Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Activation Day - August 12th

Finally, the day arrives to turn on the implant. Just wanted to let you all know how today went. The implant was activated late this morning around 11:45. We had to come back at 11:30 since the 10am appointment was never recorded in their book. I had the appointment card as proof so they had to squeeze us in somehow today. For a moment, I thought we wouldn't get the implant activated today, but I sure am glad this was possible.

First sounds I heard were somewhat like pulses or "heartbeats" in my head. Every time a word was spoken, these beats would occur in my brain. So I will need to learn these pulses and associate it with whatever I'm hearing. The TV produces a lot of these pulses so for now, I turned the TV off as it gives me a slight headache. Watching TV is sort of like I'm in a rock concert, but with muffled sounds. Toni Landau (audiologist) has added three levels of programs for my processor, so for today, I will be on program 1. Tomorrow, I will change to program 2. For Thursday and Friday, I will move up to program three to help me acclimate to the "noise".

I will go back to the audiologist on Friday afternoon 2:30pm for a tune up. This will be one of many appointments that we will do each week until I am able to distinguish words and sounds. This hearing journey will be a long process based on today's activity. But I look forward to learning how to interpret it all. And I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Follow up Visit - July 25th

My son, Brock and I visited with the doctor today for my surgery follow-up. Dr. Bhansali took the staples out quickly. Only one of the seven staples did make me wince but all others were taken out nicely. I was very impressed with his skills. Only problem I have is the lingering feeling of no taste on the right side of my tongue. Dr Bhansali said that at this point, a nerve was probably cut that affected this sense and that time will restore this feeling back. Hopefully, that will happen before our next appointment.

My next visit is scheduled for Tuesday, August 12th. This is the day we will activate the implant. I am looking forward to it!!! I received the Advanced Bionics Hi-Res processor kit from the audiologist and will review the CD and read up on the accessories brochures and materials.

Many thanks to you all who have sent me cards, emails and called our house to find out how I was doing. I hope you all are enjoying my blogs!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two days after surgery - July 18th

Friday was the day I could take the bandages off my head and take a shower. What a relief. The scar doesn’t look that bad. It runs from the back of my right ear straight up the side of head about six inches. There is a patch of baldness just above my ear. The sight of it looks strange. (See pictures of my scar). There are seven staples instead of stitches. I was able to run my hair through the shower and it felt so good. The feeling of numbness and tastelessness still remains on the right side of my tongue. Doctor said that was one of the side effects of the anesthesia and will eventually wear off. Doctor’s office called to check on my recovery and reminded us that our follow up visit would be next Friday, on July 25th. I’m looking forward to the date. That will be the day that I will pick up the Advanced Bionic processor kit package. I will need to get familiar with the accessories and charge up the batteries before my activation date. I will find out when that will happen at this visit and let everyone know ASAP.

Day of Surgery - July 16th

Surgery was planned for 8:45am Wednesday morning, July 16th. I had to be at Northside Hospital for surgery prep by 6:45am. We made it to the hospital by 7am. Surgery was expected to take 2 hours and then recovery another hour or two. I was wheeled into the operating room by 8:35 and woke up at 2:45. I couldn’t believe it took so long. I thought something had gone wrong. I later learned that I still had fluid in my body so they had to insert a catheter. This extended the surgery and recovery time in the OR recovery room. After I was awake for 30 minutes, I was wheeled into a private room and Melinda met me in the room. I was pleased to see her again. I was still feeling groggy and my throat was sore and raw from the breathing tube. The anesthesia had a side effect on my tongue, rendering it numb with no taste sensation. The nurse gave me some Cepacol to help relieve the soreness in my throat. The nurse provided dinner for me around 5pm. Dinner was a warm cup of beef broth, lime jello and orange popsicle. That Popsicle felt so good and soothing in my mouth and throat. The beef broth was just too warm for my throat so I let it cool off for awhile. After finishing off the meal, the nurse wanted me to get up and start walking in the hallway. I was looking forward to going home so I walked around the nurse station twice. Walking made me go to the bathroom and I then was able to see the bandage around my head in the mirror for the first time. (See pictures of my head bandages.) I was in good shape and ready for discharge by 6:30 pm. We stopped at Walgreens by the house to drop off the prescription for my anti-biotic medicine. We were home from the hospital by 7:30 pm. Melinda went back to Walgreens to pick up the medicine and returned home. After taking the medicine, I was plumb tired and slept on the sofa throughout the night. It wasn’t that bad after all.

