Here are the pictures and the diary of my experience from Cochlear Implant Surgery #2, that I’ve been promising to post for awhile!
In the car on the way to the hospital for cochlear implant surgery number 2!
Tuesday afternoon, the results of the NRI test and CT scan determined that I needed to have surgery again to fix a minor complication with my implant (easily corrected). I am the first patient EVER in all of his years of practice to have this problem. He’s heard of it, but he’s never seen it happen, so it was kinda cool being a doctor’s first case. He definitely won’t forget me!
However, I felt bad because everybody at the office was waiting for us to come back from the CT scan till after closing hours, because they needed to see the results on whether or not surgery was needed, which I wouldn’t find out until the next morning when Myrna, the secretary/coordinator, came in.
Wednesday morning, 10 minutes after they opened at 8:30, everything was in place and all set to go. I was going to have surgery at 5:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon, same hospital as my first surgery.
We arrived at Good Samaritan Hospital at 3:50 pm, and on the way, storm clouds were building up.
Traveling west…look at the monsoon storm clouds building up, and horrible rush hour traffic on the other side. Thank goodness we were on the less-traffic side.
the hospital where I had my surgery at (I was on the 8th floor) (through the windshield, sorry for the quality)
the sliver of building on the left is the parking garage, and in front of us is registration/surgery. the tower building is the patient rooms, and to the right is the emergency room/outpatient surgical suites. (let’s just say I’ve lived here too long, and been here several times)
I was nervous, because I was afraid that I was going to be as sick as last time, with all the vomiting of blood and whatnot. That, and the previous anesthesiologist was a jerk, because he didn’t believe me or my parents, when we were telling him that about our family history with anesthesia, and he dismissed us, since the last time I had surgery was when I was little (on my right ear too!). Mom told me not to worry, and so did my doctor, because he had somebody else in mind for this surgery that would be great, if mom’s anesthesiologist for her back surgery wasn’t available (all three are in the same group).
While waiting to register, I was antsy and hot, and wanted so badly to drink water, that somebody’s almost-full bottle of Powerade and another person’s half-full water bottle that was left in the registration waiting area was SO TEMPTING. I hadn’t really had anything to drink/eat since 9:30 that morning (Actually midnight the night before). Not to mention that I wasn’t allowed to wear deodorant or perfume, so I was sweating buckets (it was like 110 that day).
hot and bothered and THIRSTY.
this is what they give you to hold while you’re waiting to register!
I breezed through all the registration, paperwork, and pre-op stuff like a champ, and was ready to go on time. It was less scary this time, because I had an idea of what to expect. We went back out to wait in the waiting room, and we were soon met by George, who was my pre-op nurse, and he took us up to pre-op and got me all ready. I was feeling stressed because there wasn’t a lot of time before I had to go in, and I like taking my time instead of rushing through everything. When we told him about what happened last week, and how I started barfing/hyperventilating before surgery, he was like “oh great” and started teasing me and my mom, so that lightened up the mood.
When I arrived at the pre-op area, I was met by some of the same people who took care of me last week in both pre/postop, so that was cool. I had to wait, because George wanted to strip the bed down again, because it didn’t look “neat” or “clean” so he had to take the stuff away and bring clean stuff back and get it ready for me.
I was handed a urine bottle to take a pregnancy test (everybody who has a uterus has to take a pregnancy test, no exceptions), and I was protesting to George and my mom that it was pointless, because what could happen in one week, especially since I’ve been sick this entire time, and both of them were teasing me about how it only takes one!
Got undressed and into the bed, with my little booties (which I absolutely LOVE) and Mary came back to set my IV. We tried to put it in my left hand (I had it in my left wrist previously), but my veins were clamping shut, so we had to do my right elbow instead. (I hate having IVs in the elbow, because I tend to curl my arms, and it sets off the alarms in the IV). Mary was so good, and she kept me distracted while she was doing all of this. Carolyn, who I believe was there last week (since she recognized me from post-op) came by to talk to us while Mary was doing the IVs.
