Post-Op Appointment

I took the tape off this morning and took a nice refreshing shower!  Even though I was able to wash about 80% of my hair without getting the tape/incision wet, it felt sooo good to finally wash every single hair strand after a week!

The surgeon said that everything looks great.  He did recommend waiting a few more weeks before I return to all activities.  However, I can go swimming!  Am glad I can get some pool time during this heat wave even though I will probably avoid putting my ears in the water for a few more days.  I’m still having some popping along with achy ear and am prone to swimmer’s ear…..swimmer’s ear is the last thing I need to mess with right now.

He wasn’t too concerned about the ear popping, headaches, and earaches I’ve had on and off all week.  The frequency and pain level has reduced gradually over the last few days.   He wasn’t worried about the numbness on the tip of my ear (I can’t remember if I had that with my first CI or not although there was an area on my lip and tongue that was numb for 1-2 months due to the breathing tube).  My throat is still a little bit sore from the breathing tube but not bad.  Neck and jaws are slightly sore but not to the degree where it prevents me from driving or eating.

The surgeon was also surprised at how much my hair grew in a week.  😉

I would say overall, recovery this time around has been easier than the first time.  I actually lost some weight the first surgery because my jaws were so stiff and sore that I couldn’t eat much.

I would also say that the incision from the first CI surgery healed up a bit nicer than this one but am still pleased with the job that my surgeon did (props to him!).  The incision this time around is closer to the back of the ear than the first one.  There was also minimum blood on the tape when I took it off compared to the first CI.

Am finally done with all the antibiotics and stopped taking painkillers Wednesday afternoon.  So glad to be done with those pills after popping about 50-55 of them in 7 days.

I would say I’m about 80% back to the normal Kelly (which might not be that “normal”  😉 ).

Below is a picture from my first CI surgery (left ear) back in March 2009….this was taken about 8 days after surgery.

Below are a couple of pictures from last week’s surgery (right ear).

11 more days until activation day! Can’t wait!!!

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

I wasn’t going to blog because I figure who really wants to know all the deettaiills of recovery which is probably kind of boring.  I also don’t want to sound like I’m whining or complaining.  I’m not at all, I just would have found it helpful if people shared more of their surgery and recovery experiences.  Plus, I tend to forget stuff and it’s nice to go back and refresh my memory.

Today started off really good and then it ended kind of blahh.

I woke up bright and early before my alarm even went off which was such a big difference compared to the past few days.  I didn’t even take a nap at all today!  I made it until 9:30pm without having to take any painkillers.

I went on a short walk, caught up on emails, and worked a bit.  I even drove for the first time since surgery to run a couple of errands.  Tara, Chris, and Dylan wanted to go swimming and I needed to socialize a bit.  I met up with them at the pool for about 45 minutes.  Don’t worry, I didn’t swim.  I just sat in the shade, dangled my feet in the water, and wore a baseball cap to cover up my messy hair.

Other than that, I took it easy and went at a slow pace today.

Around 5:30 pm is when it all started going downhill.  I started feeling miserable, my 3 days headache that I thought was finally gone came back, and I started having sharp shooting pain along with drainage from the ear (NOT supposed to happen). I finally caved in and emailed my audiologist around 7:30pm.  She replied within 5 minutes!  She asked some more questions about the drainage and pain I was feeling.  She then contacted my surgeon and got a reply within half an hour.  How great is that, after hours care?!

Basically, right now…my surgeon thinks that it may be the saline draining (yes, 4-5 day old saline) out of my ear.  When they prepped me for surgery, they used brown betadine solution and some gets in the ear canal so they flush the ear canal with saline after surgery to get it all out.   Btw, I got an answer to my other question….the fact that the tip of my ear is currently numb is normal.

Just gotta keep a close eye on it and contact my audiologist if the pain becomes worse or if the color of the drainage changes.

So far the painkiller has helped a lot and the drainage has reduced.  Am feeling much better now.

