Friday, April 20, 2012

Surgery Day

Jeff and I post-surgery with my new friend, "Jock Strap"
When I woke up in the recovery room, my first thought was: "It's over?" 

I touched the top of my head and was surprised- and pleased-  to not be wrapped up in bandages, turban-style, as I anticipated.  (After consulting with other recipients, I feel quite blessed that I received the prestigious velcro bandage that I affectionately nicknamed the “jock strap.”  It’s easily removable and pretty comfortable.  I got lucky.)

While touching the bandage, I immediately thought, "Can I still hear?"

I started banging the bed, clapping my hands, snapping my fingers... making any possible noise to see if my right ear got anything.  In my drug-induced state, I was certain the right ear was still hearing.  I even grabbed the male nurse next to me and told him, “Hey! I think I can still hear!”  I then looked up to God and said, "Thank you."  And lastly, I looked around and realized other patients were in the room with me, also trying to recover before heading to post-op, and being forced to listen to the young woman with a jock strap attached to her head, happily clapping and snapping. 

I also realized it was about 4:30 in the afternoon, which meant I had not seen Jeff for over three hours.  I didn't even remember saying goodbye to him, but when I woke up, I wanted to see him immediately.  The drugs made me comfortable, and I was also very loving.  I told the nurses how nice they were several times (I wasn't making it up-- they WERE nice), and I kept asking for my husband, telling the nurses I love him and that he's really sweet and handsome.  (That IS the truth, though the drugs certainly provoked me to be more candid than usual with complete strangers).  Luckily, Jeff and I were reunited before 5 PM, and he informed me per his discussion with the surgeon that everything had gone perfectly.  I was feeling great.

Although surgery day was a bit of a blur, I can recall some specific memories before heading off to the hospital.  One of those times is when I said goodbye to the kids; if you’ve been following the blog, you know I’ve pictured this scene in my mind repeatedly and that I’ve cried instantly when thinking about it.   As a mother, it was a very touching moment for me, but I didn't break down crying on Colin and Claire’s little shoulders like I pictured.

The individual goodbyes from the kids were reflective of their personalities.  Claire was first.   She wrapped her tiny arms around me and said, "I love you, Mommy, and I hope you have a very good surgery."  Then she sweetly put her mouth next to cheek and just for my right ear, she whispered, "I love you, Mommy."  She walked out the door to her ride to school, blowing me kisses and mouthing "I love you" until she got in the car.  She is the best.

Colin was next.  He hugged me too, although it was more like ME hugging HIM, and that was expected with an eight year old boy.  He mumbled he loved me, but the best part about Colin's goodbye was his honestly.

"I don't get why we are acting sad when this surgery is going to make you hear BETTER!" he said.

It was a good point, very Jeff-like, and a reminder of all the blessings to come.  Colin wasn’t worried because he realized in time, not just my life, but our lives were going to improve.  Colin's not the kind of kid who is going to whisper sugar-coated Hallmark card phrases to me (that's what Claire is for, after all), but Colin can be very wise.  His perspective cut through the anxiety I was feeling and made me remember the bigger picture.

It wasn’t soon after I said goodbye to Colin and Claire that Jeff and I were off to the hospital.  And remarkably, I was quiet, calm… I didn’t cry.    Once we arrived, things moved quickly.  After putting on the hospital gown and a bit of a wait, I remember Jeff telling me it was “show time,” though I don’t specifically recall saying goodbye to him.  I somewhat remember being wheeled into a room where it seemed as though there were nurses everywhere preparing me for surgery… one was putting massage-like things on my legs, one was putting sticky circles and wires on my chest…   I remember seeing my name on a whiteboard in that room, and I remember saying a prayer for all the people who had offered so much love and support to me over the last few weeks.

The next thing I knew, I was making a lot of noise in the recovery room and telling people how cute my husband is!  And I was so grateful… I just knew when I woke up that I made the right decision to go through with the surgery.  I just knew I was going to be okay.