After that was done, my doctor appeared fresh from the office, toting the equipment needed to test my implant. I didn’t get to see Megan, who did this surgery (Kim did the first one). Then everybody disappeared for a little bit, and mom and I did a mini photo-op session, and she was trying to keep me calm and relaxed, since I get anxious easily.
All ready for #2!
this is what I got to put my hearing aid and belly piercing in…an urine test bottle.
Then literally everybody came back there. The anesthesiologist, Katherine G., Steve, my surgical nurse, and another guy (I forgot his name) showed up. Mary was there, and so was George.
The anesthesiologist was absolutely incredible and if I ever have surgery again, I’m going to request her. She made me feel completely at ease and relaxed me sooo much. Sat down next to me on my bed, held my hand and patted me on the hand. She listened to us when we talked about what happened with me last week and how horrible it was, she looked through my chart and planned out a different course of action that would avoid all the complications that I had (“oozing blood” in the throat that persisted after surgery, extreme and prolonged vomiting (~12 hours), blood/blood clots in vomit, etc.) She also listened to my mom talk about when she had back surgery and did fantastic with Dr. B’s “recipe”, which he wrote down for us, and she took a look at that, and pretty much followed the same course for me, and used primarily Decadron and no nitrous oxide. She left to go get ready, and then Steve his buddy came back and went through a bunch of questions and more paperwork.
just right before I was wheeled out for surgery #2!
Steve also took a pic of my mom and I before they wheeled me out. We were met at the entrance between pre-op and the hall leading to the main surgical unit by Geoff, who was also there for my first surgery, who was responsible for transporting me last week. He took my bag and carried it for my mom. Mom got to walk with me as far as the restricted to surgical apparel line, where she said goodbye to me and left with Geoff to go put my stuff in the lockers, and then to the waiting room.
I remember everything this time, because I wasn’t injected with a tranquilizer/sleep medicine before I left pre-op. It was so cool going through the big main surgical room and seeing all the equipment they use for surgery, the washroom for the doc, going past the other operating rooms and trying to peek through the windows to see what’s going on, before I arrived at operating room #7 (lucky 7s!). I was wheeled in and I saw the little narrow operating table, and remember thinking, “that’s what I’m going to lay on? It’s so tiny!”
While waiting on the transport bed, I saw my doctor over on the left side of the room getting ready, and Megan was in front of me, and she was the only person I could understand, because she knows sign language, and we were talking about what to do with my hair, because Steph said she had hers in a ponytail and she didn’t get hers ripped out, but I left mine down last week, and it hurt when he took the bandage off and my hairs came out with it, so I just left it up in a ponytail. It didn’t matter anyway, because they pulled my ponytail out after I went to sleep. After that, I was just looking around the room at all the equipment and all the people in there (at least 7) and was marveling that so many people were needed for surgery. I was then moved from the bed onto the table.
The headrest was weird, as it had multiple plastic “holes” and was like a cradle for my head, but provided access points so they could get to my head and cut it open. Katherine came over to the table, squeezed my hand and patted me on the arm and asked if I was all set and ready to go. It was a little disconcerting when they pulled out the armrests, asked me to put my arms out, and then strapped my arms down to the table. That made me feel weird. And then they put the mask on me and I drifted off to sleep.
The surgery took a little over 2 hours, only because the testing of the implant took a really long time (about 40 minutes). They tested EVERY single electrode and all of them work perfectly. I now have a perfect cochlear implant, with 16 perfectly functioning electrodes, perfectly positioned. He had to drill the hole in my head 1 mm wider, and pulled the wire out and reinserted it so that it was in a perfect position. So more x-rays were taken, intense scruntity over the test results, and I was given a perfect bill of health and sent out of surgery.
me in post-op, one hour after coming out of surgery, and not quite awake.
