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!!! ♥♥♥

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Status update IV – early autumn 2008 – part 3 of 5

Physical health

Up to a few weeks ago my whole body felt good and I was without any chronic pains for the first time I can remember in my adult life. Back pains are gone, and the last remaining symptoms with muscle pains in my thighs has disappeared.
Headaches, the severe light sensitivity (photophobia) and some other smaller symptoms related to vestibular disturbances also diminished this last year. Even my worn knees are improving painwise, ie. they don’t pain me as much as they used to. I can almost run and almost walk the stairs without pain. All in all, this summer was a great physical experience. This last year I have taking a break from any physical training, because my body told me in the fall of 2007 that it couldn’t take anymore. Even swimming gave me muscle and skeleton pains. Clear signals that I could not ignore.

This summer, part of my vacation was in Poland with good friends and together with my son. We went on a one week trip to an area with great biking trails. And we went on long bike trips every day. This time my body responded well, and I have now started training again. Swimming 1-2 times a week, and some bike trips in between. I look forward to loose a few kilos this winter, instead of gaining them. My knees, who are still protesting in stairs, will thank me for that.

I stated earlier here that I have regressed a little, and this reflects and manifests itself in my body physically. My neck has become stiff again, and my shoulders are constantly aching and uncomfortable.

I keep waving my arms and tilting my head in all directions in order to keep it “loose”. I suspect that these symptoms come from stress are related to the breakup with my girlfriend. She means a lot to me, but the long distance relationship we’ve had since the beginning took it’s toll on our love. She couldn’t bear it anymore. I don’t blame her and I’m not bitter. She made me feel much better a whole year in this very tough part of my life. I hope I made her life better too. I think so. Even though her breaking up with me is still a little mysterious to me. I wonder what would have happened if I had gotten that CI long ago??? Would I have become happier and have more humor and strength? The future will tell what happens to me after the CI-operation.

Parenting, oncoming deafness and it’s effect

I am a single parent. I just had my son over for an extended weekend before he takes a long summer vacation with his mother.

My son hasn’t reached puberty yet, and hence has a boyish thin voice… Unfortunately this is the kind of voice that strikes me the worst, since it is in the frequency-neighborhood where I’m loosing hair-cells in the cochlea nowadays. It is the frequency of my tinnitus and it’s where my hyperacusia hits me the worst…

He is a joyful kid with a lot of energy. He has tried my hearing aids, and understand that it hurt my ears that he shouts, but as most kids, he can’t remember everything at once.

I have to hush him when he forgets. Which he follows most of the time (unless he is upset with me).

What troubles me in this, is my own condition. As a result of having my son around, I quickly become exhausted, because as most kids he likes to communicate, and we talk… He is signing some, but it takes effort to learn the signing properly, so it ends up with help-signs only. I don’t I have the energy for learning it… It’s a paradox… I need to learn it, but I’m to exhausted to even go to school once a week (I tried!). The only thing that could help me is the operation, and for that I have to wait…  It’s so wasted to wait!!!!  Aaaarggghhh!

Anyway, the hyperacusia and the recruitment and the following fatigue affects me mentally, and sometimes I can loose my self-control a little, ending in me being too harsh or too abrupt in my reactions. So I find myself using more energy trying to stay in control, rather than raising my son and using my energy positively. I don’t feel like I have a choice…

I have to use the first hours of my days do get things done, because by noon I’m exhausted and

run on will-power and love… At his bedtime I feel like I have the mental capacity as a drunk… Reading-time I have to do without any sound… Just listening to my own voice hurts…

This is not a “normal” life… I need that operation now!

Status update III – part 2 of 3 – Challenges of tinnitus

tinnitus2 The tinnitus is a relentless as ever. Recently I discovered a way to explain how it sounds. I came to think of the TV test signals with the one-frequency audio sound. That is on about 1000 Hz and is almost the same frequency as my tinnitus. In other words; I have a constant TV-test audio signal blaring in my ears. I have a suspicion that the tinnitus has changed a little in the frequency the last months. The sound is a little higher up on the frequency-scale than I imagine it was 1 year ago… Tinnitus is the sound of my hair cells screaming goodbye forever. May they be revived upon the insertion of the CI-electrode arrays…

Distractions necessary

In order to distract myself from the tinnitus I either has to turn my hearing aids on and endure the “recruitment” and hyperacusia and wear myself out quickly, or engage my brain with tasks like reading, sudoku, various forms of art (I like wood carving, metal work, drawing, writing, photography and the processing of photographs in Adobe Photoshop and alike. Furthermore I like to get my hands dirty working on

alpine and rock plants on my balcony, plants in my living room, various tasks on our small farm in Sweden. Also I enjoy the diversities of the computer world wether it’s playing a strategy game like Command and Conquer, driving rally cars in Colin McRae Dirt, being a hyper modern deadly soldier in Crysis, or simply surfing the Internet, staying in touch with friends and family via email and IM. The computer is a big part of my life, especially since it was and will be part of my professional life and career. Oh, and “house chores” are also a nice distraction from tinnitus 🙂

OK, got a little sidetracked, but what I meant to say is this: I have to constantly distract myself with mental activity in order to keep the tinnitus away from the “alert”-consciousness. That in itself is depraving me of the opportunity to really relax and to build up some sort of surplus of mental strength. The results of this never ending battle with “recruitment”, hyperacusia and tinnitus is first of all extreme mental fatigue. It doesn’t take much to wear me down these days.

