Day 3 post-op

Day 3 post-op

Well, they say things usually get worse before they get better, and that seems to be the case with me today. The pain meds I was taking were driving me insane with itchiness so at 4am, I decided I wouldn’t take it anymore. Not a smart move on my part. The itchiness subsided, but having no other good pain meds, I was left with extra strength Tylenol. I was prescribed 650 mg but my pills were 500 mg so this left me a bit shy on my dosage. Hubby was finally able to get a new prescription for Tylenol 3s but only got it around 3:30pm. This left me for most of the day with a sub dosage of extra strength Tylenol to keep the pain at bay. I don’t think I really appreciated the intricacies of pain management. Everyone said stay on top of it for the first few days, even if it doesn’t feel that bad. Now I get it. Once the pain grabs a foothold, it doesn’t like to let go. I’m borderline going out of my mind right now, either the pain or maybe the withdrawal from the other pills, but it’s not a pleasant experience. I’m very impatiently waiting for the two Tylenol 3s to take effect. Hoping I’m able to sleep tonight though. 

With the increased pain, I noticed a corresponding decrease in my attitude. Funny how that works. I found myself getting aggravated at the slightest things. The way my socks felt on my feet, the pressure of the chair on the back of my head. A squirminess that won’t let me sit still. Probably effects of coming off those other drugs. Still my hubby is amazing and answers my every whim. When I couldn’t bear to sit in the recliner any longer, he brought his behemoth rocker for me to lounge in. This is sort of a running joke here because it’s his favorite chair and I always tease him that it’s not so great. Well, that issue is now settled and buried in the back 40. His chair is way better! It may have found a permanent residence in our living room now. 

I managed a brief shower this morning. While I couldn’t wash my hair (oh, how I’d love to) I was able to wash the yucky hospital feeling away. That felt good. I just have another 11 days to go before I can wash my hair. Yikes, that’s really not going to be pretty. The drainage has stopped so at least I don’t have to deal with that. However, I can tell there’s fluid in my ear. When I tip my head slightly towards my implanted ear, it feels like the fluid is going to make its way through my sinuses and come out my eye. Gross, I know, but I never said I would sugar coat my journey for you. The other really great unpleasantry? Constipation and bloating. Been eating tons of fiber, but my system is shut down tighter than Alcatraz. Maybe that’s got something to do with my irritability. Hubby bought me some fiber pills so we’ll see if that gets the show on the road. 

I do try to keep in good spirits through all this. I know that this is all temporary. Like labour, there’s pain and discomfort at the beginning but once you hold that child in your arms, the pain just melts away and is quickly forgotten. I think my activation will be very much like welcoming a little bundle of joy (without the dirty diapers & sleepless nights)! 24 days to activation!

My “oh so pretty” bandage…
Day 2 Post-Op

Day 2 Post-Op

I’m happy to say that the discharge has pretty much stopped, but the pain is still pretty bad. More ear pain now than neck pain. Actually, it feels very much like I have an ear infection – the pressure and pain is quite similar. I’m still taking pain pills every 4 hours and finding the pain starts hitting around the 3rd hour. I keep hoping I’ll be able to push it to 6 hours, but no go yet. 

Last night was a long night again – awakened at least every hour. I’d look at the clock hoping that more than an hour had passed since I last checked only to see the minutes slowly ticking by. Strange how time seems so much slower in the night when you can’t sleep. Today my face/neck/head seem to be quite swollen. I think I’m going to have a doozy of a bruise on my neck & ear. I’m still itchy all over! Way worse than yesterday. That’s part of the reason I had difficulty sleeping last night, I think. It’s like I have an army of little ants crawling all over my body. Google says that this is apparently a reaction to the anesthetic. Popped a Benadryl to see if that helps with the itchiness, but forgot how much I dislike taking that stuff. Makes me feel like I’m on a cheap trip. Foggy brain all over again. Gonna have to decide which is easier to live with, the itchiness or the foggy brain. 

My whole mouth feels weird, almost numb. Still have the metallic taste so everything tastes the same. It’s even difficult to distinguish textures and temperatures. Been sticking with soft foods; soups, apple sauce, pudding, jello, etc. Made the mistake of trying to eat wheat thins, but the crunching was very painful. I also can’t open my mouth very far, so it’s little bites for the next while. 

I find myself imagining what it’s going to be like when I’m finally activated. I know things won’t sound the way I remember and that I will have to work hard to relearn how to hear, but there is so much promise there, it’s hard not to get carried away. I wonder if the implant will eventually sound better than my hearing aids ever did. One can hope! I will say it’s still creepy when I think of the wires stuck in my head! Creepy, yet miraculous! I’m so blessed to have this opportunity to hear again. 💕

My Journey to Sound

My Journey to Sound

Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow I become the Bionic woman, I join the CIborg collective, I get my first (hopefully not the only) cochlear implant. I won’t lie; I’m as nervous as H – E – double hockey sticks. I don’t like the idea of surgery to begin with, but the thought of having wires installed in my head is, frankly, kind of creepy. That being said, the chance to be able to hear again is a huge driving force for me. 

So, what is a cochlear implant, you ask? To put it simply, it’s like prosthetic ears. It’s rather quite amazing in actuality. A cochlear implant is the only technology in existence at the moment that can functionally restore one of the 5 senses. What I find remarkable, is that this technology has been around since the 80’s! In fact, my cousin was one of the first to ever receive a CI. Back then, he had to wear the processor on his belt or in his pocket, like a Walkman (remember those?) and he had a wire connecting the processor to his headpiece. Now, they are so compact, most people won’t notice I’m wearing it. Oh, and by the way – I’m the last in my family to get a CI –  two of my brothers have them (one is bimodal and one is bilateral) and 3 of my cousins are part of the CIBorg collective. I guess you could say it’s hereditary and my family has blazed the trail well for me to follow suit. I even chose the same brand of implant – Advanced Bionics

The way it works is a microphone captures the sound and transmits it to the external processor (looks like a big hearing aid) which converts the sound into digitally coded signals. The headpiece (small magnetized external component) which is magnetically aligned over the implant, receives the signals from the processor and then rapidly sends the signals through the skin as radio waves to the implant. The implant receives the signals and interprets them and then sends a specialized pattern of electrical currents down through the electrical array into the cochlea where the implant emits it as electrical stimulation pulses to the nerve receptors (similar to the work of the tiny hairs in a person with normal hearing) in the cochlea. 

I’ve been profoundly deaf for almost 4 months now. Totally deaf in my right ear with 110db hearing in my left, and let me tell you, that amount of hearing doesn’t do much. Without a hearing aid in my left ear, I hear nothing. With my hearing aid, I can hear some sounds and speech is likened to an episode of Charlie Brown when the teacher is talking. Prior to losing all my hearing in my right ear, I was classed as severe to profoundly deaf. I always struggled, but managed to get by. While I had to rely heavily on speech-reading (aka lip reading), I could still enjoy music and obviously hear things happening around me. Life is so much more different without sound.

It’s important to note that a cochlear implant does not cure deafness. I will always be deaf but the cochlear implant will allow me to hear again, as long as I wear the external processor. I may never gain the fully functional hearing of someone without hearing loss, but with a lot of practice and training, I hope to be able to carry on a conversation without lip reading, enjoy a movie without captions, talk on the phone, and maybe even enjoy music again! That hope is what inspires me to undergo the surgery.