A Day of Wonders (Cochlear Implant activation)

Tuesday, July 31st, I woke up to this beautiful site:

Tulips from my hubby! What a wonderful surprise!!

I had an appointment with Dr. Kaylie to check my incision at 1pm, and then I saw the audiologist immediately afterward.

Dr. Kaylie was pleased that I didn’t have as much pain or vertigo with this surgery.  The incision looked great, and all was a go for activation….well, to get my processor.  Dr. Kaylie already checked to make sure the Implant was working when I was in surgery, so that wasn’t a worry.  The implant was already working, but I couldn’t hear anything without the processor.  It was time to get the processor.  So off to see Sara, my audiologist.

It was very interesting to have the processor hooked up.  At first I just heard a series of beeps, (that’s what I was supposed to hear).  She was determining the volume each frequency should be. Then I was able to hear speech, and when I first heard her talk I busted out laughing!  She sounded like a cartoon, then I heard Stuart speak, and he sounded like a cartoon…heck, I sounded like a cartoon.  I kept giggling every time someone spoke. Everyone still sounds cartoonish.  A very silly cartoon, like on Rodger Rabbit.  It’s amusing but also quite difficult.  Sara reassured me that all of her patients tell her that it gets better, but everyone is different.  My brain has to be trained to hear a different way.  Now I’m not hearing as a normal person, I’m hearing by having my auditory nerve stimulated.  That kind of blows my mind. (I know my hearing will get better and better as time goes on, but I also know I may never hear like normal ears hear any longer.)

You would not believe how much stuff I got with my processors. Two HUGE boxes full of stuff.

These are the boxes all the parts came in. The coffee cup is in the picture to show scale. It’s a regular sized coffee mug.
This is some of the pieces for the Harmony processor. Yes lot’s of extra stuff. I’m so confused by how I’m going to organize all of this stuff….just look there’s even more in the next box…and this doesn’t include things I’m using, like the processor, and the battery chargers…ect.
This is some of the items that came with the Neptune processor. This is the processor that can be waterproof, and it clips on instead of going behind the ear….but all this stuff, I have to figure a way to organize it, and understand it all. : )

I was joking in the last picture, I was shown what everything did, I just need to work with everything to make sure I understand how it works without anyone telling me, or me having to look it up.  Especially all the connections to hook the processor straight up to the iPod, or things like that.  The different ear hooks for different things with the Harmony.  All the accessories just to make it different looking and some to clip the Neptune on to me, like an arm band and a lanyard…ect.
I have a drying box to keep the processors free of dampness.  Each processor came with one, but I like one better than the other.  There are different carrying cases, but neither will help organize all the pieces.  I feel like I got some very useful items, some fun items, and some useless items.  But it’s been like Christmas for a couple of days just playing around with all the pieces and figuring out how to wear them.

Here’s some photos of me with my CI hooked up with the different processors :

Me with the Harmony processor on….I was playing around with the different colored pieces you can snap on to it. The part that hooks to my head….by a magnet…that’s green, I have that in white, black, red, brown, and light brown….and of course lime green. Where the blue is, I have some funky snap on parts there, they are all silly – stars, rockets, rainbows…ect. Or I don’t have to wear one and it will be a light brownish beige.
This is the Harmony from the side. I have the larger battery on the processor in this photo, so the back part (where the blue is snapped on) is longer than it is with the smaller battery. Of course the larger battery last longer than the shorter one….about 4-5 hours longer I think.
This is me with the Neptune on. I just clipped it to my shirt to show what it looks like. When it is waterproof, it’s actually smaller (you take the controller off, so you can’t change the volume or anything when you are swimming, but who would have time?)
Please excuse the way I look. No makeup, in a sloppy t-shirt…and taking photos of myself. How atrocious! haha

So there you have it.  Me and my Cochlear Implant with the 2 processors I picked out.

Remember, picking out a processor is a very personal thing.  I would never say mine is the best, if you are getting a cochlear implant, do as I did, read up as much as you can on all the ones available, then decide which one will fit in you the best.

Also.  Everyone has different experiences with their CI.  I’m hearing words, some people do not hear words when it is first turned on.  Others hear words that are much clearer than what I am hearing.  Some of it depends on how long you have been deaf, I don’t know the other factors…I just know we are different.  So don’t think my experience is the same experience you will have.

The wonders continue!

