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Sunday, August 1, 2010

CI Surgery Experience

For once, I actually had surgery that started on time and
proceeded with no unexpected problems. This was my 7th surgery
ever, including dental surgery. They knocked me out for all but
one. I guess I'm getting used to what to expect.

Of course, I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything after
midnight the day before. They called me in about an hour before
the surgery was to begin. They got right to work on all pre-op
stuff. Thankfully, this time they asked for urine for the
pregnancy test before I had already emptied my bladder.

I had the same interpreter as for my arm surgery. That was nice.
She's a really good interpreter and we work well together.

They made me change into the biggest paper gown I've ever seen.
Three of me could have fit in that thing. My mother didn't get
it tied well so I felt like I was drowning. The nurse had me
stand up and she fixed it so it was a little better.

I fussed about having to remove my underwear. Big mistake. They
gave me a pair of one-size-fits all mesh undies. Oh my gosh!
Talk about kinky. I was pretty embarrassed to have to wear those
things, even if they were well hidden under the giant gown.

We laughed a lot about the mesh underwear. The nurse said I
could take home the hospital slipper socks but that I didn't
have to keep the underwear. Thank goodness for that.

They had me sit in an exam chair while they got everything ready.
They put three ID bracelets on my wrist and then started the IV.
They wanted to put the IV in the back of my hand but I asked for
it in my forearm instead. That makes tactile communication
easier. The doctor said that was fine.

They check blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen levels
all at once. It was a confusing mix of arms and instruments.
Then the resident came in and did an examined. He marked my left
ear with pen to indicate that was the ear they were operating on.

Finally they put a shower cap over my head. I said they must
need to destroy all personal dignity before they send you into
surgery. My interpreter had to put on a gown, too, in order to
be allowed to go into the OR with me.

They made me get into a wheel chair and took me to the OR. Then
I had to get onto the operating table. Before I laid down, they
opened my gown and stuck a big square sticker to my back. That
was for monitoring purposes, I guess.

It was hard to get in place right once I laid down. The table
was so narrow. They kept pointing and pulling and I was
confused.

They hooked my legs up to a massage thing for circulation. I was
freezing because they removed the blanket to do this and my gown
was open. It took awhile before they finished and got me
covered again. I was worried about being cold.

The nurse started to hook up the BP cuff to my right arm. I
winced when she grabbed my elbow. She decided to move it to my
left, instead. That was a relief.

Then I had to breathe into the mask. It took longer for me to
fall asleep this time. I didn't like breathing in the mask and
it bothered me to have to do it for so long. But then I finally
started to drift away.

I found out later that my mother was freaking out during my
surgery. Now, she is the kind of mother who worries too much.
And even if I am an adult, I'm still her little girl and so she
fears the worst. However, the nurse fueled her fears and
imagination when she needlessly informed my parents that I was
be given the same medicine that killed Michael Jackson. Oh
brother!

I woke up to find myself sitting up in an exam chair. I didn't
like being up right. I wanted to lie down but they wouldn't
let me. They said I had to keep my head elevated.

There were breathing tubes in my nose but they took those out
right away. I found the BP cuff was now on my right arm. I
wasn't happy about that but I was too out of it to complain. It
made my elbow hurt every time they checked my blood pressure.

They made me eat pretzels and drink ginger ale. I noticed right
away that one of my biggest fears had come true. I could not
taste anything. The food tasted totally blank. Nothing at all.
But there was a metallic taste in my mouth, too.

This is a common side effect of CI surgery. The auditory nerve
is close to the facial nerve and nerve for taste. Sometimes
taste and facial movements can be effected. My face was not
paralyzed but, apparently, the other nerve is being compressed.

This could just be temporary. When the swelling starts to go
down, I might regain my sense of taste. It usually comes back
slowly, over several months. For some people it's permanent.
Others complain that they metallic taste doesn't go away.

I really hope I get my sense of taste back. I knew this could
happen. It's one of the risks. I diced to go through with the
CI surgery, anyway. Regaining some hearing will be worth the
lost of taste. Communication is far more important than enjoying
my food.

I didn't want to eat the pretzels. They didn't make me. They
put a small patch behind my right ear to help with dizziness and
nausea. After my first CI surgery, I had major trouble with
balance, dizziness and nausea. This time it was fine. My head
felt a little top heavy but that was all.

They had me up and dressed really fast. I couldn't believe how
quickly they got me out of there. My mother and the nurses
helped me dress. There were bandages wrapped completely around
my head like a mummy. Because of the bandages, I couldn't get
my old CI processor in place on the right side. So I was in
complete silence. I didn't like that.

When we got home, I sat in my recliner chair and drank some 7-Up.
I tried to look strong so I wouldn't scare JD. He's never seen
me looking like a crash test dummy before. But he was pretty
okay with it.

I'm taking pain pills and antibiotics now. The medicine has me
feeling pretty out of it. We took the bandages off on Tuesday.
I have to clean the incision site with peroxide and cover with
ointment twice a day. I don't like that at all. It makes it
hurt.

Mostly the pain is beginning to lesson. The incision is right
behind the ear. It feels like I've got something wrapped around
my ear but it's just the tightness of the scar pulling skin
together... and maybe the effect of some swelling. I am amazed
because they didn't shave any hair off at all. That was a nice
surprise, indeed.

I go back for follow up on Friday. I will get "turned on"
around the end of the month. That's when the fun really begins.
They give you the equipment and start programming the
processor. I am hoping for success but for now, I'm just
concentrating on healing.

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