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!


Sam said...

So sounds like you had a rather ho-hum surgery. I m glad you came through with flying colors. And now it gets better but just wait till you are turned on....its gonna ROCK, BABE!

Steve said...

Good to know it went well. The anaesthetist must have watched too many episodes of "House".

I found your blog very useful in making the decision to get a CI. Lots of good pointers. I hope you keep it up!

Laurie said...

Abbie! You look and sound great! So glad you are doing so well! Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Oh Abbie, I've been out of touch and had no idea! Gorgeous incision you've got there -- I can't imagine anyone but you making both the pre-surgery gear look high-fashion and the post-surgery swaddling look positively glamorous. So very glad you are going so well. And you know we're true believers in going bilateral, so I fully expect you'll love the results.

About that hole in your head, though ....?! take care, Beth

Anonymous said...

Fantastic - congrats for going Bilateral. You are truly a bionic woman!

You get switched on 2nd April - I get switched on for hte 3rd tim 22nd April - My surgery date is 30 March :)


Anonymous said...

Awesome photos! I can relate to the IV problem. Oy! The first pic made me shudder. So glad you're up and about and feeling better!

Bionic Wombat said...

wicked - I know that feeling, been there done that and its the best move going bilateral - check out my blog too

Wayne said...

At least Great Adventure is not open yet, otherwise you'd be riding one of the extreme rides this weekend.

You are doing great and looking forward to hearing all about April 2nd.

Valerie said...

Everything looks great. I hope you are enjoying sometime to relax. Just wait until the surround sound.

Anonymous said...

Abbie, this is so awesome!! Your incision looks fantastic, girl. :) I can't believe you're back to work already -- wow!

I am so, so glad your surgery went so well and your recovery is breezing by...yay!!

You look beautiful, as always. Here's to April 2nd! :)

~ Wendi

Anonymous said...

Im glad everything went well!! Me on the other hand --- still struggling -- the incision busted open again and they're suspecting it was the sutures. :( I will know for sure from my reg ENT doc on Wednesday the 18th whether if I will need surgery or not to correct this. :(

Cristin said...

Just watched your activation video... that is so cool... My son is 6 years old and profoundly Deaf, he wears hearing aids and signs and a CI could very possibly be in his (our) future...

I'm glad to have 'met' you, you are gorgeous and I wish you all the best!

Jennifer said...

I am so proud of you, my dear bilateral bionic belle! Welcome to the club :). The hardest part is the fun starts! I am so excited to see what's ahead for you! :) ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

Dang, girl, I was eating some chocolate while reading-- I definitely don't recommend that!

Glad you've bounced back quickly this time and hugs!

David said...

Abbie it sounds like it swimmingly well. I am excited for you and happy.
David said...

good luck with going bilateral!! :)

Jennifer Bruno Conde said...

Woo-hoo, Abbie!

I'm thrilled for you and will be awaiting a post after your April 2nd activation date! You have led the way on inspiring us with regard to Amanda's CI!

And I'm SURE you'll get to the bottom of that "hole in the head" situation! Clue us in when you do. :-)

Jennifer ♥

Anonymous said...

Abbie, I'm very excited for you! So glad the surgery is over and you're quickly on the mend. My second ear didn't have the same initial "wow" factor as the first one. But over time, it has just made life so much easier. With two cochlear implants I hear from farther away and can hear many more sounds than before. The best part is that hearing comes so much more naturally, there is less effort going into listening now. :) I know you're going to do so well and I can't wait to hear all about it soon.