders, I am or this blog in no way shape or form responsible for your actions.

Now with the legalities out of the way, I wanted to create a post specifically to compare and contrast my left ear which was my first implant and my right ear which is the newest addition to magnetville. I revisited my surgery posts for my left ear. A wave of nostalgia came over me but I'm over it already. :)

Here goes.

Recovery room:

LEFT: When I woke up in the recovery room, I was in a good amount of pain. I felt as if my head got ran over by a Mack truck. The nurses were quick to shoot my IV up with some pain relievers. God bless them. It took a little while to come around from the anesthesia. I was under for three and half hours because my doctor had some issues getting the last electrode in but finally got the bugger in.

RIGHT: This time, I woke up with very little pain. I was able to wake up quicker since my surgery was only two and half hours. I was up and around within a half hour. The surgeon had no problem getting all the electrodes and the only issue were the leaking brain juice.


LEFT: I parked my big ol’ butt on a recliner for a week. There was no way, no how I could lie down. When I tried to lay flat in my bed, I experienced the sensation of a spinning vortex. So the recliner it was for me.

RIGHT: The first night, I slept on an incline but by morning, I was sleeping flat on my back on a pillow and have continued to do so.

Pain pills:

LEFT: I was given the generic form of Vicodin that I was instructed to take two every four hours as needed. Well, I needed the whole damn bottle because I felt as if I got into a car accident with the aches and pains. I was a pill popping freak with this surgery.

RIGHT: This time around, I got the good stuff - Percoset which did the trick beautifully. Strictly for pain management - one in the morning and one at night for five days then I switched over to Tylenol gelcaps. One bad side effect of Percoset is constipation so try to increase your daily intake of fiber while popping the perks. :) Words of wisdom.

Metallic Taste Disturbance:

LEFT: I didn't get this side effect the first time and anytime I read that someone suffered from it, my reaction was always the same - dude, that sucks.

RIGHT: What goes around, comes around and it rolled around on day four, I went to take a sip of coffee that I had slumberly prepared that morning and as it coated my taste buds, a distinct copper flavor was detected in the right hemisphere of my tongue. Much to my dismay, I went on a coffee hiatus. It took about a week and a half for that to go away and for that next week and half, I found out what the headless horseman felt like but I lost four pounds. :)

Day of Doom: Day Three

LEFT: When day three rolled around, I was feeling pretty crappy.

RIGHT: When day three rolled around, I was feeling so good that I went back to work on day four which I will now admit was a very stupid move because I was so drained just sitting there. I resumed my right to recovery at home on day five with all the Food Network I could watch.


LEFT: The only time that I experienced dizziness was when I laid down and I tried very hard not to do that!

RIGHT: Nothing at all :)


LEFT: I remember getting the cotton ball feeling with this ear for about two weeks.

RIGHT: The only time I experience the sensation of fullness is when I bend over.

Jaw pain:

LEFT: My jaw was tender but I could eat a hamburger without cringing in pain.

RIGHT: This time around was ouch. the jaw tenderness was bumped up a couple of notches. I couldn't yawn without flinching. Since opening my jaw anymore than an inch caused me to wince in pain, food preparation was a fiasco. Everything had to be in extra small bites.


LEFT: It was the fattest ear that I have ever seen in my life.

RIGHT: If I had any swelling, I couldn't tell and neither could anyone else. By the third day, curiosity got the best of me because I wanted to see whether the magnet from my processor could find the implant. It had no problem attaching itself.


LEFT: The top of my ear felt as if it had been anesthetized for three months. It took about three months for me to get feeling back into my ear. I could not sleep on for three weeks. In fact, the day of my activation was the day I was able to sleep on it.

RIGHT: Considering that I am two and half weeks post surgery, it is still numb but I can sleep on it now!


LEFT: Before the surgery, I had a major case of tinnitus that sounded like a train going around my head. After the surgery, I woke up to complete quiet. It was so pleasant to have that turned off. :) I did experience short episodes of tinnitus but after activation, it was gone.

RIGHT: I had some minor tinnitus before the surgery. After the surgery, it was like a different album was playing. Now, I don't hear much of anything except on occasions. I expect it to be less than noticeable when I get turned on.

Nose blowing.

LEFT: I don't even want to recount the anguish I went through when I just attempted to blow my nose with this surgery. I was truly paralyzed in pain.

