With the Thanksgiving Holiday around the corner, I want to share how grateful and thankful that I am. It has been a challenging few weeks as you will see, but all in all, I am grateful for many things. As you enjoy time with family and friends, count your blessings. I am thankful and grateful for the incredible support of my family, the amazing friends near and far who continue to cheer me on, and the Rockstar ENT and Audiology Team at The Ohio State University.
Post Surgery Reflections:
Over the past 10 days, I have had a lot of time to relax and recuperate which was much needed. The first week I experienced some good and not so good recovery days; each day I felt physically stronger and more energy. I continue to have the feeling of pressure/fluid in my left ear. I also experienced some blurry vision (when reading), which is also a side effect of the surgery and vestibular disturbance. The vision cleared up about 5 days after surgery.
One thing that I know as an audiologist and as a patient, is that I am going to be without hearing (or very little!) post CI surgery. However, nothing quite prepares you to have a sudden unilateral hearing loss. All of my life I have experienced the same degree of symmetrical hearing loss in both ears (audiogram). These past 10 days have created a “profound unilateral” challenge by taking away all of the hearing in my left ear. At first, I did not notice it too much because the physical pain of post surgery was on my mind. I also was in my house which was quiet and could control many factors that would compromise listening. Initially, I actually thought that I was along pretty well with just my right ear. I was able to talk to people on the phone with my right ear and carry on conversations with one other person at home.
After 5 days of being in the house and getting stir crazy, I felt well enough to venture out. Getting out of the house immediately challenged my “profound unilateral” loss and what a challenge it was! I quickly became hyperaware and alert of my surroundings. In the parking lot, I had to be visually vigilant of any car and became nervous about cars backing out of a parking space and hitting me. In a restaurant, I was overwhelmed by the background chatter and it took so much energy to hear. In Target, I could not localize where sounds were coming from and kept scanning my surroundings to be sure no one was actually trying to say something to me. Listening fatigue is REAL and emotionally and physically drains. Each small venture out resulted in a nap! Maybe this is God’s way of preparing me to embrace the little wonders of sound when I am activated with the CI.
Vulnerable and Courageous:
Timing is everything. Before this post-op appointment, discouragement began to creep back into my mind. Some of the questions that I feared pre-surgery began to slide into my thoughts…Was this the right decision? Is this going to work? Except now, there is no turning back. Timing is everything. I was watching Netflix and the episode “The Call to Courage” by Brene’ Brown popped up on shows to watch. In this episode, Brown talks about vulnerability. She describes vulnerability in this way; it is not about winning or losing, but it is about showing up when you don’t know the outcome. She also talked about choosing courage over comfort and the need to be brave in our own arena. If we deny our story, the story defines us. If we own our story, we write a brave new ending! In this time of waiting (and not hearing), I needed to hear this motivation.
10 Day Post Op Appointment
Motivation Self Talk for Post Op Appointment: I am ready to be vulnerable, I am ready to choose courage, and I am ready to own my story with a brave new ending!
My parents were able to come to this appointment today which I loved because they have been on this hearing journey my entire life! The appointment started with a CT scan to get a clear picture of the magnet and electrode placement (which was all good!). The next appointment was with Dr. Meghan Hiss and Dr. Jason Riggs (research audiologists). This was to determine to what extent some of my residual hearing was present under headphones as well as with the AIM (Active Insertion Monitoring) system. My post-op audiogram measured residual hearing in the low frequencies (which is AWESOME), but there is still a lot of fluid (from the surgery) causing a conductive loss as well. This is one reason I personally do not perceive having hearing in my left ear at this time. The AIM system is also indicating ECoch responses which supports my audiogram as well.
Lastly, I met with Dr. Adunka. He is pleased with the result of the CI surgery, the healing process, and structure/hearing preservation. He indicated the fluid will take a little more time to clear up. Otherwise, he will see me as a patient in 1 year unless I have questions! Thankful for such an amazing and skilled surgeon.
Timing is everything. I needed today’s appointment mentally. Anxiety has a way of mentally creeping back and causing doubt. Today allowed me to be vulnerable and courageous. I am ready to OWN my HEARING Story in this BRAVE new world of sound.
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to again THANK all of you who have allowed me to be vulnerable and courageous and who encourage me to stay strong. “Give thanks with a grateful heart” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Next Blog: ACTIVATION DAY!!!