Pre-Op Surgery Appointment - July 8th

I visited with Dr. Bhansali on July 8th for pre-op evaluation. The doctor asked if I decided which model I wanted to be implanted with. I told him that I wanted to go with Advanced Bionics Hi-Res Harmony. He asked which ear will have the implant. I chose my right ear. Since I usually drive the family car, I wanted to be able to hear everyone out of my right ear which would be closer inside the car than next to the window. I sit on the left side of our den sofa so it made better sense to me to have the implant on the right ear so I could listen to conversation from my right. Melinda sleeps on my right, so I wanted to try to listen to her from my right ear before we go to sleep. After our appointment, I had to go to the hospital to have chest x-rays and blood tests done before going home. All of the tests were positive for me to proceed with the surgery the following week. I hope that all goes well.

Days leading up CI decision

In April, I started looking into cochlear implants and asked my ENT doctor for some referrals. He gave me three names and I went to visit one of the doctors on the list. The doctor was Dr. Sanjay Bhansali. His office is located near Northside Hospital in Atlanta.

Dr. Bhansali did his customary examination review of my health and looked in my ears and started listening to me. One of his first comments was that I wasn’t deaf. Apparently, my speech skills were such of a level beyond a deaf patient that he was accustomed to seeing in his practice. At first, that really irked me, but then I must admit that in hindsight, I was thankful that I was the person I am today because of my parent’s insistence to raise me in the oral method. Nevertheless, after looking over my audiogram results, he said that I was profoundly deaf and that I was an excellent potential candidate for a cochlear implant. I would need to complete several other hearing tests and get an MRI of my head and ear to verify the candidacy. After looking over the MRI images and the ENG test, the doctor confirmed that I would be a good candidate for CI surgery.

My wife, Melinda and I then arranged a visit with Debbie Brilling, Executive Director at Auditory-Verbal Center, to discuss the cochlear implant. Her children and father are cochlear implant recipients. This visit allowed us to see all three brands of the cochlear implant devices and processors. The Advanced Bionics processor appeared to be the best processor available. Our visit with Debbie was very educational for us. We felt strongly that this was the best path for me to take to hear better. [I have set up links on the side for you to refer to on both the Auditory-Verbal Center and all three companies that make the cochlear implant processors, Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas and Med-El Corporation.]

Our family also had the pleasure to meet with one of the Auditory-Verbal Center therapist, MaryAnn Costin at a piano audition at the home of my first therapist, Quida Lanier. Quida helped my parents teach me to lip read and speak orally way before Auditory-Verbal Center was born. Mary Ann Costin’s vast knowledge and valuable input was another instrumental factor in cementing my decision to go with the cochlear implant.

After discussing this over a weekend with my wife and family members, I was ready to commit to the CI surgery. We asked the doctor to initiate insurance coverage approval for the surgery. The doctor’s office set up a date for the surgery to be done on June 23rd. After waiting three weeks, we received a letter from the insurance company requesting additional tests results. I had to go back to the audiologists to complete these tests. The doctor’s office then submitted the results back to the insurance review. Within one week, we received approval letter from the insurance company that we could proceed with the surgery. Needless to say, I was very relieved and excited that this could be done without spending so much money. The total cost of the surgery may end up over $50,000, but with insurance coverage approval, we would pay our 10% share. We got a call from the doctor’s office that there was a cancellation and if we wanted to, we could move up the surgery to July 16th. We agreed to do so.

Our family took a vacation to St. Simons Island over the 4th of July to spend time with my parents, brother, sister and their family. I told everyone that we had received approval from the insurance company and would go ahead with the CI surgery on July 16th. I showed video clips from both Advanced Bionics and Cochlear Institute to show my family how the implant works and the impact that the cochlear implants had on some of their patients. They were all excited and happy to see a possible brighter future for me. I just wished that I had this done years earlier.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Blog Site for my Family & Friends

Dear Family & Friends,

I created this blog site to journalize my travel on my new cochlear implant journey. I hope these pages will help you stay in touch with me and experience my trials on the path to better hearing!

From time to time as time permits, I will update this blog site with some of my experiences and share them with you. I want you all to know that I appreciate your continued interest and support in my journey. Please feel free to email me or blog back any comments or questions you may have. I will try my best to answer them in a timely fashion.

I must forewarn you at this time. I do not plan to keep this updated on a daily basis. Only as events unfold and warrant a splash on these pages. I believe that the intent is to make this an annual long journey and will cease updating the blog after the anniversary of my activation date. If by any chance, there is considerable interest after this time, I may pursue chronicling my journey further in another blog.

Love to you all. Pleasure readings!