RIGHT: Considering the painful experience I had with the left ear, I didn't want to take any chances. I decided to follow doctors orders on this and wait the two weeks before I attempt to blow my nose. The result was snot and a slight ear pop. :)

Neck stiffness:

LEFT: My neck was a little stiff but not near as stiff as the right ear.

RIGHT: My neck was stiff for about two weeks until I could move my neck side to side with no problems.


LEFT: I looked like I got kicked in the side of the face by a mule. It wasn't pretty.

RIGHT: I think I had a slight discoloration on my temple. Other then that, I looked good.


LEFT: I was popping so many pills that knocked me out that I was having cat naps every two hours.

RIGHT: I was tired but not to the state of nap time. :)


LEFT: I didn't dare to drive until the sixth day. I cherished the fact that I had a driver license.

RIGHT: I was driving by day three despite the stiffness I had in my neck.

In conclusion, my right ear surgery and recovery went much smoother then the first one. It was so drastically different. Here I am two and half weeks post surgery and I am back to work full time. I went back to the gym doing light work outs. My incision is healing quite nicely. It really has been a super simple recovery. My activation is a week from today - April 2nd at 2pm.

The only gripe I have about this surgery is finding out that I am not as thick headed as I thought I was.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Order the Charity Book "I Don't Believe My Ears" Today!

The charity book project, I Don’t Believe My Ears, is finally completed after several months of assembling it together. Val Blakely from Cochlear Kids and Rachel Chaikof from Cochlear Implant Online would very much like to thank all these contributors who submitted wonderful and humorous stories:

Me :) at Chronicles of a Bionic Woman
Amy Kwilinski at and Auditory Verbal Parents
Ann Lovell
Beverly Spenser
Diane Beltrami
Jodi Cutler Del Dottore at An American Mom in Tuscany
Kara Hendrick
Kim Larsen at The ASL-Cochlear Implant Community
Kimberly Pendley at Can you hear me?
Leaf Leafler at Say What?
Leslie Hine at The Hine Family Est. 1996
Liz Hupp
Melissa Chaikof at Auditory Verbal Parents and Cochlear Implant Online
Melissa Krilosky at Our Journey to the Hearing World
Samantha Trueblood
Val Blakely at Cochlear Kids

All proceeds will go to Deafness Research Foundation, a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) that works to fund research to help those living with hearing loss and balance disorders, and on programs to raise awareness of potential causes to protect those at risk.

Go order one today and help create a difference for today’s generation and the future generation of deaf people and have some good laughs!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Officially Bilateral!!!

Today is day four of my recovery from my second cochlear implant and you will never guess where I am - I’m sitting at my desk at work, sipping on a cup of copper flavored coffee skillfully prepared by the professional coffee artisan across the street. I’m visually picturing you – my loyal readers – jaws dropping right about now.

But I am not kidding you.

I have been totally unenthusiastic about going bilateral even though I have a swarm of bilateral buddies swearing up and down that two is better then one. I would just nod in agreement just to hush them up. When I had my first cochlear implant surgery, I felt a sense of urgency to get it done. It was either to remain deaf or given the possibility to hear and I chose the latter. I had a rocky recovery with my first cochlear implant surgery and I was hesitant going through the whole ordeal again though I know the benefits far outweigh a few days of feeling as if I got ran over by a train. With that in the back of my mind, I had no immediate desire to go freely jumping on the bilateral bandwagon. But then you read studies like these:

Bilateral cochlear implants: A case when 2 are definitely superior to 1

Adult Bilateral Study PDF

And ponder if it is really worth it? But then, what did I have to lose? So I finally got a surgery date of March 9th and insurance approval for going bilateral a week before going under the knife.

On Monday, I had to report to a different building then my first surgery. It was a happy building - lots of shiny stuff that caught my eye. The sage green aesthetic calmed the most neurotic of patients. I had to be there around 9:30 and I was a little late, of course, but they still took me in anyway. They slapped the identification bracelets on me and made me get undressed. They let me keep my skivvies on because last time they demanded them off which is a bit embarrassing. :)

Just like last time, I gave the nurse one chance to get the IV in. I start practicing my lamaze breathing and pop she got it in on the first try. She decided to put the IV in my arm as opposed to my hands which has some thin veins. I had a horrific experiences where a nurse tried six times to put an IV in my hand. I ended up passing out and was put on oxygen. Hence the reason I have a rule in place, one shot and that it is.

Then the gas man with this unbearable accent came strolling in my little curtained in area. I get nauseous with anesthesia so I asked him to put some extra anti-nausea stuff in with my cocktail. However, I had such a hard time understanding him. He was Indian with a heavy British accent that had no desire to move his lips to enunciate. He just gave up with me and carried on talking to my friend as if they were a bunch of little old ladies about smart phones. After he left, I bawled out of sheer frustration. My favorite bilateral bionic babe, Jennifer managed to get my tears down to a mild drip just in time for my surgeon came in. He recapped the procedure as he marked my ear lobe with a teeny tiny X.

Shave some hair. Slice the ear open. Drill a well. Drill a hole. Slip the implant in there. Boot it up. Stitch me up and ship me home.

Super simple stuff – really.

Just before noon, they got smart and sent a native English speaking member of the anesthesiologist team this time to wheel me back to the OR. They were so kind to let my implant come along for the ride. It was similar to playing bumper cars on the way there. The chairs that they use don’t exactly go around curves well. With some narrow hit and misses, I hopped up on the table.

Then the gas mask came out. The last time they used the mask, I actually tried to rip it out because I felt as if I were making a mistake getting the implant. Silly me. This time, I felt at peace and drifted off.

The surgeon got all 16 electrodes in and stitched up by 2:30. I was told that the area where he wanted to place the implant was a little thin and that there was a hole already there (scratching head) but he spackled it. I will find out more about that hole that was in my head when I see him on March 17th to have the stitches removed. I woke up in recovery around four o’clock and it was worlds apart how I woke up the first time. I felt dopey as all hell. With the first surgery, I felt like a mack truck ran over my head and a bit dizzy. With this surgery, I didn’t feel any pain, pressure, dizziness or taste of metal. I hardly noticed the traditional turban but I was able to wear the cochlear implant over it.

Within a half hour, I was up and using the lavatory all by myself. I was drinking water and questioning on the ETA of my applesauce. They decided to inject some pretty potent pain medication in my IV which made everything wrong seem right in the world. They kicked me out of the hospital around five o’clock.

When we got home, I walked into Walgreens and drop my prescription off. After that, I plopped on the couch and got the royal treatment for the rest of the night. I mean - homemade spaghetti and meatballs with warm apple pie! You can’t go wrong with that! With my first one, I had no problem eating but I did have a problem with sleeping. I slept in a recliner to keep my head elevated but with this ear, I slept flat on my back.

The next day, the sadistic piece of gauze that was wrapped around my head a few hundred times came off. I was pleasantly surprised. I think my tears worked on my surgeon because he did not shave off nearly as much hair as he did before. Notice my picture of my first ear incision compared to my second ear.

Another pleasant surprise was that I got the good happy pills this time and not the generic version of Vicodin. I got some pretty white round pills of Oxycodone. With my last surgery, I was popping the two Vicodin every for hours. I take maybe one every 8 hours.

Yesterday was the dreaded day three of the recovery process. It is usually the day that most people feel really crappy. With my first ear, I felt horrible from day three to five but I felt disgustingly good. I have virtually no swelling whereas the last time my ear needed liposuction. It was gross. I woke up and started cleaning. I went for a drive and did a little grocery shopping. Just out of curiosity last night, I decided to dangle my magnet and see if it would attach itself and sure enough, it attached. That oughta tell you how much swelling I have. This recovery process is just so hard on me... :)

And today, I woke up with a slight metallic disturbance amidst my taste buds. This is new but it is not uncommon. I didn't have this with my first implant. It is pretty annoying and I find that really sugary substances like grapefruit and apples - do not taste good. Other then that, I'm feeling peachy...

Activation is on April 2nd!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bilateral Surgery Date...

I know it has been a while since I have brought good tidings to my blog. I have been poked, prodded and even had a sheep thrown at me as means to inquire into my whereabouts. The sheep did me in. But first, I like to take the time to thank the highly anticipated gazillion snowflakes that I will have to shovel and then risk life and limb to drive to work tomorrow for the time to sit and down and update this blog.

The breaking news that I have is that in a week on March 9th, I'm going bilateral. That's right folks, I am going under the drill again and getting my right ear implanted.

The countdown begins now.