An Emotional Journey to Bilateral Implants | Part IV

Kate reunited with her Cochlear Volunteer, a bilateral recipient, who reassured her that she was making the right decision.

She cannot wait any longer!

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15 June – Here is what the surgery was like…

So it’s been 8 days since I had the surgery for the 2nd implant. The days have passed in a fog. I’ve been dosed up on painkillers which left me very unsteady and woozy, unable to think straight. But I’ve felt no pain at all. I will be switched on tomorrow!

Wednesday morning was the surgery and this is what it was like…

It had thundered and poured all night, and the rain was still crashing down outside as we drove to the hospital. Traffic was chaos. When we got to the surgical area of the hospital, I had to say goodbye to Ben at the nurses’ desk. We hugged tightly, feeling like it was all happening too quickly.

I was then led into the pre-ward, where all the patients who were about to go into surgery were just lying there nervously, in neat rows, ready to be wheeled into one of the operating theatres. My bed was at the end of the ward. I got dressed in the gown and booties that were provided and lay down on the bed, fidgeting. I started to think “I cannot believe I am actually here, finally, and about to go into surgery”

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Nervously waiting to go into theatre

I nervously messaged my family from my phone, took a photo, and then my sister called me. I had a quiet and nervous conversation with her, and then suddenly, there was the wardsman appearing beside me, and saying it was time to go!

The wardsman pushed the bed on its wheels, fast, and we glided through the warren of rooms and corridors, feeling like I was going down a rabbit hole, passing people I didn’t know.

Then suddenly we stop gliding, and I am waiting, lying in the trolley bed, covered with a white hospital blanket, facing two big doors as if I am waiting for the beginning of a play or production.

I can hear and see some movement in through the glass porthole window up high… Then suddenly the doors burst open, and   out came a nurse who started asking me the same questions they’ve asked the previous 4 times – name, date of birth, and what procedure are you here for. As I rumble off my answers, she ticks a form, and then looks up brightly and says: “They’re almost ready, won’t be long now.” She puts a cannula in the back of my hand, and then disappears again.

Then the anaesthetist comes through, says hello, and administers a relaxant through the cannula. I am so grateful for this, because I can feel the slight feeling of hysteria rising. I am in control, but as I sit there for longer, each ticking minute makes my muscles more and more jumpy, and my brain flicker more violently.

Soon I am folding back, draping into the blankets and the bed, comforted, quiet, warm and relaxed.

Then suddenly the bed I am on is pushed into the operating theatre and then I am asked to move over to the operating bed, the faces start to blur, I am told they are injecting the anaesthetic, and that’s all I remember. I didn’t even get to count. I’m out!

2 hours later, I awake in the intensive care recovery ward.

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Post surgery

I blink. It’s bright. My cochlear implant processor is on my right hand side, the old ear, so that I can hear – it’s switched on. I am so tired and I feel like I’ve just had the most amazing, deep, blissful sleep…

I am awake now, and … I am alive!  It’s over! …. Thank god!

I look around me at the people in the beds. Each bed seems to have its own nurse, hovering and looking closely at the screens and monitors, not leaving the side of the patient. I have my own nurse too, I realise.

“How are you feeling?” She asks. “I’m okay.” I respond.

I remember last time I had this surgery, almost 8 years ago, I awoke feeling like I was gasping for air, pulling myself out of a sticky bed of sand, unable to breathe. This time was different, I woke gently, more naturally.

I blink again, my eyes feel out of joint, and I can’t focus for long on any object.

I’m given some juice. I can feel my arms and legs start to tremble, I think it’s a response to the anaesthetic. It’s difficult, but I try to calm my body, and manage to stop myself from shaking too much.

After 30 minutes, I am wheeled into my bed in the ward, I am sharing a room with another patient, Dawn, a woman in her 60s or 70s who has just received her first cochlear implant. The hospital ward is apparently full today!

I lie there, finally still, and feeling very tired and weighted down.

Then Ben comes in with a huge smile on his face, and gives me a hug. We are both so relieved that it’s all over.

Now I can feel my head. I lie gently, not touching anything, just feeling what I can feel.

There it is. Inside my head, near my ear. I can feel it.

A gentle ache. It’s done.

Now the next part of the journey can begin… Stay tuned!

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Views expressed by Cochlear recipients and hearing health providers are those of the individual. Please seek advice from your medical practitioner or health professional about treatments for hearing loss. They will be able to advice on a suitable solution for the hearing loss condition. Outcomes and results may vary. All products should be used only as directed by your medical practitioner or health professional. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative.

Cochlear, Hear now. And always and elliptical logo are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Cochlear Limited. D1255107 ISS1 JUL17 Cochlear © 2017 All rights reserved.

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