C.I.B.O.R.G. D.A.Y.

27 02 2010

It’s my big day. Bye bye crappy hearing aid. Hello bionic ear. I’m calm. Still asking myself, Am I REALLY deaf enough for a cochlear implant?


I got to the hospital and sat in reception, listening to my iPod with my last few minutes of bilateral hearing, until they called me upstairs to the B ward at the Royal National Throat Nose Ear hospital in London. I went through all the prep with 2 nurses – a form detailing any medical problems, and they took MRSI swabs, my blood pressure, and temperature. I met with the surgeon who marked my neck on the left side, he said the surgery should take about 2 hours. The anaesthetist also came to talk to me, then my friend Karen arrived. I chatted with her for the rest of the morning as my surgery was scheduled for 1pm.

I was totally calm and remained so for the whole CI experience – I think this was because I had done so much research and watched a video of CI surgery, and I had the courage of my convictions, I knew I was doing the right thing. This morning, on my way in, I tried listening to my iPod with just my left ear, and I couldn’t even follow the melody of my favourite U2 songs, whereas I was easily able to do this with my right ear. Rock on!

I was given a hospital gown, stockings to stop blood clots, and plastic knickers(!). Wow, this was a whole new fashion thing going! I eyed them nervously until the last minute, the nurse had to almost force me to get all that gear on. The stockings made me laugh as they have holes in the bottom of them … to tickle my feet when I wake up maybe?


I walked upstairs to the operating theatre’s recovery room with a nurse and hopped onto a bed. I was to get a general anaesthetic. The nurse covered me with blankets and hooked me up to monitors, with monitor pads stuck to my chest. The anaesthetist had a huge syringe which looked like it was full of milk. He gave me the anaesthetic and looked at me …. I looked at him … he looked at me .. I started laughing and said “It’s not gonna work is it?!” then the next thing I remember is waking up, I was wide awake very quickly and they took me back to the ward with a big grin on my face. It was the best sleep ever and I wanted to do it again! My surgery had taken 4 1/2 hours.


I felt very happy and wide awake. David had arrived and he and Karen had been waiting for 4 1/2 hours, they were worried as they had been told surgery would be about 2 hours. I had no pain at all apart from over the ear where the bandage was too tight – it felt as if my ear had been bent over before being bandaged up. I asked the nurse to loosen it for me and that helped a little.

The surgeon came to see me, Prof Saeed from Manchester, who has 15 years experience of CI surgeries, and I am his 294th CI patient – so that’s a very experienced CI surgeon! He said all 16 electrodes are working and the operation was perfect, he was totally thrilled. He asked me to close my eyes and smile, to check that my face is working ok. I then had dinner, I was starving by then, and I discovered that I can still taste food – I had been told I might lose my sense of taste after surgery. I showed the internal part of the cochlear implant to Karen – I had a dummy one with me – and my nurse was absolutely fascinated by it. From the moment Karen and David arrived, I didn’t stop talking, and I was chatting to Amanda and a few other friends via my Blackberry, so I feel as if my hospital stay has been a very enjoyable social event with a good sleep thrown in!


I tried to settle down for the night but there were too many pillows, the ward was too warm, my stockings were tight, the bandage was hurting, the tinnitus was roaring like a freight train in my new CI ear. A nurse spoke to me about my pillows but it was dark on the ward and she is dark skinned ….. I gave up at that point! Too tired to explain good communication tactics! I eventually got to sleep after 2AM.


A nurse poked me awake – grrr – to take my blood pressure and temperature. Another nurse came to take the bandage off and she pointed out a big swollen bruise on my chest which I hadn’t noticed. Must have got that when the surgeon had to put his foot on me to keep me down …

I had breakfast of cornflakes, tea and toast. I went back to sleep and woke to see Karen there. The nurse removed the tubes and needles from my hand and we headed off to the xray department, where they xrayed my head. The xray is to check the CI has been put in the right place. I collected my discharge note, sick certificate, and confirmed my checkup date. I got dressed and had a quick lunch, then we left for home.

FRIDAY 1PM : Home 🙂

I was able to walk and my balance was good, but I felt quite unreal and had to walk slowly. I wore a pashmina to cover up the crazy hair, I’m not allowed to wash it for a week. The pashmina worked well as it was light and comfortable. The scar looks good, it’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and my hair will cover it anyway. I think it looks like a very professional job.

There isn’t any pain in the ear itself. The ear is numb and it’s sore going down the neck, and I have a sore throat/jaw/shoulders/head, bruises on the back of head and chest, it hurts to turn over or to get up, I feel like I’ve done 500 situps, but overall, the operation is a breeze really, and I wouldn’t have any qualms in going through it again for a 2nd CI if I go for that. I’d get to have another go at the drugs and pants thing. I think the worse thing was the tinnitus yesterday, I didn’t expect it to get worse, and to the level that it did, of a freight train, so that was a shocker.

What I found difficult during my hospital stay was communication with the nurses and surgeon – they were foreign and I couldn’t lipread them. Luckily, David can sign so he translated for me. It’s a shame the nurses and doctors don’t get deaf awareness training. It really is so important, so that the patient has a better hospital experience – it’s not just about the medical support, it’s about the holistic support. The psychological aspect is important as well. It’s like yin and yang. I had to constantly ask nurses to repeat, to look at me when speaking, to write it down. It was so frustrating and tiring.


I woke up to an amazing thing …. silence. No tinnitus! It has been coming and going today but it’s quieter than yesterday. At this moment, as I am writing this, there is silence. It is bliss. I have had constant tinnitus all of my life and it really sucks, but you can’t do anything about it except learn to live with it. I managed to get 7 hours sleep and I feel much more clear headed today. Physically I am really aching and don’t feel up to doing anything. The numbness on the left side of my tongue has gone away and my lips are becoming less numb. I’m amazed at how much better I feel.

I’m really happy because it was a good surgery and the surgeon was thrilled, and by having the CI on the worse ear, I had nothing to lose and so much to gain. It really helped to have such great support throughout from my friends that have CIs, they have been through it themselves and are great at offering reassurance and advice. My hearing dog Smudge was totally spoiled when I was in hospital, he really enjoyed all the fuss, new toys and treats, and is probably wondering when I’m going away again!

I’m so unbelievably TIRED, but I am a very happy bunny! For now, it’s back to the sofa for tea and chocolate biscuits…



30 responses

27 02 2010
Jeremy Freeman

Well done Tina, thanks for sharing your experiences, amazing that the tinnitus has gone. When is switch on?

27 02 2010

@Jeremy – no date is set yet. I go back to the hospital next week for a check up and will ask then. It’ll probably be on 1st April LOL

27 02 2010

Great to read about the process. I have not been in hospital since I was a teen. Too long ago to recall.

I think the tinnitus is generally due to any trauma. In the past when I have had an electric shock that caused it to flare up, same thing happened when I had a hangover, so that was a lesson learnt. Too much caffeine of course is a sure bet to agrivate the problem so it is not surprising if an operating in hat area will provoke it and when the disturbance wears off it will fade away – atl east in my experience.

When will you be back at work then?

27 02 2010
laura j

i know what you mean about deaf awareness on hospital wards. i have been through it myself several times! one time a nurse put my implant on when i was sedated so my parents could talk to me. my parents left leaving the ci on, the nurses changed then my ci was forgotten about! it fell off my ear and in the sheets and ended up in the washing chute! we got it back though thank god!

gosh ci ops are quick these days arent they! when i had mine it was a week then 3 days!

Glad it went well!

27 02 2010
Stephen 'gargly'

Many congratulations with your ‘assimilation’..like your coverage of the event.
Hope you recover quickly as possible and good luck for the big switch on..could coincide with the easter lights switch on too..

Gargly 😉

27 02 2010

Great post and pictures. I’m glad your surgery went well and I look forward to your post about your hook-up.

27 02 2010

I too felt like my ear doubled over after the surgery. Your experience was just like mine, I also did my worst ear. Good luck recuperating. Activation just a short time away.

27 02 2010
cathy o

Congratulations from Bosley ‘n me! Keep us informed.

27 02 2010

Glad you have recovered well, you’re doing great compared to me! I woke up feeling like I was drunk, and was off balance for a couple of weeks (nothing serious though) and I threw up when I was served my dinner, the poor nurse had my vomit all over her arms! I also threw up during the xray to check all was in place OK…. my experience would be enough to put anyone off lol! Just remember after the switch to take one day at a time, and try to enjoy learning how to hear all over again, only way to get through it! Set a date in your diary for 6-8months time to listen to your Beatles song and see if you can follow the melody better.. 🙂 xx

4 03 2010

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me ?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

🙂 🙂

28 02 2010
Kate Richardson

Way to go, Tina! It was so interesting to read about your whole experience. Why, may I ask, are nurses on a ward dealing with CI implants not given deaf awareness training??????? (grrrrrr!!) Can’t imagine what the freight train in your ears must have been like – wow, don’t think I could have handled that! Doesn’t silence sound great sometimes! Enjoy the rest and the chocky bickies, you’ve certainly earned it. Take care, and I look forward to hearing how you’re getting on. Love Kate xx

28 02 2010

Tina, well done. Nice to read your detailed account and so pleased to note the deafening of the tinnitus roars. I had exactly the same during both my CI surgeries. However, with the left ear the tinnitus disappeared while with the recent right ear the tinnitus goes on and off. I am waiting for a good magnet to hold my head piece properly. Words and phrases can be heard and at times really good. The real difference is when I wear both CI processors – an overwhelmingly better perception of speech from every direction!