Almost 48 hours later, I’m still okay.  I have experienced many of the normal side effects from the procedure.  I’ve had a hard time eating (my jaw is sore) but smoothies are one of my favorite foods anyway!  My taste buds have also changed; I was warned of a metallic taste in my mouth, and sure enough, the flavor of food is pretty dulled.  In the first 24 hours, I had very minimal pain, but as Day 2 approached, swelling increased.  In addition to looking a bit like a hobbit, my head and neck also hurt.  Thank God for pain meds, and don’t worry!  I am taking them regularly!

Also, as soon I was given the okay to take the jock strap off, I had Jeff put a headphone in my right ear and play a song without telling me what it was… and I got nothing.  So, as I was warned, I assume I am officially deaf in my right ear.  What is unexpected, however, is that I really had to perform the headphone test to know for sure.  It is amazing how much my left ear compensates (which is why I thought I was still hearing out of the right side in the post-op room).  Also remarkable is though I can’t hear sound out of my right ear, I still sense energy on that side.  It’s a strange sensation to explain but I spoke with a friend who is deaf and he understood what I meant.  I thought I would be sad to lose the hearing, but honestly, the circumstance just fascinates me!  As a blog commenter so eloquently put, my story is an example of losing first in order to gain. And I certainly feel I am gaining more than losing.  With your love and support, I've gained strength, courage, excitement, and an increasing sense of peace. Of course, I'll also be gaining a lot of sound in the right side soon.  I just need to heal a bit first.

The post-operation appointment is scheduled for April 24th and the activation appointment will be next.  In the mean time, I remain on pain meds with jock strap nearby in case I need him, and I send all of you much love and gratitude!  Thank you!


  1. Pam, this is your best one yet. Mom

  2. Glad to hear that the surgery went well. Godspeed with your recovery.

    Matt Andrus

  3. So happy to hear that everything went well, prayers for a speedy recovery =)

  4. Pam, I'm so happy to hear that things are going so well so far. If I could, I would make you a My Favorite Muffin Frappalatte! I check every day to see if you've posted a new blog so please keep updating.

    Gretchen (Hansen) Fritz

  5. Yay!! You're kids sound so sweet. The best is yet to come! Can't wait to hear about the activation. I've seen videos of it and it makes me cry every time. Good luck with the sounds like you're in the best hands!!

  6. Congratulations Pam! I am so excited for you and your family. Praying for a speedy recovery. Can't wait to "hear" the next step.

  7. You came through this exactly as I thought you would. You are an incredible young women with an astoundingly supportive husband and precious children. Nothing can go wrong. Keep healing and I look forward to reading your next Blog with yet more progress! YOU ARE SO SPECIAL!

  8. Ugh....the saying good-bye to Claire had me sobbing....
    Keeping you in prayer for healing...thank you for sharing your story....Carrie

  9. Glad to hear from you and glad it went well.

  10. Thanks for all the love! I am doing well. Getting better and stronger day by day!
    Love, Pam

  11. So glad to see that things went well with the surgery! I have found all your messages so moving. Thank you for sharing your story!
    Trisha Dunham
    (Rae's mom from dance class)

    1. So glad you read it, and so nice to hear from you. See you soon, and say hello to Rae!

  12. I am so glad everything went well!! I've been reading your blogs and you are such a strong person! Thank you for sharing your story with all of us! I can't wait for the blog when you can hear everything!!
    Nikki Strain Burchfield

    1. Hi Nikki! Thanks for writing. I won't be able to hear EVERYTHING (at least, not right away) but it is really exciting to hear sounds I haven't heard in years or perhaps, EVER! Activation is tomorrow! WOOHOO!

  13. Pam,
    I just read about your surgery and I hope you are doing well. Jeanne and I knew nothing about it! We both hope you are doing fantastic, if not get there girl and we will help you out any way we can.

    Our love and prayers are with you girl,
    Beth & Jeanne