Well I did it! The implant is in. I told very few people that I was going in to have it done. Only my parents, a couple of close friends and the eagle-eyed ones from whom I probably would not be able to hide a brand-new scar. I know I will cop some flak for this (I forgot that being a person with a disability means that my life is public property). But so be it.
And yes, I do see the irony in complaining about this in my blog…
It has been a week since the surgery, I am still a bit sore and the left side of my face and neck are still swollen. Occasionally I do feel a bit dizzy. This is all completely normal. There has also been no change in my hearing.
Now, before you grab your pitchfork and head towards the hospital where I had the operation in my defence, you should probably note that this is to be expected. The operation was to insert electrodes attached to a magnet under the skin which will help to hold the hearing device to my head once it is fitted and switched on in two weeks’ time. Without the outer parts, which will make the implant stimulate the nerves and tell my brain what I am hearing, it cannot do anything. There is a two-week gap between the surgery and switch on to allow time for the incision to heal.
I suppose I am lucky. Being the person going through it, I’m the one who gets all the facts. I’m the person briefed and who is told what will happen next. I have had so many people come up to me in the last few days and ask me, “can you hear properly now?” And who can blame them? As far as they know I have had my cochlear implant operation and the surgery was done to fix my hearing. It follows then that if the operation was a success, I must be able to hear better now. I have also had people say, “you must be so glad that it’s over” and both question demand the same answer. Patience young Jedi, the journey has only just begun.
On Wednesday night as we were on our way to collect far too much Chinese food which I had planned to gorge myself with before I started fasting (my last meal, if you will), my brother’s girlfriend Amy asked me if I was nervous. With the tally numbering over 30 surgeries now I was completely unfazed about the operation. In fact, I was quite looking forward to it (A whole week off work). Whoo hoo! I was not looking forward to the great expectation that came with it though
I knew that everyone would be excited. Partly because they knew how having the implant could improve my life and partly due to the possibility of them not having to repeat themselves a thousand times anymore. But I also knew how many of them have seen the iconic footage of the baby hearing for the first time so their hopes were very high and possibly unrealistic.
I found myself telling anyone who asked me about the operation not to expect too much. That the implant will not give me any “useful” hearing for at least six months and it will take up to a year of training my brain to recognise the sounds before I will get anything like “normal” hearing. Then, as with anything in life there is no guarantee. It’s highly unlikely but I may get no benefit at all.
It wasn’t that I was trying to put a dampener on the party. I just didn’t want them to be disappointed. That and the fact that it cut me some major slack.
After all these are only little shoulders.
Coming soon – what a cochlear implant really sounds like when it is first switched on!