How am I doing, 8 days after bi-lateral surgery

A lot of people asks me how I am doing, so I better post an update Smilefjes
If you want to know more about Cochlear-implants, click linked image below to read more…

pic-cochlear

Compared to the first surgery I underwent in 2009, this operation was a walk in the park. My surgeon specializes in gentle surgery, and I can tell you, my first CI-surgeon was a butcher compared to Dr. Med. Marie Bunne.

Some of my blog posts from the days after my first surgery (listed by date of publishing): day 3: Feeling beaten up… , Day 5 – From dull to sharp – in many ways , On the operating-table , Post-Surgery and The Day after , Tinnitus maximus terrorismus and some of the other posts from 2009 mentions the problems with balance (Oct., Nov. and Dec. 2009).

The upside

I have been up and about ever since day two. Today, 8 days after, I’m starting doing the annual accounting work for my company, nageldata.no. In other words, back to work, even if it’s just tedious easy work… First surgery had me bound to bed for two-three months!

The surgery-wound dressing fell off two days ago, and I didn’t bother replace it, since the wound is dry and looks beautiful. I mess as little as possible with it. It is itchy from time to time, but I just rub the skin close to the stiches, that’s enough.positive-attitude

Sleep has been good, except for the pain. The first nights I was, just like after first surgery, just deep into the sleep (medication plus recovering from surgery trauma). Bliss. Now it’s slowly getting back to normal, that is; waking easier by smell, light or movement. I expect pain from pressure from head lying on pillow on the “wrong” side disappears in a day or three.

I’m looking forward to a much quicker recovery this time, and that is not wish-thinking. I have plans to take up swimming as soon as the wound is healed and stitches are gone. That will speed up balance-recovery as well as improve the tinnitus-situation.

Speaking of tinnitus, there has not been much difference in tinnitus this time. The first surgery was followed by an explosion of tinnitus, mostly in the operated ear. But also in my left ear, due to the sudden silence (I could not bear to use the hearing aid, it wasn’t of any use. On the contrary, it was outright painful. This time it has been a few episodes in the newly operated ear, but they have been mild, like they were before the surgery. And there is the same constant sound it has been the last two years, sounding like a power relay station, that humming sound.

The downside

negative-space-9I’m dizzy, on the verge of nauseous. It’s quite constant, but I can’t move my head too much, or it’ll get much worse fast. Especially looking up/down, is a movement my balance-organ doesn’t like very much.

The suspected migraine aura thing is just around the corner most of the time. It feels like pressure behind my eyes, and the eyes feel very dry and almost as if it has been overexposed to direct sunlight (the words snow blind comes to mind). I have become much more vary of the symptoms now, and make precautions such as turning lights off, resting or taking time-out. The surgery didn’t make it worse in itself, but the dizziness combined with this migraine aura is very tiring and debilitating.

glassy_soundSound in my first CI is different these days. First i thought it was because I had a flu-bug since 3-4 days before surgery, and finally got rid of it on day 6-7 after surgery. But the “glassy” sound is still there, and makes me a little bit annoyed with speech-sounds. I isolate rather quickly these days. (Sorry about that, wife Trist fjes ) While writing this I’m force feeding myself with Pearl Jam, even though sounds make me feel dizzy. I just want to give it massive amounts of sounds in order to get my brain to get over being seasick. It’s really exhausting work, listening to something I really like, while the sound itself makes my head spin Trist fjes Something has changed inside my head again, that’s for sure. I think the pressure from the fluids inside the newly operated ear has an effect on both the vestibular system, as well as my inner ear. I suspect the situation will normalize sooner or later.

Tired, or constantly near-tired, is my mainly prevalent condition these days. I’m somewhat used to it, but after being on my road to (very slow) improvement the last 12 months, I realize that it comes with a rather significant mental price.

grumpyI’m back to being grumpy, quickly irritated. Having said that, these mental symptoms are milder this time, compared to after the first surgery. I think being aware of the above mentioned is half the cure. Also previous experience helps. I know somewhat what is happing, the anxiety isn’t as strong because of that. The rest of the cure comes when my physical condition improves and I’m going back to cognitive therapy in February again. Well timed, and I hope it will not be too many sessions. I hope to be finished with it for good before summer 2012.

Family life

My wife (we got married December 18th 2011 Smilefjes ) is my greatest support. I might have days where I just want to be left alone and not have to relate to anyone, especially in these recovery weeks. Having a family, including a 10 weeks old baby: Joanna, is more a boost than a burden. It reminds me of what I really want in this life, and how it could have become: without CI and the chance to hear again, I would be in a very dark place. Sure, I would have found a way to be happy and function, but it would probably been a much longer and harder road.

Ulf_091010_0204_biggerNow I get to be a father of a wonderful baby girl (not forgetting our two boys eitherSmilefjes), I have a great deal to look forward to, and I have the special one to share it with Smilefjes and her family as a new branch of my social network as well Smilefjes

I feel I have beaten the odds (of my life) in many ways, but half of that victory belongs to my beloved Mette too… Without her never ending patience, her loving care, her endurance, her positiveness, her stubbornness, her dedication and all those other things, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Thank you for your love, love!!! ♥♥♥

Second implant in place

The second implant is now in place, and all went well. Today is 2 days after operation and I’m a little dizzy and not feeling great. Almost like a little hangover. I didn’t sleep much the first night, and avoided sleeping during the first day. I slept through last night, 9 hours.

Priority now is to just take it easy.

Marie_Bunne_278x261This second operation was performed by chief surgeon Dr. Med. Marie Bunne at Rikshospitalet. I was operated on in the “intervention” operating room. In this room they have a sophisticated kind of X-ray equipment which allows the surgeons to view the actual insertion of the electrodes on a live camera X-ray. So the whole idea was to give me special treatment during this surgery, given the fact that I had some bad trauma after the first implant. I struggled with balance for three months, and suffered severe/extreme tinnitus after the first implant.

Dr. Med. Marie Bunne specializes in gentle surgery (article at HLF about Dr. Bunne), and let me tell you: I can feel the difference!

After the first surgery in 2009, I could barely walk, balance was thrown, the muscle that I chew with was sore and aching for weeks. My head felt like a balloon. After THIS surgery, sure I am in pain, but I think I will, on day three, not need more painkillers. I have no notion of swollenness (barely visible below my ear), no sore muscles. All I can say regarding effects from surgery on day three is a slight metallic aftertaste in mouth, and some dizziness, which I suspect is due to pressure from fluids building up in my inner ear. Allthough I’m dizzy, my balance is fine. Slight feeling of vertigo.

They have taken imagery of my first implant in my right ear, which is due for analysis in a few months (tonnes of material, one guy to analyze… budget situation or something Trist fjes) Will be interesting to hear what they find on those images, if the electrodes are badly postioned or what…

The currently used electrodes from Advanced Bionics are slightly thicker than the elctrodes from Med-El or Cochlear. Advanced Bionics are currently woking on getting approval of those new electrodes from US FDA. I found out I did not have the time to wait for those…

I’m now, FINALLY, bilateral. Can’t wait for activation and actually start to use both ears again Smilefjes

New insights, new perspectives.

 

In terms of becoming deaf, I have now been working for some time on becoming a hearing person again. Mostly it has been about taking my life back, but at the same time, my auditory senses are getting better and more used to the new situation. As becoming deaf was a traumatic, frustrating, depressing and exhausting experience, starting to hear again is a different story. Of course, many of the side-effects of becoming deaf are not gone by far, but they become more and more manageable. And that leads to different perspectives and new insights.

Migraine-Aura

I just published the last (previous) post on this blog, adding pictures, links and fixing layout. The link to the Wiki-article about Migraine Aura also contains a list of symptoms, whic I found extremely interesting. In fact, it might yield some clues to my condition that I did not know before.

In an overall sense, it might seem likely that a condtion as migraine might have been mistaken as symptoms of becoming deaf for several years. My mother has migraine, so I am genetically predisposed. But now, with the right ear CI starting to function as a normal ear, it’s perhaps time to investigate further… That process begins here:

Self-diagnosis regarding the Migraine Aura:

This list is taken (copied) from this source, and are the symptoms I experience:
(the other symptoms have been removed)

Visual changes

  • Distortions in the size or shape of objects
  • Vibrating visual field
  • Tunnel vision
  • Kaleidoscope effects on visual field
  • Heightened sensitivity to light

Auditory changes

  • Hearing voices or sounds that do not exist: true auditory hallucinations
  • Modification of voices or sounds in the environment: buzzing, tremolo, amplitude modulation or other modulations
  • Heightened sensitivity to hearing
  • Someone speaking at a level and normal tone sounds like they are shouting loudly

Other sensationsA_Little_Unsteady_-_Rebecca_Latham

  • Heightened sensitivity to smell
  • Feelings of déjà vu or confusion
  • Feeling as if one has to eat or go to the bathroom
  • Feeling as if you are getting warmer or overheating
  • Sudden Perspiration
  • Weakness, unsteadiness
  • Being unable to understand or comprehend spoken words during and after the aura
  • Temporary amnesia, such as forgetting how to do tasks you have been doing for years

This list/text is from a Wiki article about Migraine:

Prodrome

Prodromal symptoms occur in 40–60% of those with migraines. This phase may consist of altered mood, irritability, depression or euphoria, fatigue, yawning, excessive sleepiness, craving for certain food (e.g. chocolate), stiff muscles (especially in the neck), dizziness, hot ears, constipation or diarrhea, increased or decreased urination, and other visceral symptoms.[15] These symptoms usually precede the headache phase of the migraine attack by several hours or days, and experience teaches the patient or observant family how to detect a migraine attack is near.

Aura

For the 20–30%[16][17] of migraine sufferers who experience migraine with aura, this aura comprises focal neurological phenomena that precede or accompany the attack. They appear gradually over five to 20 minutes and generally last fewer than 60 minutes. The headache phase of the migraine attack usually begins within 60 minutes of the end of the aura phase, but it is sometimes delayed up to several hours, and it can be missing entirely (see silent migraine). The pain may also begin before the aura has completely subsided. Symptoms of migraine aura can be sensory or motor in nature.[18]

This is quite accurate image of my aura-phenomenon at nightVisual aura is the most common of the neurological events, and can occur without any headache. There is a disturbance of vision consisting often of unformed flashes of white and/or black or rarely of multicolored lights (photopsia) or formations of dazzling zigzag lines (scintillating scotoma, often arranged like the battlements of a castle, hence the alternative terms "fortification spectra" or "teichopsia"[19]). Some patients complain of blurred or shimmering or cloudy vision, as though they were looking at an area above a heated surface, looking through thick or smoked glass, or, in some cases, tunnel vision and hemianopsia.

The somatosensory aura of migraine may consist of digitolingual or cheiro-oral paresthesias, a feeling of pins-and-needles experienced in the hand and arm, as well as in the nose-mouth area on the same side. The paresthesia may migrate up the arm and then extend to involve the face, lips and tongue.

Other symptoms of the aura phase can include auditory, gustatory or olfactory hallucinations, temporary dysphasia, vertigo, tingling or numbness of the face and extremities, and hypersensitivity to touch.

The really intereseting part, for me, is the one pertaining Auditory changes. This enters the territory of tinnitus, and working my way through this list, I start to look forward to seeing an expert neurologist. I already have been to an eye expert, which in turn forwarded me to Rikshospitalet and an expert in neurology for further examination. Receival of transfer has been confirmed, now I just wait for a proper appointment. Who knows when that will be. I’m not holding my breath, and besides, I have other things on my schedule right now Smile

 

Becoming bilateral!

transorbital_bilateralCIOn january 18th I will receive my second implant, and it will be interesting to see if that procedure will have any impact on any of the conditons I have written about today.

I expect the sound to be easier to work with, of course. Getting stereo again will be sweet Smile 
Maybe (hopefully) the effect of tinnitus will lessen, since my implanted right ear was the worst one, also in terms of tinnitus, before the first surgery, and the left ear has been resting for 2 years now. The left ear might very well become my best CI-ear.

I still hear thumps, firecrackers, airbombs (new years eve fresh in mind Winking smile) jetplanes, bass from loud music and trucks on my left ear, so the auditory nerve is very much intact.

Will be a whole new process, of course, with the benfit of the right ear having paved the way for the altered sound signatures of all sounds around me in everyday life. Also the stereo will add the benefit of my brains capability to calculate the location and distance of any given sound or voice, in all kinds of sound environments…

Really looking forward to that process, and most of all, getting to a point where I can actually rest comfortabley on my auditory sense instead of working hard on it and / or compensate with lip-reading, mind-reading, guessing etc.

Going from a fight of survival to a process of healing

Is this the transition from fighting for my life, my sanity, health and hearing, to actually start to heal? It might very well be the case. It feels like the previous oncoming deafness, the struggle to get proper help and the road back finally is starting to pay off. This of course, gives me a tremendous boost in morale, and will affect not only myself, but my whole family and everyone else I love and care for.

cocktail-partyI have thought about the day I can work on honing my social skills, and to be with people without having to resort to coping mechanisms like withdrawal from pleasant/interesting company (self-isolating), turning off sound, “tuning out” (looking the other way, seemingly uninterested) etc. It will maybe have to be a conscious effort on my part, to change my (socially negative, but (previously) personally essential) coping habits in order to adapt to the new reality of having two working ears again.

The human body, including the human psyche, is a tremendously complex biological machine, and I am certain that there is a lot more improvement in store for me in my life and in my health, as I now await the final phase of my return to the hearing world (100%).

I can’t wait Smile

A new chapter, at last…

Been a very long pause in my blogging. Has been a very eventful year (actually it’s more like 6 months Smile) since my last blog-entry was posted. I write this on my mobile phone, hence the shortness of text and expressions.

Here are the highlights:

  • Unilateral hearing is pretty good.1280px-Migraine_aura
  • Downside is tinnitus and problem with speech in noise + very tired.
  • I might have some kind of migraine, could be related to my struggle with getting sound «good». This winter has been bad. It is being pursued and investigated. Migraine aura, something like the picture shows.
  • Got engaged with my girlfriend.
  • Became a father to beautiful Joanna.
  • Got married 🙂

joanna

I focused on taking my life back in terms of living it and creating a family together with my wife.

This period has led to this moment, where I’m happy to announce that I will finally become bilateral on the 18th of January 2012!

I look forward to it, and expect life to become little easier, in terms of using energy on understanding speech. How long time it will take, no one knows. What level of sound comfort and skill I will reach, remains to be seen.

I am anxious to find out if it will improve my general health to the extent that I will be able to partake in work-life again. As of now, I’m on the limit with family life including two boys, an infant and wife.

Further reports will follow, documenting this final ascent into bilateral CI heaven 🙂

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