Friday, February 15, 2008

Six of One

Friday, three days post-surgery, and I feel fine!

Not strong, exactly, and still a bit light-headed, but I haven't had to take any pain medications yet today. I took Andy for a short half-mile walk and the sun felt really nice.

I had my hair cut off---very short buzz cut---in anticipation of downtime during which I would not be able to shower. That worked out great; I can clean my scalp with a washcloth and feel nice and clean, and I don't have to worry about drowning the incision site. Guys, I highly recommend it.

I don't remember anything between the anetheseologist saying "you'll feel a bit light-headed" in the pre-op room and waking up about eight hours later in post-op. Susie says I was concious when they wheeled me to the surgery room, but I sure don't remember that at all.

Taking the pressure bandage off this morning, three days after surgery, was such a relief.

Here's a hint: if you're uncomfortable and can't sleep, take the narcotics. They help a lot. It's not a contest to see how long you can do without the drugs. I can see how people might get addicted to these painkillers.

I also used one of those airplane pillows, the ones that look like a horsecollar. I was able to arrange this so I could sleep on my side as well as my back (even my non-operative ear was very sore from the pressure bandage).

My new name in the collective will be "Six of One".

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

By Your Command

Oops, mixing up my sci-fi. I'm back from the hospital and hanging around at home. No real pain, just some general discomfort; maybe that's just the narcotics speaking.

They said I was a "cheap date", but the I didn't see the cocktail they mixed. It was potent though; when I woke up I was chatty Cathy.

But the electronics are in, and in the big picture that is the important thing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Well, I Asked For It!

I had pretty much made up my mind to go forward with the cochlear implant in December, but I decided to make my final decision during the annual trip to Carmel that my wife, I, and the little yellow Lab take every New Year's. The time in Carmel is marvelous to clear the cobwebs, eliminate the thousand pressing details of this modern life and just focus on what's really critical. During that time it was clear to me that moving forward with this device, my hearing, and my life, was the right thing to do.

When I got in to Kaiser in early January to schedule the surgery, they told me they were booked up for the next three months, and to come back in February to see what was available. I can't say I was shocked, as I've read on the various mailing lists and discussion groups about people waiting very long times, sometimes six months and more, for the surgery, but I have to admit I was crestfallen. Perhaps I whined a little, but I would never admit it.

As February approached, I grew concerned that someone would beat me to the punch, grab the next available date for surgery, and I'd be pushed back even further, so I complained to my audiologist, to my wife, to my surgeon, even to poor little Andy who, being a Labrador, was extremely sympathetic. Labs are good that way. My surgeon wrote back and told me if I had any difficulty, just to talk with her that day because she would be in.

So I was there, waiting, in the waiting room, very first day of February, practically as soon as the doors opened. I did it for rock concerts when I was a kid; certainly I can do it cochlear implant surgery (and, I'd be guaranteed front-and-center seating!) I figured best case would be May sometime, but I was steeling myself to be pushed off again. I figured, maybe a pediatric case showed up (it's very important children are implanted early so they can develop language), maybe someone deafer than me. But I'd do all I could. You can't win the game if you don't play.

So finally, called into the office where they schedule surgery. The young lady asked my name, looked at the schedule, and said "How does February 12th sound?"

My heart almost stopped. I was so anxious to get this done, to have this chance to hear again, to be further along this journey, and so sure that I would have to wait, wait, wait. When she said February 12th, I was so happy! Calmly, I said, "That would work just fine," took my paperwork, and got out of there.

I was singing all the way home. (You never want to hear a deaf man sing.)

Today I went in for my pre-operative appointment. Apparently the wonderful people at ENT 296, Kaiser Santa Clara, had huddled together and figured out a way to make it happen soon for me. Above and beyond. These people are great.

Anyway, door just opened, wife is home, time to do family stuff, and go to sleep; at this time tomorrow I'll have some transistors *inside* me. Can't lift more than five pounds for two weeks; great excuse to slack off those weight training sessions at the Y. Family calls.

Monday, February 4, 2008

I'm Getting a Cochlear Implant

Over the past several months I've been exploring a new way to deal with my diminishing hearing. My audiologist at Pacific Hearing suggested I investigate cochlear implants, and the good folks at Kaiser Permanente have agreed to foot the bill. I am going in for surgery on the 12th of February, 2008, and my activation will take place on March 4th.

I am not taking this step lightly; I have been studying papers and reading books on this technology now for a long time, and I am absolutely blown away. While not everyone does well, enough people obtain such amazing results that this particular device has to be categorized without hesitation as a miracle.

I have always been fiercely independent, doing things my way, always figuring things out on my own (for better and for worse). The fact that Kaiser is purchasing this incredibly expensive device for me, and committing the professional resources for the surgery and all the follow-up care---just blows me away. These people are absolutely miracle workers.