Consequences of this condition is that it takes more effort to concentrate. The endurance of concentration is shortcoming. Even concentrating on a dialogue is a challenge. To keep my own thoughts in order at the same time I have to concentrate on comprehending the things being said to me is a challenge. At the same time, my short term memory is failing me, probably from the exhaustion of all the other tasks that my brain is occupied with, thus giving me another task I need to concentrate harder on.

Fatigue and effect on body

The extreme fatigue I often experience puts limits to the extent of how much I can pursue my interests. It feels very limiting and prison-like. But I focus on the positive and whatever gives me joy. Having said that, I know that pondering a lot about the condition I am in isn’t necessarily a good thing. However I am such a person that almost never take the easiest way. I tend to analyze and scrutinize the hell out of anything, and then meet it with countermeasures that are carefully considered and self debated. It is a way of dealing with things that goes well for me…

The physical condition is linked to my psychological condition. The stress fatigue is sometimes limiting my capability of getting myself into physical action. At the same time, I have experienced that last year most of my muscle and skeleton-related symptoms (mostly pains and discomfort) has subsided. I have a theory that my body was in a state of stress just as my mentality was (still is) in a state of stress. My body just didn’t respond well to physical exercises. So last winters absence of extreme training has done me well in terms of reducing pains and discomfort in my back and neck especially, and subsequentially in my legs and shoulders (which was the reason I had to stop swimming regularly, last fall). My focus now goes to light physical activity and just having fun while doing it. Pleasure-driven and not self-forcing hard exercise seem to do the trick for me now. I focus a little more on my diet since I no longer burn so many calories.

My un-sound condition – pre CI era

I want to make this list in order to remind myself what it was like before I got the CI (2007/2008). Maybe I run into problems post-surgery post-sound activation and need a reminder of how I reacted to sounds before the operation(s). It’s a time capsule to myself…

Here’s a similar post I wrote January this year…

These are the sounds that causes great stress, fatigue, even pain and vertigo in me these days… 
  • All things mechanical like car engines, especially bigger engines like on buses and trucks.
  • to many voices at the same time, especially if a little loud
  • the clanking sound of ceramics against ceramics (dinner plates)
  • my son at the top of his voice (vertigo)
  • my mothers voice when louder
  • children voices
  • the vibration sounds from my computer, or maybe it’s one of the fans
  • inside my car
  • elevator music and “muzak” (because it’s too faint for me to grasp, or too noisy otherwise, my brain tries too hard)
  • the hiss from the steamer on a cappuccino-machine
  • if everything else is quiet, the refrigerator noise is picked up by my HA and that sound wears me down
  • the air-condition in office buildings and alike
  • stiletto-heels and other hard shoe soles on hard surfaces
  • vacuum-cleaner and other domestic appliances
  • music     😦
  • any sounds in a room with bad acoustics (naked floors, walls and ceiling echoing sounds)
  • any background sound when I’m having a conversation
These are the sounds I can’t hear at all anymore even with hearing aids on
  • Birds singing (could hear them faintly as a kid)
  • My cat meowing
  • My bedside alarm clock
  • the fire alarm
  • the doorbell
  • running water
  • rain falling on rooftop
  • someone yelling my name from a distance or another room

Unconditional condition

I just sat very comfortably in my favorite chair in front of my computer for two hours, doing some work that requires concentration. I had no sounds to distract me, since I turned my hearing aids off for the work-session.
I can’t stand the sound of the fans, even though I have water-cooled most of my rig, the hard-drives give off too much heat for the whole thing to be able to run without fans… I think the sound can’t be much more than 17 – 20 dB (according to fan specifications), and that’s a faint sound, really. But my hearing aids are the most powerful there is (to my knowledge) and they’re cranked to the max. (Widex Senso Diva). So I turn them off more and more these days…

The recruitment is killing me if I don’t turn them off.

The tinnitus is there as always, but not really bothering me concentration-vise. It’s sort of comforting, since the sound now has a rather steady tone. (before it was a chaos of frequencies and variations in strength/volume)
Anyway, I sit, my head is not moving, my eyes are only fixated on the screen, and my concentration goes to the task at hand. The first hour goes fine, no problems.
The second hour I start to get physical sensations in my head. It is like pressure building slowly up.
I had a good night and I’m not tired. I have no stress to complete the work I do, and have no deadlines for anything. It’s Sunday 🙂

radThen suddenly I get these auditory sensations, it’s like a silent storm. I can feel it somehow. Not like pain, it is not unpleasant, it’s just a sensation of very weak electric current in my brain. Like a blanket of electricity sliding back and forth like the radar screen image.  It’s like a soft “wooosh” inside my brain…
The sensation that I have are connected to my ears, and at the same time they affect all of my brain (at least it feels like it does). I have no control of this sensation.

I wrote about this sensation before, connected to a pre-sleep phenomenon. This is very much the same, only now I get it during daytime too…

Seconds after this “wooosh”-sensation I feel dizzy (I guess there’s some kind of activity affecting my Vestibule where the balance-nerves are situated). It’s a weak vertigo, even though I sit still, are at peace with no stress. And I know I don’t have Meniére, thank goodness…

After this my ability to concentrate is worse. It’s difficult to keep a thought for as long as I like. My mind has always been a multitasking one; while doing one thing, my mind has been working out what the next thing I should/want to do… This is impossible in the state I’m in after only two hours of working effortlessly… It’s frustrating for me, because if I’m doing something that gives me a thought that I want to pursue, the short-term memory isn’t working as I’m used to. So when I complete the task I worked on, I KNOW that there was something I thought of doing, like searching for a special kind of information, or look up a certain fact etc. etc. But it’s gone… Sometimes I sit for 10 minutes of more, pondering what it was that ignited that thought, trying to reconstruct the idea for myself… Sometimes I get it, most often I just move on… I can’t let it get to me.

In short it makes me feel like I’m cognitively amputated… The SUDOKU-thing helped me understand this better…

And by writing this now, and concentrating on the subject and all the aspects of writing, I feel I’m pushing myself… I’m starting to get a headache now… This is the part I do not understand at all…

I haven’t heard a sound all morning (it’s now 12.30, I started working at 9.30). I know my hearing is disappearing, and the tinnitus is singing it’s tune. But why is it a strain for me to do something that doesn’t affect my hearing? Why do I get this dizzy feel, why the headache, why the memory-problems, why the multitasking problem, why the feeling of fatigue? Can it be that the optical-nerve also lies close the the nerves of the auditory nerve and the balance-nerve? It is all connected somehow…

My jaws feel like they had a punch (they’re sore, like I chewed gum for a few hours). My temples hurt a little bit. The dizzy feeling is there (but I’m not having trouble with the balance, though).

This state/condition will last all day, until late at night, then I feel better again, but the paradox then is that I need to sleep. I might me tired, but want to stay up because the world feel somewhat more vivid to me. Is it connected to me originally being a B-person? I’m not extreme, have no troubles getting up in the morning whenever… (but used to)

Vestibular disorder symptoms I have experienced

I came across an interesting website for an organization called VEDA (VEstibular Disorder Association).  I found this list of possible symptoms that is very interesting.

Image copied from “vestibular system.” Online Art. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Jan. 2008
Here is an explanation of the Vestibular system.

I did not initially place all these symptoms into the same category (i.e. having to do with my hearing), but maybe I should have??? I exctracted the whole list and will excempt (a strikethrough line) those not experienced by me. If commented, the comment has been marked like this.

This list was a revelation to me… It all fits, kind of… Seems it connects to the wiring of the vestibulo-cochlear nerve: the nerve that carries information from the inner ear to the brain. Also called the eighth cranial nerve, auditory nerve, or acoustic nerve. If the “recruitment”-theory in my previous article holds water, the information about these symptoms could also have some bearing on the subject of my condition.

Vision

  • Trouble focusing or tracking objects with the eyes; objects or words on a page seem to jump, bounce, float, or blur or may appear doubled
  • Discomfort from busy visual environments such as traffic, crowds, stores, and patterns.
  • Sensitivity to light, glare, and moving or flickering lights; fluorescent lights may be especially troublesome Very much so!
  • Tendency to focus on nearby objects; increased discomfort when focusing at a distance
  • Increased night blindness; difficulty walking in the dark Yes, have to find walls or points of support in order to be able to move, get a complete feeling of immediate disorientation
  • Poor depth perception

Hearing

  • Hearing loss; distorted or fluctuating hearing Well, that’s not exactly news…
  • Tinnitus (ringing, roaring, buzzing, whooshing, or other noises in the ear) Very much so!
  • Sensitivity to loud noises or environments Especially high pitch like childrens voices
  • Sudden loud sounds may increase symptoms of vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance Yes!

 

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