A little more than 2 weeks ago (February 28) I had a Cochlear Implant surgery in both of my ears. I am starting to feel better now so it must be time to put words to the many experiences I had in relation to the surgery and the following days. All of the days I have written notes on my experiences so there are a lot of things to write about 🙂 In this first post I will tell about my experiences from the day of the surgery and the following day.
The day of surgery – day 1
I had just fallen asleep and slept for max 1-2 hours when my alarm clock decided that it was time to get up at 4.30 in the morning and get a shower. It was very tough to start this early on an almost sleepless night. I had to be at the hospital at 6.30 so my mother and I had to get up this early. My mom wanted to drive me to the hospital and stay at my apartment for the first days after the surgery.
At the hospital I was instantly guide to the room that I should be at. I got my own room and therefore didn’t have to share it with another patient – that was nice. I was quickly asked if I had taken some Panodil pills (pain killers) – I hadn’t so the nurse brought me 2 of them that I should take. After that she brought me some hospital clothing – not exactly the latest fashion 😉
When had gotten this loose clothe on I had to get the hair removed in the areas where the surgery should happen. This was quickly done and I also got the nurse to remove a little more hair than necessary to make it look a little better. But it really wasn’t a nice haircut…
After that I was talking with my mom before the surgery at 8 o’clock. 20 minutes before the surgery a hospital porter came to drive me to the surgery room. It was a strange feeling to be driven down there as I felt fresh like an eagle. I had a feeling that it was totally wrong to lie down – I was not ill and didn’t need to lie down so I chose to sit up in my bed. The porter drove my bed down to the hall in from of the surgery room where I should have my surgery. I guess I waited for 5-15 minutes – it was hard to determine time. But nevertheless the time went fine and I did not feel nervous – just a little anxious. I spent the time at observing that people was busy – the clock was just about 8 and that is the time where all surgeries start so all of the staff was running around in the hall. I nodded to a few and could see that they were preparing my surgery room. It was in some sense relaxing to sit there and look forward to get it done – even though I also had a feeling that I could not really understand what I was about to have done – not just in the surgery room but also afterwards.
When the waiting time was over the surgeon and a couple of nurses came out of the surgery room and walked to me. They were kind and asked me to tell them my social security number after which I was asked to follow them into the surgery room. As I entered the room there was quickly 3-4 people ready to shake hands and introduce them self to me. At this moment I cannot remember who exactly they were as I did not really find that important in the situation – but I think that it was the anesthetist and a couple of nurses. I was then asked to lie on the operating table. After a few adjustments I felt that I was quite comfortable and in safe hands of the nice staff which also seemed to focus on making this a nice and relaxed experience for me. One of the nurses for instance asked if I had to use muscles to keep my right arm on the table – I didn’t. But she wrapped the arm in some paper so that my arm could not fall down – it felt like being wrapped in a nice blanket 🙂
I then had a drop in my left hand – it didn’t hurt much – but I could feel it. They gave me some saltwater in the drop and I could feel that the vein got a little cold – but it was not uncomfortable. All the way through they were nice and told me what they were going to do before doing it.
After a little while I had to enter narcosis and they therefore put a mask over my nose in which I should breathe. The doctor stroked my cheeks while he said that I would probably be able to feel the effects soon. I manage to say that I was able to feel it – it felt like I was becoming slightly dizzy and then it didn’t take many seconds before I was gone – I just didn’t notice on my own.
The next thing I remember is that I was awaken from a dream – the first thing I thought was something like: what has happened here? ah yes I am at the hospital… Have the surgery been done? Have they cancelled? Have they done the surgery on both ears? One of the people in the room quickly shows a thumbs up hand gesture to show me that everything was alright. I did however find that hard to believe.
I was quickly asked to climb into my bed which they had placed next to the operating table. They helped me in doing that and then I was driven to the recovery ward. On the way I quickly realized that I had tinnitus on both of my ears – at this time it sounded like you had put an old radio on a frequency where there was no channel.
The recovery ward
At the recovery ward I was still puzzled about if I had been under surgery at all and if everything had happened as intended. I could however feel that I had a large bandage and that there was some soft clothe that touched both of my ears – it felt like I had a big set of earmuffs on that had some cotton wool that touched lightly on my ears. I did not think I would be able to feel my ears that well after the surgery – but a doctor quickly came to my bed to signal that everything was alright with a thumbs up sign.
