Recovering from my Cochlear Implant Operation

Recovering from my Cochlear Implant Operation
The first few hours
There were about 10 other patients in the recovery ward. The clock showed 3:10pm, just 3 hours since I had climbed up onto that operating table. I had a huge tight bandage around my head. I felt woozy and the oxygen mask made me feel as if I couldn’t breathe so I kept trying to pull it off. I was asked if I wanted to put my old implant processor back on. I said yes but my arms were weak, I couldn’t hold them up for long and I couldn’t get the coil into position under the tight bandage. The nurse tried but she didn’t really know where it needed to go. I gave up, so the nurse held a sign in front of me “Your operation is over. Everything went well.” I felt light headed and disoriented – sometimes everything was totally clear - other times I lapsed back into semi-consciousness. I had no pain.

A short time later I was back in the ward where my husband was waiting. By now I was conscious most of the time but feeling spaced out. No pain but on a drip for hydration and antibiotics. I dozed on and off throughout the rest of the afternoon, each time waking a little disoriented when my blood pressure and temperature was taken. If I moved to sit up I felt dizzy and shrunk back to the bed. But by dinner time the anaesthetic had worn off and all I felt was tired, uncomfortable and fragile.

Later that evening I started walking and found my balance was only marginally affected, swaying a little as I got to my feet with a couple of woozy episodes quickly abating. However, the tinnitus in my operated ear rose to a deafening crescendo, screeching louder than a flock of cockatoos fighting over a pine forest. Throughout the night the nurses woke me hourly (ever so gently!) to take my blood pressure (108/46 it dropped to at one stage) and temperature to ensure no infection was setting in. While I had a little ear ache I had no real pain but was given a couple of Panadeine to help me sleep.

Overnight I had only been allowed out of bed with a nurse by my side but by morning I was up and about by myself. After a shower I felt much better and able to face the day. At regular intervals I received intravenous antibiotics to combat any nasty bacteria.

The surgeon visited early and explained the operation and told me my taste nerve had been bruised. He had scheduled an xray to make sure the electrodes were all in position. Shortly after, my husband arrived – flowers, chocolate and Scrabble under his arm. [At home we had a Scrabble game in progress but hadn’t had time to finish it so he wrapped up the tiles on their little tray and took a photo of the board so he could reposition all the tiles. It took me all afternoon to play about 4 moves (and yes I won!).]

While I do have some taste disorder it is more in the line of a blank place on my tongue rather than getting wrong tastes. Taste testing the chocolate proved it did not taste bad. What a relief! (Later: my taste has not yet normal 6 weeks after the operation and I have a constant sweet taste in my mouth)
That first day I quickly felt back to normal. The big bandage came off so I was far more comfortable. I had a shunt (needle) in my hand to take the drip and also to administer the 48 hours of antibiotics. While this needle had been taped to the back of my hand it stuck out past my knuckles so when I tried to move upright in bed using my arms to brace myself I managed to bend this needle over, making it quite painful. At one stage I thought I might even have broken it off. The second night, despite being very tired I found it difficult to sleep (those hospital beds are so comfortable – not!). I had my laptop and some DVDs (with captions of course) so using my audio cord, I plugged directly into my current implant processor and used this entertainment to while away the dark hours.

Going home
It was Saturday and after a night of poor sleep I didn’t feel terribly good, sitting in a chair feeling sorry for myself when the surgeon arrived. He seemed worried at the way I looked but as soon as he knew it was lack of sleep he decided it would be a good idea for me to go home as planned.

By the time I was packed and ready my husband had arrived. The drive home was hard. I felt bad and it was a long drive. Once home however, straight into bed and I slept most of the rest of the day.

A couple of days later
Two days later I was up and about as normal and I returned to work 6 days after the operation. All I had to do now was wait for the healing and look forward to switch on.

Next Week: The Telemetry Test and Switch on

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