30 October 2008

Splendid Isolation

Well here we are again in the isolation tank.

What you been doing today, anything? Me neither.
Been scrabbling a bit, I mean Lexulousing [boo hiss Hasbro!] during this period of convalescence. Bit of reading, a LOT of blogging, what with the Curse, AcmeNews [due any day now], Carcinoma diary [updated for Cochlear]. Poor old MyRecipes is feeling a bit left out! Maybe next week.

So the GP checked the wound yesterday - nice and dry. Little bit of dizziness today. Not so much that the boat is sailing the bounding vein but more like the plane is navigating in a strong headwind. 

And the inevitable lethargy. Went out this morning, just to get out, get the mail, maybe have a cuppa at NortyPlaza or lunch. Had to come back. This operation has been different from others. Longer, so maybe the anaesthetic has taken a greater toll and there's more damage, what with tonsils in the way, bruising.

If the weather picks up tomorrow [Friday, rumoured to be 36C] maybe 'Sculpture by the Sea' maybe see you there! Otherwise might get some pics - material for the next instalment...

Good Night!   

28 October 2008

Animated movie explains the mechanism

Here is the movie from the Cochlear people.
It explains how the mechanism delivers sound to the brain.
[requires Flash and a fast connection]

Cochlear Ltd YouTube Channel - http://au.youtube.com/user/CochlearLtd
[captions included]
Cochlear Ltd Home page - Cochlear Ltd

Recovery underway

Well it's been almost a week.
Today I have metallic taste - whether this is nerve effect or the fact that my poor tongue was mangled a bit during the operation is a bone of contention.
No more blood from the tonsil, also mangled.
[Was the anaesthetist trying to park his car in there or something?]
Bruised neck.
Swelling seems to be going.
I had a minimal black eye, that's still there.
Wound is nice and dry - haven't been able to wash hair for a week. Good thing it's only 0.5cm long!
The GP will check the state of the wound tomorrow and I expect that the dressing will be removed.

27 October 2008

After Switch-on

In the quest for maximum input for the recipient the SCIC people have already scheduled me for a series of appointments, starting with the 'Switch-on', which is just about as ceremonial as one can get!
Only thing missing is a certificate or TShirts [hmmm business opportunity brewing].
They encourage you to have your relatives on-site when the initial activation occurs, and as with so much of the stuff, encourage you to fully-inform [I mean fully] of the activities you're about to undertake.
I can see how the initial Switch-on could be a very emotional time. I'm prepared for the inevitable tears. And I think I won't be the only one bawling my eyes out either. [Should that be neither? Hmm, maybe a double-negative on the 'won't']
Anyway, so we have Switch-on on 12 November as previously-mentioned. That'll be the most emotional part, although I can think of other emotional parts - first hearing of butcher birds, your voice, surf, music, the iPhone [I've yet to hear one ring]. So please excuse any lacrimonious lapses should they occur.
After that, there's appointments set for weeks 1, 2, 4, 8 and 12. The 6 monthly and yearly reviews. Talk about thorough.

So that's the next six months taken care of - tweaking the settings and other SCIC activities, lip-reading, and doing the blog. Who has any more time?!

24 October 2008

Another Date with Destiny

The date for switch-on has been set to 12 November 2008.

On that date I'll be fitted with the external part of the mechanism called the Speech Processor.

And thats just the start of the process of fine-tuning, getting the optimal result for my situation.

I aim to hear you talking, butcher birds singing, TV. It probably won't be normal or immediate but thats the goal.

Before and After Shots

Here is a shot of the rear of my right ear before the surgery. Hair cut especially short for the operation [sorry about the crap weather on Wednesday and Thursday - when I get a short haircut, the weather always turns nasty] 

Straight-on side shot - Nice and neat. I think it will come back to that, with a little bulge behind the ear, if others' experience is anything to go on.

Hi-ho, hi-ho it's off to the Op we go...
Let's see - got the booties, got the sack of gear in the pink bag. Very stylish.

Post-op. I woke up with this pillow attached to the side of me 'ead.
Bit out of it. Slept most of the next day.
Of course it's "the bed number of doom" but not of my choice.

Here's the aftermath. Not too bad a job. should tidy-up quite nicely and with a bit of hair you'll never notice it. There'll be a "hearing-aid" looking device there later, so you'll see that, although hair should cover that too.
Notice the purple dot on my ear-lobe - that means "This one, not the other one..."

New Tinnitus Channels

Update 22 October 2008
I had my Cochlear implant on wednesday.
The tinnitus is still going strong and different. Sometimes softer, sometimes louder, always different.

New channels
• Mens choir [cant quite make out what they're singing]
• Paris ambulance is back after a long absence
• Men speaking in the next room
• New musical soundtrack
• Sound of outboard motor, or motorbike engine

23 October 2008

Date with Destiny

The twenty-second of October 2008 will go down in history as the date I received my Cochlear Implant.
The operation apparently went for four hours, under ten minutes from my perspective. I remember being in the ante-chamber with the anaesthetist [anaesthesiologist to the americans] then being wheeled into the operating room [O.R. to the americans]. They had given me some injections via one of those easy-injectorisers in my poor hand. Then I woke up somewhat groggy in another room. 
I had a pillow tied to the side of my head. And it ached.
My mouth was VERY dry [remember, no saliva] after not drinking since 10pm the previous [tuesday] night [3pm wednesday by now].
The rest of the day was spent drifting in and out of restless, not even, slumber. More like re-unconsciousness. Not restful.
In and out of sleep until 2:30 thursday, got up walked around the darkened ward, back to bed, repeat every hour or so until 6am when they get EVERYBODY up. Get OUT!

So, they'd damaged my right tonsil [yes I still have them] forcing a tube down my throat [hurts, and blood too] but generally a neat job. Can't get anything wet ear-wise for at least 2 weeks and I'm on antibiotics and paracetamol for the not very much pain [considering].

Right now 9pm thursday - it's a bleak nite outside. Just had some family over for dinner. Right of my head aches. Tired.
Let's hope.

21 October 2008

Big Wednesday

The big day is tomorrow. Coincidentally my #1 cochlear contact is having his second implant the same day [Me - RPAH, he - Westmead]. There's too many coincidences in this exercise.

How do I feel about it?
After so many operations and treatments over the past six years I'm prepared, not worried. I hope that the result is as good as many say it is. I mean many. Not looking forward to the prolonged recovery and acclimatisation ahead. Boredom will inevitably set-in, I'll be ready for 'switch-on' in three weeks or so. And I hope I can hear something, but there's no guarantees.

On TV a couple of weeks ago I saw on 'Talking Heads' an interview with the cochlear pioneer Prof Graeme Clark. Impressed with his humility but also his drive to achieve "perfect hearing" for implantees. I emailed him as soon as the program finished.
Transcript here

14 October 2008

The Call was Received

Today I received the call that I have been scheduled for the installation of a Cochlear Implant. The operation will occur on Wednesday 22 October 2008.
More news as it happens

13 October 2008

Lip-reading Classes

We attended our first lip-reading class today.

A bit daunting at first. We were the newcomers and they all seemed very social.
We started off slowly and my minder said they were acting as though I wasn't deaf - she had to keep reminding them - he can't hear, he's deaf! Hard of hearing is a relative thing, I'm at the bottom of the scale, but also at the top from the other point of view.

It appears I have [as I suspected] been unconsciously lip-reading to a degree. [There can be no lip-reading if your head's in the cupboard can there?]
I was able to get the gist of a lot of what was said. Of course the teacher was speaking very clearly for the class. Some things came out ridiculous. Luckily I could check what was actually said on another sheet of paper! Numbers came quite easily.

After an intense hour of lip-reading the class finished and our classmates all scuttled off to parts unknown. We signed-up and paid the subscription. I can certainly recommend the class, even if you're not completely deaf!

We also met two volunteers who are themselves cochlear recipients. They all seem like a nice bunch, mature. One fellow said [I think] "Dont worry we'll take care of you" and I think they will.

Better Hearing Australia [Sydney]

I met Rick

I went to his office in the city.
We met in Martin Place - I think he picked me out, wearing all black adrift on the sea of suits. I suppose I stood out.

We went to his office and spoke generally but also specifically about some aspects of the implant only a recipient might now. Like how things sound via the implant. Also some handy tips - DVD player on the train while commuting [he's a movie buff, something else to talk about] with the implant off and the subtitles ON.

[This is a big thing - some of you will know that I enjoy the odd movie, in a cinema. How can I do that now without subtitles? No dialogue, no music, no sound effects]

Anyway it was a very positive meeting. He's very accommodating as are all the cochlear community. I think it is a community.