OH….I did hear my cat purr last night, and it sounded like purring!  I was thrilled!  The one sound I’ve had a hard time getting used to is my own breath.  I feel that’s strange….hopefully I’ll get used to it soon.  Breathing shouldn’t be this loud….should it?  I’m sure it’s something that will end up just going into the background.  I remember when I got my hearing aids the sound of my hair brushing against them drove me crazy….later I didn’t even notice it.

Photo Op! Cochlear Implant

Getting Prepped for Surgery. (photo by Stuart Holcombe)
My Surgeon’s Signature. Marking which ear they will be operating on. (photo by Stuart Holcombe)
I’m a FALL RISK! When you have Meniere’s as a diagnosis, you are pretty much so labeled a FALL RISK. Funny, I don’t really see where they do anything different. I did get an escort to the bathroom, but if I had fallen, she wouldn’t have been able to hold me up! I think I’ll keep the bracelet and just keep putting it on when I go to Duke, no sense in wasting them. : ) (photo by Stuart Holcombe)
At home, tucked in my bed with Monkey after surgery. Sorry photo is a bit dark, but I didn’t have time to adjust it.
photo by, Stuart Holcombe
Taken 7/23/2012 – The oily part and yellow part is the stuff they put on the protect the wound until it has healed enough….I get to wash my hair on Thursday. I do not have any stitches to take out, all will dissolve. (photo by Stuart Holcombe)
Another view of incision. It was hard to get my hair in this position to show how much was shaved. It is very easily covered up.
photo by Stuart Holcombe

Surgery went “Perfect”

Sorry I haven’t posted, and unfortunately this post won’t have photos, I promise they will be coming soon.

My surgeon told Stuart that my surgery went “perfect”.  Yay!

Of course, I’m a weird patient….I had a reaction to the antibiotic.  Not a severe reaction, but I looked like a clown.  I had very red cheeks.  Nothing serious, and it faded the next day, I didn’t even have to change my antibiotic, but we had to keep a watch out for a little while.

I also had a reaction to the adhesive they used to attach the heart monitor to me.  I looked like I had huge hickies from an octopus hugging me.  But again, nothing serious.

The pain isn’t bad.  But it is there.  Yesterday was worse, probably because I hate taking pain medication and was tired for feeling drunk.   I am swollen, but I think it’s better than it was yesterday.  I’m very tired, and I’m having some killer migraines.  That’s why I haven’t posted before now.  The migraines made it way too uncomfortable for me to look at the computer.

So….everything is fine!  I’m doing well!

My Cochlear Implant will be activated on the 31st.

I’ll get photos up as soon as I get them off of my phone!  They look much like the photos from the endolymphatic sac surgery…same smiley cup and everything.  Wait until you see how much hair is gone!  (really, not much at all, you can barely tell!)

off to sleep some more.

Thank you all for so many get well wishes.

One Week until Surgery

As excited as I am about getting the Cochlear Implant (CI) next week, I’m nervous too.  I realized this yesterday.  I had appointments scheduled for this week and a dinner with friends scheduled for Sunday, and I told Stuart I just couldn’t do it.  I simply feel like there is too much stress on me right now.  With all the stress, I was making myself sick.

So what am I nervous about?  You would think I’d be nervous about the surgery, but I’m not.  I am nervous about the nurses finding a vein for the IV before the surgery, that is always an ordeal with me.   However, mostly I’m worried that the surgery will be postponed.  There have been so many delays, I’m having a hard time believing it’s going to happen.  I am expecting something to happen…I’ll get sick, my doctor will get sick or have to postpone for some reason….anything.

Now that I realize what has been bothering me so much, I’m dealing with it much better.  I know the surgery will happen.  If some unforeseen circumstance causes the surgery to be delayed , I’ll deal with it.  I know it will happen, if not next week as scheduled then as soon as possible afterward.  I still don’t want to be stressed out more by going to the dentist, having a mammogram, and having a dinner party.  These things will just have to wait.

Now, let’s talk a little about the surgery.  I’m pretty lucky really, about 90% of the surgery has already been done to me.   Since I had the Endolymphatic Sac Surgery, they don’t have to drill a hole in my head.  It’s already there.  All that has to be done is thread the wire from the CI into the cochlea, and place the implant.

There were 3 companies for me to choose my CI from, each had positives and negatives but really they were all pretty close.  I chose Advanced Bionics.  This is a very personal decision for each person who gets a Cochlear Implant, I felt that the Advanced Bionics CI would fit best in my life style.

This is what will be going in my head:

Cochlear Implant from Advanced Bionics. http://www.advancedbionics.com/us/en/products.html

I’m so happy that Duke is a two processor facility.  The processor is the part that you see on the outside.  Since Advance Bionics offers more than one processor, I was given the choice of getting 2 the same or one of each.  I chose to get one of each.  One processor is called the Harmony, it is a Behind The Ear type.  I liked this model because the T-mic (microphone) is located at the opening of your ear, so it will be easier to talk on the phone, and my ear will act as a natural buffer for noises, like your ear normally does.

Here’s a photo of the Harmony Processor:

Harmony Processor – photo from Advanced Bionics website.

The Harmony comes in a variety of colors.  I think I was allowed to choose 5, but it’s been so long now, I don’t remember what colors I chose.  We’ll have to wait and see after I get hooked up.  You can use regular hearing aid batteries, or rechargeable batteries, I’m sure you know which ones I’ll be using.  I was able to chose different types of rechargeable batteries, small and large.  The small battery doesn’t last as long as the larger one.  I ordered both.

The other processor I chose was the Neptune.  The Neptune is capable of being Water Proof, it’s the only CI that is Water Proof, so I can swim in it!  The Processor is not behind the ear (BTE) it can be clipped to different things: an arm band, your shirt, a lanyard, your hair…ect.  The microphone is on the part that fits to the head.

Here’s a photo of the Neptune:

Neptune Processor – photo from Advanced Bionics

I realize the photo above doesn’t give you a good idea of what the Neptune really looks like.  So here’s a few that will give you a better idea:

This photo shows the Neptune Processor. The thinner profile is not water proof, you must add a different piece to the processor to make it water proof, that is shown on the thicker profile. (photo from AdvancedBionics website)


This shows the Neptune on a child while swimming. The processor is hooked to the arm band. (photo from Advanced Bionics)
This shows the processor clipped in a pocket, and in a girl’s hair. (my hair is long, I could completely cover the CI in my hair if I wanted.)
(photo from Advanced Bionics)

With the Neptune I was also given the opportunity of picking all kinds of colors.  I know I picked a brown, and the lime green seen above, but I don’t remember the rest.  We’ll all be surprised when I get hooked up.

The CI will be turned on 2 weeks after surgery.  That will be the beginning of August, hopefully the 2nd or 3rd.

Anybody want to know anything else?

I know this is a LONG post, but it’s full of information, right?

We can make it, one day at a time. : )

Wonky, Sloshy Head

Image from deviantArt. “loose” by pehdtsckjmba

If you have Meniere’s, I know you know what this title means.  For the past few days, (actually I think it’s only been two, but it feels like a week!), I’ve had the wonky, slosh head feeling.  I dare not move my head too fast or I’ll fall down, really, I did this yesterday!  I haven’t felt like this in a few months, I wonder what has started it now?

Could it be….

  1. Hormonal Changes?  It’s that week, but it hasn’t started yet.
  2. Missing one of my meds for a day and a half?  (that’s 3 doses)  This is what Stuart thinks it is, but I’m wondering if part of that isn’t just him feeling guilty because he forgot to go and pick it up.   (it was Buspar for anxiety and panic attacks – these started in January, I haven’t felt more anxious the past couple of days, just wonky!)
  3. The weather?  We have had some big weather changes almost every day.  We’ll have beautiful clear skies, with a lot of heat…and then we’ll have a lot of rain all of a sudden!  But this has been happening for weeks, so why bother me now?  (it has been increasing my headaches, but I haven’t noticed the disequilibrium before.)
  4. It’s just that time?  We all know Meniere’s is NOT predictable.  So maybe this is just the monster saying hello.

I’m still so grateful that I haven’t felt like this in a while, actually I’m not sure the last time.  Not much since the surgery in December.  I have to say, I’m thrilled with the results of that surgery.  I have only had one mini vertigo attack caused by Meniere’s since my recovery.  Yay!  The Endolymphatic Sac Surgery was a big success for me.

(I’m still waiting on our insurance company to send the right type of letter to Duke, so I can get my Cochlear Implant surgery scheduled.  They have been so evasive about this, how hard is it to say that this is covered under our plan as of this date with an in-network doctor.  As long as our plan doesn’t change everything should be the same.  NO, they send a letter saying they can’t give a predetermination, because the plan may be canceled or changed, the doctor may not be in-network…ect.   They never even say if it’s covered by our plan at the present time!  What a pain!  So I won’t be getting my CI activated before my birthday….I’m so disappointed.)

I promise to write a post about this whole journey, and show which processors I chose, as soon as I feel a bit less wonky.