Overall, this recovery is going smoothly and much better than the first time around….and I thought the first time went fairly well.

Am looking forward to lunch with Morgan and Gretchen tomorrow.  Then am hoping to make it out to the last sand volleyball game of the season to watch my team play (no worries, I’m not going to play).  It does a person some good to get out and socialize to get their mind off of things.  Other than that, I’ll be working away the day.

Am looking forward to giving these socks to Morgan (inside joke).  😀

I Can Wait to Wash My Hair

I was reminded that the reason why one cannot wash their hair for a week is because of the tape.

Tape is used instead of staples/stitches and is the only thing holding the incision together on the outside (there are stitches underneath the skin).  This is the reason why one cannot get it wet for a week and I by far prefer tape over staples/stitches.

Now that I have visions of the incision bursting open if I take the tape off…..I’m a lot more patient and willing to wait the 7 whole days before I can take it off and wash that area.  🙂

Essential Item: Shower Cap

If you’re going to have a cochlear implant surgery be sure you invest in a shower cap.  You won’t be able to wash your hair for about a week….

With my first CI I was able to master the art of wearing a shower cap on half of my head while washing the other half.

I sent my audiologist an email asking if the numbness on the tip of my right ear is something I should worry about.  I also asked her if there’s any chance I can wash my hair sometime soon….I like being squeaky clean  🙂

There’s something about shower caps that remind me of synchronized swimmers and those swimmers are pretty doggone impressive!

Three Days Post-Surgery

I still have a headache, boo!  At least it comes and goes and isn’t as bad as it was yesterday.

Other than that, I took it really easy today.  Watched TV and napped quite a bit today.

I did get to walk Mojo, yay!

The swelling seems to have gone down some but the tip of the right ear is numb.  :-/

15 more days until activation day!

Two Days Post-Surgery

Today has been a mixture of feeling great and feeling awful.  It didn’t help that I had an headache on and off.

The top right side of my neck is swollen and I have a sensation of fullness in my ear.  Not sure if it’s a bunch of drainage going on…gross, I know.

Dennis rescued me from spending a whole day sitting in the same chair in the living room in front of the TV.  Today went something like this…

Sat on his couch for a bit before heading out to Five Guys Burger and Fries…

Stopped by a nearby doggie daycare to watch the big dogs play outside (we stayed in the car)….

Ate lunch….

Walked around Michael’s…..

Visited Gretchen at her work….

Stopped by the doggie daycare again to watch the small dogs play outside….

Watched TV, hung out with his cats, slept….repeated about 5 times for a few hours…..

Took a 15 minute walk…..

Made dinner…..


Went home.

Just what I needed, a change in scenery!

What Happens During a Cochlear Implant Surgery?

It’s easy to find video clips of cochlear implant surgeries online but they’re usually long and they don’t always explain what’s going on during the surgery.

I watched a bunch of videos before I had my first CI surgery because I have an interest in the medicine field and I wanted to know what exactly was going to happen once I went under the knife!  Although I know many people aren’t comfortable viewing videos like those.

I ran across this website last night and thought it had a nice visual description of what happens during a CI surgery.  It’s short, straight-forward, and isn’t gory (illustrations instead of videos/photos).  I also appreciated that it wasn’t over-simplified like many descriptions I have read online.

Scroll down to the bottom of the website to view the 7-slide presentation.

Bandage is OFF!

Feels so good to finally have the gauze and bandage off, it was on way too tight causing unnecessary extra pain and discomfort.  Due to the position of the bandage the left ear was actually starting to hurt more than the right ear….and the right one is the one that just had surgery.

Here are a few pictures.  You can see the outline of where the bandage was and you can see how flattened the right ear was.  Ignore my just woke-up-messy-hair-no-make-up-just-had-surgery look.  Looks like there was minimum bleeding as well, I had more bleeding with the first CI.  They didn’t shave off much hair either, woot!

I get to wash my hair and take the strips off in a week….