Even though I was at the recovery room I felt quite fresh even though I could feel that my body had been in some strange deep sleep. But I started to “listen” to my body to find out if everything was alright. One of the first things I noticed was that I had a strange chemical taste in the left side of my mouth that reminded of the taste of some medicin. The reason was that I had lost the sense of taste in the left part of my tongue – but not on the side of the tongue. I also discovered that I could not feel and move my littlefinger and ringfinger on my left hand which was the hand with the drop. The staff told me that I had apparently been lying in a way where the blood could get to some parts of my hand – the area was all blue. I was asked to massage the area and constantly move my fingers to get the blood into this area. After some hours the colour was back but it took about 24 hours before the hand felt normal again.
I was rather quickly able to spot a watch in the recovery ward and I could see that the clock had become 2.20 pm so I had been in narcosis for about 6 hours. That was much more than I had expected – but I guess this is caused by the break they had between the surgery of the two ears. Time is a strange thing in relation to the narcosis. In one way I could feel that some time had passed but in the other way around it did not feel like long time ago that I was put into the narcosis – the time had not passed while I was in narcosis – for me the clock was not 2.20 pm yet but I could however feel that I have had some kind of nap – even though it was a very special one.
As the surgery had taken a long time the staff quickly came with a ultrasound scanner to check my bladder – they wanted to make sure that I wait with the toilet visit – they told me that it is not possible to feel if you need to pee right after a surgery – I did however feel that I could feel my bladder – I could feel that there was something in it but it did not feel like it was urgent – the nurse agreed with me on that. It is however a fun story to have been scanned with a device that most people know as a device that is used for scanning pregnant women.
One of the nurses asked me how I felt and if I felt fresh – I replied that I felt fine but that I almost couldn’t keep my eyes open because of my bandage – it was pushing the skin down in front of my eyes. Therefore another nurse came which should change my bandage – it was nice to be able to see again 😉
I was then offered to get an ice cream – I was happy about that idea because I felt dry in my throat – I had not gotten any liquid in all of the day. I was however a little disappointed that it turned out to be a water ice – but it was still nice. It was however a strange feeling to eat this ice as i had lost some taste in one side of the tongue.
The staff the told me that I was ready to go back to my room. It did however take quite some time as the porting staff were quite busy at that moment. In the waiting time I got some lemonade and the staff checked my bladder one more time – still lots of room 🙂
Back in my room
When we got up my mother was waiting in a waiting room in front of the elevators – it was nice to see her and I can imagine that it has been a long process to wait for so long. But back in the room I told my mother how I felt and that we had to wait a long time for the porting staff. But we both agreed that the surgery had taken more time than we expected – in the morning we had asked the nurse for how long they expected the surgery to last – and she had said 3½ hours but she was in doubt.
After a little while a couple of doctors entered my room to find out how I felt and answer some questions. I did not have any specific questions in the confusing situation and I actually felt that it was difficult to ask questions as I would not be able to hear the answer. My mom asked why it had taken so long – but they did not have an answer for that. About the lacking taste the doctors said that it was a common side effect and that the remain taste in my tongue would take over after some time so that I would not notice it. In relation to my tinnitus the doctors said that this was also a common side effect – the tinnitus would probably change in the following days and for most people it would go away. They checked if I was dizzy – i wasn’t as long as I stayed still (they tested this with some very unclear glasses that made it impossible to focus on anything). They also used a tuning fork on my forehead to find out if I had some residual hearing. I replied that I could hear my own voice in my left ear – that made them laugh a little 🙂
I started to feel sore – my feeling of wearing earmuffs had changed to a feeling the same earmuffs but just with a sharp pressing edge. The reason was of course that the anesthesia was wearing off.
I started to drive my back up until I was sitting up. This was done in small steps as I felt dizzy every time I got further up. When I was all the way up I took my legs out of the bed and then I sat here for a while and moved the muscles in different parts of my body. By moving the body I also could get some remaining anesthesia out of the body while fighting my slight dizziness. With my feets on the ground I started to run my bed upwards until I was standing – then I slowly walked to the toilet still feeling a little dizzy.
After the toilet visit I had to get some food – I was very hungry and they were serving dinner. I slowly walked into the hall and stopped up to see what they were serving. It was a little unmanageable and I also noticed that the other patients were staring at me. But alright it also looked like I had been through a major head surgery with the bandage I was wearing and the slow speed I had walked into the hall did not help either 🙂
I was as mentioned very hungry and therefore ordered a big plate with some of all the ingredients. My mom caried the tray back to my room where I sat in a chair next to a table. Hospital food is not very exciting but never mind – I was hungry. I did however had to skip some very uninteresting vegetables and most of the desert – it was uneatable. My lacking taste in one side of the tongue was a little confusing – the food tasted right in one side of the mouth but damn it was weird in the other side where the only impression of the food was consistency and temperature. I finished by eating a banana and here I had to realize that the consistency of a banana alone is quite unappetizing – I had to keep the banana in the side of the mouth where I could taste it.
After my dinner my mom took home – it had of course been a long day for her. I then started to watch some TV and write messages on Facebook that the surgery had gone well. I also chatted with a couple of friends. While I sat doing this I also received penicillin through my drop.
The evening and the night
A little later I walked around in my room – the TV programs wasn’t worth watching and I was tired – but I also wasn’t in doubt that I would not be able to sleep. My tinnitus had become worse and it hurt from my wounds and the tight bandage. It was however nice to walk around in my room after having been laid down and sit down for so long.
I then laid in my bed and tried to relax and maybe rest a little. But I could not find rest as it hurt and was quite noisy. I there used the time to think about all the things I had experienced and the period that I would be facing. But what hit me most was that I had not had the imagination to imagine what it would be like to go through such a surgery and how tough it would be. It was strange to relate to because I had investigated almost all the aspects about this process and I knew it would be hard – I just hadn’t realized it. But I am very happy that I have spent so much time on investigating all these aspects as it made it possible for me to relate my experiences to what others had experienced.
I did not sleep at all this night because of tinnitus and pains. During the night I was at the maximum painkillers that they dared to give me – but I still felt that it hurt the same – but I could feel in my hands that they were a little numb. But luckily I felt that the time went fast this night even though I was awake all of the night. I was just happy that I had finally started this journey.
After a night without any sleep my tinnitus had become considerably more intense and it now sounded like a foghorn on a ferry that were constantly howling. It was difficult to ignore that much noise.
Early in the morning I got a drop of penicillin. And then the bandage got removed from my head so that I only had the patched over my wounds. These patches had already been put on during the surgery. It was a huge relief to have the bandage removed as that was very tight but it did not really change anything about the pain. But it was more easy to ignore the pain now that I was supposed to get up and get home later on the day.
I had to overcome some dizziness when I got up and when I was at the toilet I realized that I had to return quickly to my bed and sit down – I could feel that I was missing blood in my head.
The surgeon came into my room. He quickly asked me to stand up – I had just gotten better after missing blood in the head – but it went fine. He also asked me to keep the balance with closed eyes – that went fine. He said that everything was fine and that I was therefore able to go home – but I could stay for the rest of the day.
I got breakfast but it was very boring food – it did not get better with my lacking taste in half of the mouth. After breakfast I changed to my own clothe again. It was much easier to keep the temperature in that clothe and it felt like the right thing to do now that I was allowed to go home. That was a nice feeling.
My mom came into the room again – I wanted to go home soon. But I felt like I needed to recover a little first. After having talked about how the night had went the nurse came into the room to inform about the following days when I got home. She started by saying that I should take my hearing aids on. I looked skeptical at her because I had heard other patients tell that they were not allowed to wear hearing aids before the wound had healed. But I decided to respect her directions and I only wanted to follow the directions that were given to me. But I had to realize that I could not use my hearing aids for anything – I heard nothing at all – but I also had a lot of tinnitus at that moment. And I could also feel that the ear molds did not fit correctly into my ears – the shape was wrong.
I was deaf and therefore hit on my ability to communicate. I had a notepad with me that I asked people to write in when they wanted to say something that I could not lipread. I think that was a very useful solution which also meant that I could read what they had said later on.
Time to go home
After a little while I decided that it was time to go home. I said goodbye to the nice staff and gave them the flowers that had been in my room. On the way out to the car I could see that some people noticed my large patches and how slow I was walking. When we got outside I took a hood over my head to keep warm. It was nice to get out into fresh air – this made me notice how boring the air must have been inside the hospital.
The trip home went fine and I had no problems with dizziness. I was smiling the whole way home because I had finally started this journey. When we got home we got some nice lunch from a good baker. That was really needed after the boring breakfast. I did however have some problems with some of the food because of the missing taste and the new focus on consistency. I therefore preferred the rye bread sandwiches.
After lunch I had a nap – that was good as I finally managed to get some rest despite of my pains, tinnitus and that I did not not lie were good because I had to stay on my back and have a raised headrest.
I can hear something 🙂
While my mom prepared dinner I tried some in-ear headphones to see if I could hear something with these. I joyfully noticed that I could actually hear a little music. It was only the deep bass that I could hear in combination with some rattle. But it was nice to notice that I had kept some residual hearing – The exciting will be to find out how much – but nevertheless it was positive that I would be able to hear a little music now that I had tinnitus and could not wear my hearing aids.
My mom watched X Factor in the TV – but I most admit that this was not interesting for me to watch that without sound. I therefore spent the time on Facebook and went early to bed. I managed to sleep and was only awake 2 times during that night 🙂
That was all I had to tell about the first 2 day after the surgery. But worry not I have much more to tell about. In the next post I will include a description of day 3 which without any doubt was the most tough day in my case.