Monday, June 17, 2013

My Cochlear Implant Surgery Plus One Week
Monday,  June 17, 2013

Just about this time last week, I was being wheeled into surgery to receive my Cochlear Implant.  About this time two weeks ago, I was being wheeled down to Pre-Op to be prepared for surgery to repair my broken elbow, which I broke in a fall while working in my yard.  In many ways it has been difficult to separate the recovery of one from the other. 

Now, looking back, I believe that the surgery for the Cochlear Implant has been a breeze as far as recovery.  The main reason we gladly accepted Vickey's offer to come help after the Cochlear surgery was the varied POSSIBLE side effects.  Thankfully, I have had none of them.  OK, a couple in a very minor way.  One that has been a minor problem is taste.  There is the possibility of loss of taste.  As
with most of the possible side effects, they are usually temporary as swelling in the surgery area affects nerves.  I have found that things do not taste just right.  That is a shame as friends and family have brought food and Vickey has cooked for us.  But is minor. 

Other possible problems include nausea and dizziness.  Thankfully these have not been a problem at all.  Another possible problem is damage to facial nerves.  That has not been a problem.  There can be discomfort in the ear.  This has been one of the minor issues.  Wind, or cold air blowing on that ear has caused mild discomfort, but much of that was just concern that there could be a problem.  Once Ron checked with the nurse and I reviewed some information on the surgery, my fears were put to rest.

Of course the main thing that has changed is my hearing.  Until the implant is activated, I have NO hearing in my left ear.  The right one  had been so bad for so long that I had not been trying to use it until about the last month.  I am using the amplifier on that ear.  I can tell someone is talking, but I understand little of what is said.  This morning before Vickey was up the phone rang several times (I have a flashing light on it so I knew it was ringing).  Knowing I could not hear the caller I ignored it for a while, but finally picked it up and said, "I am deaf.  I cannot hear you.  Please don't keep calling." 

So for the implant surgery, other than the general weakness that anyone has after surgery, I haven't had to depend on Vickey too much.  Where I have needed her is related to the elbow surgery.  I am pretty helpless with one hand.  She has been helping to dress me, but today I remembered an old bra that fastens in the front and managed to dress myself.  I let Vickey sleep late so I could see if I could take care of myself.  I managed to clean the incision (I am to do that 3 times a day and then medicate it).  Then I washed my hair (with a lot more shampoo than necessary since I couldn't pour it in the other hand and instead squirted it directly on my hair).  I was just ready to medicate the ear when Vickey came in and I let her do it.  I believe I could have done it, but might get the medicine on twice as big an area as needed.


One-handed, it is difficult to get things out of the refrigerator that are heavy.  Some larger items may not be heavy but are bulky.  I really battled with the can opener a few days ago and finally had to ask for help.  I am not to bend down, so that makes getting pots and pans out of their cabinet, a challenge. 

Even opening anything with a twist off lid works much better with two hands.  I can't drive.  I know I can't steer most of the damaged shopping carts at the stores.  I can't lift a bag of bird seed.  I have not yet figured out how to sew, but once Vickey's sewing project is taken home with her, I am sure I won't be able to resist the call of my sewing machine. 

Sunday afternoon, Vickey and I spent time in the kitchen.  Bob had requested that I help her make chicken fried steak and chocolate frosting that would "taste like Mom's".  So I managed to prove that I could prepare a meal (almost by myself).

But I did find that I was unable to carry out an old habit involving "taste testing."  Apparently over the years I have used my finger on my left hand to test things and every time I did that, out of habit, I ran into problems.  I can't reach my mouth with my left hand!

When you are a patient in the hospital, thenurses seem to be obsessed with your bodily functions.  This has led to many jokes over the years.  There are good reasons for this preoccupation they seem to have, as I was reminded in the last few days.  Lying inactive in a hospital bed, being sedated for surgery, taking pain medications, sleeping a lot and consequently not eating and drinking at the times and in the normal amounts, can throw off your system.  Add in that I had been on heavy doses of anti-histamines to keep my lungs clear for surgery and it just all caught up with me.  Finally, I am back on track and feeling better.

All of this is to say that the Cochlear Implant surgery has been a breeze - especially when compared to the broken elbow.  I go to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to get the staples out from that surgery and hopefully be allowed some use of that arm.  It is 2 more weeks until I see the ear surgeon.  Things are progressing and I guess we will put Vickey on her plane tomorrow.  We will miss her help, but I know Bob has really missed her.  She has been a blessing.

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