I was able to get some sleep last night even though I woke up every 2 hours.  I am having some moments where I feel light-headed but am chalking that up to the painkiller medicine and not eating enough.  No vertigo or balance issues, yay!!!  Had some scrambled eggs this morning and tried a piece of bacon.  That bacon tasted delicious even though I had to break it into tiny pieces since it hurts a little bit to chew.

Am looking forward to Dennis coming over later tonight to watch a movie.  I even put in a request for Mountain Dew later this afternoon!  A BIG thank you to my parents who stayed with me for 24 hours, cooked me dinner last night, and made me breakfast this morning!

Surgery Day

Am so glad surgery is over with!  I was really nervous about it all and didn’t get much sleep last night.

Surgery was first thing in the morning but I had folks to keep me awake and relaxed until I was taken into the operating room.  Jeff (interpreter, aka scuba diving instructor), Tanner (interpreter intern who is also a friend of mine), Dennis, my mom, and my dad all showed up.   It was so nice to have people chatting about things other than the surgery to distract me!

I signed a bunch of consent forms and answered the same medical history intake questions over and over with about 5-6 different nurses/anesthesiologist/surgeon.  They got the IV in on the first try this time–yay!

I actually don’t remember “falling asleep,” the last thing I remember is a mask being put on me (I assume for anesthesia).

Surgery took about  2-3 hours without any complications and went really well.

I must have woken up just as they pulled the breathing tube out of me.  I don’t remember seeing or feeling the breathing tube but something affected my breathing pattern enough that it made me panic a bit.  I was still out of it and was unable to communicate due to the influence of anesthesia.  Between my experience with asthma, the fact that the last thing I saw was a mask, the removal of the breathing tube, confusion, and the change in my breathing pattern all at once made me think I was having serious  problems breathing (I wasn’t).  It scared me.

I thought maybe surgery had been cancelled because of breathing issues.  The anesthesia wore off as I was wheeled out of the operating room to the recovery room and I was able to process the situation a bit better.  It was then that I realized me panicking was affecting my ability to catch my breath and that surgery was over.  I was able to calm myself down before the nurses became concerned and I looked up at the clock.

It was 10:40 am (I was wheeled into the OR about 7:40 am and surgery started around 8 am) which is almost exactly the same time I remember the first CI surgery being over at.  Things were perfectly fine after I stopped letting my imagination run away once again.

I got the a-ok to leave after they checked to make sure there was no facial nerve damage and all my vital signs looked great.

I got home around noon where I just kind of sat around, watched TV, dozed off every hour, and took it easy.  The left ear is actually a bit tender to touch due to the placement of the bandage and to being on that side while the right ear was being implanted.  The right ear feels all smashed up against the side of my face due to the bandage.  I do have some pain but for the most part it’s been manageable.

I. Can’t. Wait. To. Get. The. Bandage. Off.  I think it’s a source of some of the pain and discomfort…although it does protect it against being banged against the chair/bed when I move around.

Am also having some popping in the newly implanted ear which is normal right after surgery.

I’ve been eating pudding and Mac & Cheese which is amazing compared to the first time around.  My throat/mouth was extremely dry and mouth was numb in additional to extreme stiffness of the jaw/face with my first CI.  With the first CI, it took me 5 minutes to get ONE goldfish into my mouth, chew it and then I couldn’t even swallow it because my mouth/throat was so dry.  I currently have some stiffness, mild sore throat, and mild pain with chewing hence the soft food.

Am hoping to get some sleep tonight and that the pain level doesn’t get any worse (I would rank it a 4-5 on a scale of 10).  Overall, I’m pleased with how surgery went and am thankful I got to head home immediately afterwards.

Activation Day is August 9th.

Picture of my insides! Left picture is where he drilled a small (very small) hole in the cochlea for the cochlear implant. Right picture is the edge of the implant after placement.

Thank you to everyone who sent texts, emails, and Facebook messages.  Your support meant a lot, you put a smile on my face today.  It made things easier.