Woke up in post-op and felt FANTASTIC. The only part that didn’t feel fantastic was the chemical-ickyness that I was feeling in my system/breathing out. I was one of two patients in post-op, so it was real quiet and it was nice getting all the attention (except from my post-op nurse). My post-op nurse was one of those people who was lazy, and didn’t want to go the extra mile to find a private room so that my mom could stay with me, and was not real attentive to me. When I found out that my mom wasn’t going to be able to stay with me, I started to cry (I was on drugs too!) because I get real scared without my mom or somebody I know, who can help me with communication (especially after surgery, when I’m not myself), and the other nurse, Kelly, took it upon herself to do the job of my nurse, and was able to get us into a private room that was saved for “emergencies”. The bad nurse came back and started talking to me, without getting my attention, and my mom said to him “that is exactly why I need to be here with her.” Anyways, he got his punishment, because he had to give his report again to the new floor nurse on the 8th floor, instead of the 7th floor, where they were going to stick me.
my mom and I
While all of this was going on, Katherine stopped by to see how I was doing, and she gave me a hug and we got a pic together because she was absolutely fantastic.
the best anesthesiologist ever, Katherine!
Geoff (who was also there for my first surgery) and I joking around before he took me upstairs. He hung around my bed for awhile in post-op, talking with me and my mom.
I was taken up to my room 825 sometime after 11 pm by my favorite transport nurse, Geoff :-P, and was able to hop from the bed to my bed, and go to the bathroom. Last time, they had to get a backboard and move me from bed to bed, because I literally could not get up at all, much less lift my head.
I felt absolutely fantastic, and I didn’t really have any dizziness, because the dizziness that I had before surgery and all week since I had my first surgery, went away. I was able to go for a walk a few times that night, and was pent up with energy.
Carmen was my nurse and Andrew was the assistant. He was teasing me that I was sneaky, because I didn’t get my drink from him, and Carmen brought it instead, and he came back and was like “where did that come from! I’m going to have to keep my eyes on you!” He also kept popping in to watch a bit of D2: The Mighty Ducks, which was playing on the TV. I was allowed to have ice cubes every 10 minutes for 1 hour, then a sip of Shasta Lemon-Lime every 10 minutes for 2 hours, then finally got to have a treat of lemon-lime italian ice (which was my favorite color lime green!).
Around 3 am, I was having stomach pains, and we couldn’t figure out if it was nausea or if it was because I was hungry. Mom went down to the cafeteria and brought back a frozen yogurt popsicle and my tummy started to feel better. When I came out of the bathroom, both my mom and Carmen were commenting on my “hairstyle”, and teasing me about how much they liked it, because it was sticking up in the back. Mom said the first surgical hairstyle was better, than this time around. I disagreed with her!
I was driving my mom crazy because I kept popping out of bed to go to the bathroom, and I kept setting the alarm off on my IV. Finally, Carmen taught me and my mom how to reset the alarm and clear the IV so they didn’t have to come in like every 10 seconds. Mom was about ready to strap my arm to a board so I couldn’t bend it. Mom wanted me to go to sleep but I was just pent up with too much energy.
I went to sleep for about an hour, and mom disappeared into the lounge to read and came back while I was asleep. Woke up at 4:30 and was flipping out because my face, hands, and arms were all swollen, which was due to all the IV fluids.
Finally, at 5 am, mom settled into her chair and told me: “Don’t tell me you think you have to barf. Don’t tell me you have to go to the bathroom, and don’t set the alarm off in your IV. CLOSE YOUR EYES AND GO TO SLEEP.” She wanted some sleep since she was exhausted and in pain (she just had back surgery, and broke her tailbone as well), and I wasn’t giving her much rest, nor was I resting enough to her satisfaction. I woke up just before 6 am, and then my doctor arrived. I was so happy to see him, and told him that I had to give him a hug because he made me feel all better. I was about to cry, because I was just so happy. I think he was a little surprised, but gave me a hug anyway.
me the morning after surgery, able to sit up in bed without using the controls to push up the bed, before the doctor arrived
I is a VERY happy camper this time around!
