Friday, November 14, 2003

Reflections on recovery from CI surgery

I suppose that implant procedures have changed quite a bit since my surgery 3 years ago. My post-surgery agenda did not include a post doctor's appointment. I had surgery early in the morning and was home in my own bed by evening, armed with pain medication, antibiotics, suppositories if needed for nausea or vertigo, a huge bandage secured by a velcro-type head strap that was not to be removed for a week, ointment for the incision, and advice to sleep with lots of pillows to keep my head elevated.

On the afternoon of my surgery when we made the long drive home from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to our home in Virginia (100+ miles), I began to feel something wet on my neck. A trickle of blood was leaking out from under my thick bandage - - - not pleasant. I was never so glad to arrive home and get in my own bed!

Recovery from surgery varies a great deal from person to person. For me, I experienced some soreness on the left side when chewing food, and food had a metallic taste for awhile. I blew my nose very gently one time during the first week, and really regretted that! I wished I'd been told how painful that can be!

I also remember my hair "hurting" on the implant side when out in the wind that first week. I was implanted in my "deaf" ear, so I could wear my hearing aid during the month of waiting for hook-up, so could stay somewhat tuned into those around me. Sleeping was not pleasant for at least a week, until I could sleep on both sides again and could do away with the elevated head position.

I also experienced a lot of "noises" in my head while healing --- you know, tinnitus sounds, like rain on a metal roof, a ratchet being rotated slowly, even sounds similar to a radio being on when there was no such thing in the room. Crazy, huh? Tinnitus is common, but not all CIers have the concert of internal sound that was my experience.

I had absorbable stitches, so had no need to go back to the surgeon for removal. My "hook-up" appointment was exactly one month from surgery date, at which time the swelling was minimal enough for the magnet to adhere to the internal components. Funny the things you remember . . . like how great it was to wash my hair and to get that strap off my forehead!

I took it easy those first few days and did not venture outside the house until the weekend. I do remember being a little dizzy on that first day out and about. Unfortunately, I had a 2-day bout with vertigo two weeks after surgery, but no re-occurrence since then, thank the Lord. As I recall, the head noises (tinnitus) were not painful, just bothersome at night, waking me up every time I turned my head, but not too bad during the day.

As I think back on that period between surgery and hook-up, I would say it was a good time for me. Apart from the normal process of physical healing after such a surgery, it was a restful, quiet time and an exciting time of great anticipation. I read a super book called "Hear Again" by Arlene Romoff and attempted to prepare myself for the "work" of learning to hear again that I knew was ahead of me. I was blessed to have time off from teaching and no pressing deadlines or obligations. Gerry and I went on a weekend retreat to "Cue Camp" to learn cued speech . . . but that's another story for another time.