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.

The Waiting Game Round #1

Tomorrow is surgery day.  I just want it to be over and done with!  Am not a fan of waiting and waiting and waiting when it comes to things like this.  🙂

It’s going to be weird knowing that I will no longer have the residual hearing I’ve always had (surgery damages it).  Even though I didn’t really have much, I had something.  That something is how I “heard” the world for over 20 years with hearing aids.  After tomorrow, I will no longer have something that was such a big part of my life for a long time.

Then again, I get super excited when I see things like this (bilateral audio cable).

I will be able to listen to music with both ears…..woot!  I love music and the thought of getting a “double-dose” of it makes me happy!

Am really hoping surgery goes as smoothly (or even better) as it did the first time around.  I didn’t have any major side effects, infections, complications, etc.  Am not looking forward to sitting around the house for the next few days (hoping it will only be a few days and not a few weeks).  I was one of those weird kids who hated staying home sick from school just because I got so antsy and bored.  I always end up having a frustrated combination of not wanting to do a single thing because I don’t feel good and being antsy at the same time.  I like feeling productive!

Hopefully the implant will be placed where it’ll be almost symmetrical to my other implant on the head.  Of course over time the implant sometimes shifts and sometimes the surgeon simply has to place the implant in the best place.  Am just hoping it won’t end up in a wacky position compared to my other implant.  😉

Am just wrapping up a few things here and there.  Am also taking advantage of activities to release some energy before I’ll have to lay around the house.  Went to my last sand volleyball game of the summer last night since I won’t be able to play in our last game next week.  Am looking forward to my last gymnastics class of the summer tonight, but am hoping to sign up for the fall session since I’ll miss the last 3 weeks of the summer session.  Will also miss out on a 5K this weekend (Dennis and Jeff, good luck!).  Sometimes a person has to make small sacrifices for something big that they really want, hopefully those will be the only sacrifices I will be making.

Am also looking forward to dinner with the parents tonight!

Pre-Registration and the Hunt for Soap

Need to pre-register online by noon tomorrow.

Looked for a regular old soap bar at Target today (see previous post) but didn’t have any luck.  So many scented and fancy soaps out there….what ever happened to simple unscented  antibacterial soap?

Also completed my EKG and bloodwork yesterday, I guess everything looks okay.

I forgot how much time is involved with just getting ready for surgery.

In the meantime am trying to get caught up with work stuff!

What’s Left to do for Surgery Day

I already got my painkiller and antibiotics Rxs filled.  So nice they let me take care of that before surgery instead of having to deal with it on the way home from surgery.

Was told to stop taking Omega-3 Fish Oil (was taking them with my vitamins) until my surgeon gives me the ok  after surgery.

Need to purchase a regular old-fashioned Dial bar soap.  I need to shower (no shaving!) the morning before surgery with antibacterial soap.  That and a combination of not wearing make-up or lotion in addition to wiping down with wipes they give you before surgery helps prevent post-surgery infections.

Gotta go to the area hospital sometime this week for an EKG and bloodwork.

May or may not need a Pneumovex vaccination booster.

Gotta remember no food, drink, or gum after midnight Thursday night/Friday morning!