My doctor was pleased to see that I was feeling wonderful, no vomiting, nothing like last week. He told me that his family had been asking about how I was doing, and that they all sent their best wishes to me. He postponed leaving for his family reunion so he could do surgery on me, and check on me the next morning. (I think he left for the airport right after visiting me). Then he asked me if I wanted to take my bandage off this morning. I was so excited, because I thought I was going to have to keep it on for 3 days, like last time. Apparently, the magnet part of the scar was healed enough and he didn’t have to open up that part, which was the reason why I didn’t need to keep the bandage on. Before he left, he said that if we needed anything or anything went wrong, to call his partner who would then call him, and if he needed to, he would fly back here to take care of me. My mom said “absolutely not, go have a good time at your family reunion!”
taking my bandage off…first cut is in the center of the forehead!
Examining my surgical incision
We then talked about what happened in surgery, and the usual stuff and then he left to write up my discharge orders and get me my prescriptions. I had to have one more course of IV antibiotics before I could leave the hospital in a few hours. I had to wait a while because I had just finished one course, and there’s a certain amount of time I had to wait in between courses.
talking after he took the bandage off
my awesome doctor
Breakfast arrived, and it was pancakes and sausages. I usually don’t like pancakes, but I ate everything but the cream of wheat and coffee. I like this hospital’s food. What can I say? Mom then left for her doctor’s appointment, and was going to come back for me in a few hours to take me home.
I closed my eyes to try to sleep, and I got this funny sensation that somebody was in the room with me, so I opened my eyes and saw two people staring at me, trying to get my attention. I told them I was deaf, and he apologized profusely, and came to help me select what I wanted for lunch. He then left and I went back to sleep. Woke up and was bored, so I took some pictures.
the view from my bed.
Looking south to the downtown skyline. Bank One Ballpark (BoB) is the building on the left side of the picture, and the roof is open.
me in my bed!
A little while later, Mom came back from her doctor’s appointment just in time for lunch and the nurse to arrive. First the nurse unhooked me from the IV, because I finished the IV antibiotics, and was ready to go home after I finished my lunch. The guy who took my order for lunch also met my mom, and she knew what happened, and he was apologizing again, and I told him not to worry about it, and that it was actually funny, so all was cool.
I really like the hospital food. I especially loved the Peach Crisp that came with this meal!
My ear, 18 hours after surgery #2. The yellow stuff on my face is Betadine, a antiseptic used to clean the area.
I was all ready to go home and was happy to get out there, because I felt fantastic, except for my face. My face felt like it was on fire, and was all red and itchy. Turns out it was from the bandage/tape, which I now have an allergy to, and was irritated by it being on my face. They let me take a washcloth home to help soothe the skin, which helped.
In the car, on the way home, and hotter than the dickens!
A street near my neighborhood, on the way to Walgreen’s. This is looking to the Southeast Valley/San Tan mountains.
This time the car ride was soooooo much better. I didn’t have dizziness like the first time, and didn’t have to hang on for dear life the entire way home, because I was absolutely miserable the first time around. We headed to Walgreen’s and dropped off the prescription for more Vicodin and another course of antibiotics, Levoquin. And then I was able to head home to my bed, where I could sleep. I came in the house, only to find my grandma’s cat Benny, waiting on the bed for me. Apparently, he had slept there for most of the morning, waiting for me to come home.
Benny and I taking a nap, while the X-Files plays on the TV behind me.
A few days later!
So, that’s my surgical experience with CI #2! I had my follow-up appointment yesterday afternoon, and I am “healing fast” and on track for my activation date of August 7th, barring any problems. I still have to get a check-up and approval from my doctor before the activation, so I have my fingers crossed.
For those of you who were thinking about getting a CI, and are scared by my experience, please don’t be. My experience was an exception to the rule of normal CI surgeries. In the end, it really wasn’t that bad, and it was a minor complication that was easily fixed. Sure, it’s always scary, but everything worked out perfectly now.
To be honest, I went into the first surgery knowing that something was going to go wrong, because I’ve had that feeling/fear for many years about getting a CI. I didn’t let it stop me, and faced my fear, because I can’t let it hold me back.