Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Approaching Activation

So my activation is tomorrow.  Wow.

It was not supposed to happen so soon, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to inquire about an early activation.  My assertiveness paid off.

Let me back up and discuss the post-operation period a bit.  When I went for my follow up appointment yesterday, I questioned if I was healing as expected.  I was caught off guard by an uncomfortable period in my recovery, and I was baffled that my discomfort was growing worse instead of better.

Several days following my operation,  my cochlear implant optimism really started to wane.   Up until that point, I had made it through the annoying and difficult-to-eat phases of Days 1 and 2.  I was fatigued, certainly, but I gave myself permission to ignore the housework and sleep as needed in my very comfortable bed.  Jeff had also voluntarily moved himself to the couch for a few days; though deaf on the right side, my left ear-sadly- can not escape Jeff snoring.   In a way, my recovery was becoming a mini-vacation, with tropical daquiris and views of the beach being replaced by Tylenol with codeine tablets and Bravo reality shows.  This whole surgery thing wasn’t so bad!

Jeff's reaction when I sent him the picture of Pammy Pumpkinhead?
But then Day 3 hit.  The right side of my head had remained pretty numb up until this point, but as sensation started to return, I grew more uncomfortable.  Not only that, but the right side of my head started to expand.  It started to feel like my head wasn’t stretchy enough to hold all the puffiness, and it resulted in this throbbing pressure, and an outward appearance of what I like to call “Pammy Pumpkinhead.” Though I was starting to feel pain, I didn’t have many pain pills left.  The mini-vacation wasn't such a fun time anymore.

It was around this time that my mom-guilt also started to kick in.  Claire's 5th birthday fell on Day 5 of post-op, and I had promised her I would make cupcakes (even though others had offered to bake on my behalf.  I realize I'm still struggling with letting others help me).  One of my character strengths is that when I commit to a project, I like to develop something unique and very special-- especially when it comes to my kids and their birthdays.   As a result, I've created some great memories for my family.  At the same time, I've also collected a lot of stress and tension; my projects are never as simple as I imagine them to be!  By the third damn cupcake, I was tired and messy and wondering why I didn't just pay someone to make professionally decorated baked goods.  (Someone remind me of this next time I start to bake anything that involves decorating, please).  

Cupcakes created during my recovery.  It was my baby's 5th birthday, after all!
On Day 4, the kids, Jeff, and I left the house to obtain my supplies for Project Cupcake.  I was sick of being in the house and ready to experience life outside of my bedroom.  The trip was my first adventure with my silent right ear.  In addition to being a bit uncomfortable, I was also off balance.  Driving in the car felt like I was on a roller coaster, and my depth perception was also impacted.  While shopping, I felt like I was about to fall over my children walking ahead of me.  With only one ear to guide me, loud stores were just a cacophony of noisy sounds.  I realized how difficult it was to really understand the world around me with just the left ear.

By the time our trip was complete and I had spent two hours baking and decorating cupcakes, I was DONE. The pressure in my right ear was pretty bothersome.  Over the night and into the next day, the pressure intensified and my balance continued to be affected.  By the time the post-op appointment came around, I was dizzy and nauseated, and frightened to drive.  Jeff accompanied me to the appointment and the surgeon was quick to identify that I had more swelling than usual.   He thought it was a result of a blood clot behind the incision, which was causing all the pressure.  I went through a series of x-rays to confirm.  After, the surgeon informed Jeff and me that the clot had not impacted the healing, and he thought I could be activated early next week.

Initially, I pictured scheduling the appointment for Monday, the earliest possible day in the work week.  But as I thought about it further, I asked myself, "What is the big difference- really- between activation on Monday and the Friday before?"  

I asked the receptionist about the possibility of a Friday activation and learned the audiologist, Dr. Susan, would not be in her office that day.  But after considering the Friday possibility, I was fired up and decided I wanted activation as soon as possible.  Two celebrations are occurring this weekend- a party for my daughter, and my son's first communion- and I just want to hear something.

"How about Thursday?" I asked.

The receptionist went on and on about how she wasn't sure if she was supposed to schedule anyone on that day and she would have to talk to the audiologist and call me. I provided contact information and in the mean time, I remembered I had a secret weapon: my audiologist's email address.

On the way home, I wrote an email to Dr. Susan and told her about the upcoming weekend's events.  

I received this response: "How about 1:00 on Thursday?   You do understand that you may not hear at the activation.   You will hear sounds, but may not understand speech, which can take months.    I don't want you to have these high expectations that you will hear this communion service..."

I took the appointment.  Though I've been reminded, once again, to keep my expectations in check, I'm really not going into the activation thinking that the audiologist will hit a button and BOOM!  Pam can hear!  I know I am going to have a lot of work and rehabilitation ahead of me. I anticipate certain sounds will be unidentifiable and bizarre at first.  Instead of high expectations, truly, I have no idea what I'm about to experience.  Though I have watched plenty of you tube videos, and though others have shared their activation experiences with me, I am not prepared for tomorrow.   I don't know how I could be.  Of course, I'm extremely curious to start my new life with the cochlear implant.

I'm struggling to find an appropriate ending to this post, so I leave you with this image of a happy little Pam who loved to dance, and who I believe at the time, could hear pretty normally.  I wonder what sounds I'll hear again that will remind me of this time period?  I'll start to find out tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. Good luck. Eventually, and at your convenience, listen to Beyonce and Jennifer and they'll make you feel better: