People recover differently from cochlear implant surgery. It is wise to be as informed and well-prepared as you can, so you recover more quickly.
The side effects a patient can expect after CI surgery include;
* pressure or discomfort over the implanted ear from the bandage
* feeling sick to the stomach (nausea)
* disorientation or confusion for a while
* a sore throat for a while from the breathing tube used during general anesthesia
Then, a patient can expect to:
* keep the bandages on for a while
* have the bandages be stained with some blood or fluid
* go home in about a day after surgery
* have stitches for a while
* get instructions about caring for the stitches, washing the head, showering, and general care and diet
* have an appointment in about a week to the stitches removed and have the implant site examined
* have the implant “turned on” (activated) about 3-6 weeks later
- Bring a hat, scarf or pashmina to wear home. My numb ear felt the cold very easily.
- Bring a very soft pillow to sleep on. The hospital pillows are quite big and hard. They are great for sitting back on but I couldn’t sleep on them nor on the flat mattress.
- When the nurse gives you tablets, find out what they are. I assumed I was being given painkillers when in fact they were just antibiotics, and I spent the night in pain – needlessly!
- Bring a pad and pencil – I can almost guarantee you won’t be able to lipread the nurses and surgeon.
- Take the arm off your glasses as your ear will be too sore. I forgot and did this AFTER my operation … and almost lost the will to live.
- Stock up on soups as it may hurt to eat afterwards
- Give the anaesthetist your biggest smile (I think this helps)
For the last week, I have felt dizzy, with a sore jaw, neck and throat, and was extremely tired. I could barely get out of bed. My tinnitus was like the roar of a freight train for a day after surgery, then two days later I awoke to silence. Oh …. bliss. I continued to wake up to silence for the next few days.
I went to have my stitches taken out. I saw they had a project in the waiting room, pagers available for deaf patients. I was handed a pager with instructions on a large key fob attached, saying that it would ring and vibrate to alert me. A friend happened to pass by and waited with me. A nurse came out and happened to stand right next to me, and called out my name. The pager didn’t vibrate and I was lucky to have been able to lipread her. Not impressed!!
My surgeon is very pleased with my progress and says the ear is healing very nicely. I hadn’t washed my hair for a week, it was really icky, but I was so unwell that I just didn’t care. I had the surgical tape and eight stitches removed by a fabulous nurse – I couldn’t understand a word she said, but she was very gentle and did a super job. It didn’t hurt much at all. It looks great, doesn’t it?
On my way home, the tinnitus hit me like a ton of bricks as I was waiting to pay in a supermarket – I guess I’d had too much time to stand and stare, and Mr Tinnitus saw its opportunity to hit the bull’s eye. Otherwise, my recovery has been good.
It has helped to have lots of good wishes, comforting things and a bunch of great people around me. It’s funny to think that a week ago, I thought I could wake up and jump out of bed, and get straight back to normal. Nooooo! I’ve had major surgery! I’ve had a hole drilled into my head! It’s gotta hurt somewhere!
I am unable to hear now from my left (implanted) ear. I don’t mind as this has always been my worse ear, and nothing made sense when listening only from that ear. I am told there is not much difference between my two ears, so hopefully I will have a good trip from activation (switch-on) day onwards. No activation date has been set yet although this is normally 3-6 weeks after the operation, to allow the area to heal. On activation day, I will be given the external transmitter part of the implant and will have my first programming session.
Knowing my luck, my activation date will be set for April 1st …. lol