28 02 2010
Speak Up Librarian

So glad to hear your surgery went well! It must have been very reassuring to have such an experienced surgeon. You got home from the hospital quickly. Now take good care of yourself!!!
Hugs, from Sarah and tail wags to Smudge from Rusty

P.S. I agree with Ian’s comment about the tinnitus.

28 02 2010
Howard Samuels

Great job, Tina! I’m impressed that you have your act together enough to update the blog!

The tinnitus may be all over the map for a while. Hopefully you will join the lucky crowd whose tinnitus disappears when the processor is on.

4 03 2010

I am wondering if the chocky bickies are making the tinnitus worse? :-/

28 02 2010

Wow,..it seems the whole world is now being taken over by cyborgs. LOL

Reminds me of Red Dwarf, surreal but only it ain’t fiction but in real time.

Being the old cynic I am, Im surprised people are not bothered about turning metal head.

Looks like you will be singing that song by Gary Glitter ‘Wanna be in my gang, my gang my gang.’

‘Im the leader…..

1 03 2010

Sending best wishes to you. All the best. 🙂

1 03 2010

Excellent Blog Tina, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I look forward to the update. Warmest wishes Px

2 03 2010

This is wonderful news! So glad everything went well. 🙂

2 03 2010
Ruth Campbell

Thanks for sharing this Tina – and good luck with the hook-up. All the best, Ruth

4 03 2010

I write you form Monterrey, Mexico. I am 45 year old.
I am CI with Advanced Bionic , be sure that CI is the best option.
The AB Customer Services is excellent !!!
Now, I have the HiRes-P with Fidelity 120 and until now I can talk by phone and hear most of the natural sound.
I recommend to you to be patient in learning to listen with Implante.
Congratulations and welcome

4 03 2010

Hola Pedro, gracias por su mensaje!

Very glad to hear you like AB. I will try my best to be patient with learning to hear again. Have you joined us on Hearing Journey?

4 03 2010

I read all days Hearing Journey but not participate with comments. English is my second lenguage and I can understand very well but not writen fluently.
I have one year with my implant and has been step by step.
It is a miracle but step by step
Patience, practices and work is the key


23 03 2010

HI Tina, wow, your blogs fab. I was directed to you through a dude in the hearing journey. I am waiting for my assessment down at crosshouse hospital in scotland. Thanks for all your research, its great. You have eased my worry.

Good luck for your switch on im sure its going to be mental.

25 06 2011

Having read through your blog, I can only say thank you for sharing your experience. I too am going for a similar procedure, and didn’t know much about it apart from the actual procedure. It’s good to know about the recovery.

11 07 2011

It is a very worrying time, and also apprehensive time. I am so glad you have shared this experience. It will give other individuals, who are going through a similar experience both confidence and strength during the post operative weeks.

25 07 2011
Berlin Hospitals

Your blog is truly inspirational, it not only sheds light on the real operation, but also offers advise along the way. Thank you so much for your post. I was just wondering how you were feeling now, over 17 months on?

25 07 2011

Hi – I’m feeling very positive about the whole decision to go with the cochlear implant. My hearing is improving rather than getting worse, and my confidence and communication skills are improving too. I still have a way to go, but what I have now is a world away from the hearing I had with hearing aids, it’s so much clearer, nothing is too loud whereas with the hearing aids I was constantly switching them off, and I am hearing sounds that I never dreamed existed. I think the cochlear implant is like a sprinkling of magic dust on the ears 🙂

5 08 2011

I too am a couple of years down the line from having my cochlear implant, and am coping well. I was however a little shocked to find that I was not able to go through the MRI scanner with it in recently. So the bad back problem has not yet been solved. Something to do with the fact that the scanner is a huge magnet. Any how, the doctor is sending me for a CT scan instead or something of that nature, as this will not have any effect on my implant. Glad to hear that you too are coming out the other side after the operation.

8 08 2011

Great blog, I have not had a cochlea implant but have to say that I have worked in the medical profession for a number of years, and am surprised that no body advised Oliver above of the fact that he would not be allowed in the MRI scanner, it is on a list of questions which is asked prior to going in the scanner any one with any metal in them will not be allowed in, this includes shrapnel wounds from a war wound or if you have worked with metal filings and one is still present in your eye, then you would also not be allowed into the scanner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: