Thursday, September 28, 2006

Today was a good one :)

*snip*
Today was my checkup with Dr. Haynes. My mother-in-law picked up the kids from school and took them home with her and Dicky drove me to Nashville. We had a great checkup...Dr. Haynes said everything looked good. I 'fessed up to picking the stitches but he was nice enough to not fuss (he's just a really nice guy in general :) ). I told him that I am still dizzy, and he said that some people just had to deal with it a little longer, but that he really thought it would go away in time. I knew going into this that dizziness was one of the side effects and that it was possible that it could last for a while. I still wanted it, and I still want it now, and this is just part of it. All of the other side effects are nearly gone...the numbness in my ear is barely noticeable anymore, and the numbness and salty taste in my mouth are almost completely gone. Having gotten a clean bill of health...it's onward to activation on October 10th! I can't wait!

Good news:

from MedGadget.com :

September 27, 2006


Harmony™ HiResolution® Bionic Ear System

Filed under: ENT

Boston Scientific has announced today's FDA approval of its cochlear implant Harmony™ HiResolution® Bionic Ear System, a device designed for severely deaf patients.

Developed by the Company's Neuromodulation Group, the Harmony System delivers 120 spectral bands, 5 - 10 times more than competing systems, helping to significantly increase hearing potential and quality of life for the severe-to-profoundly deaf.

"The Harmony System represents the next generation of cochlear implant technology," said Jeff Greiner, President of Boston Scientific's Neuromodulation Group. "We have brought together unprecedented advancements in science, design and functionality for the user -- furthering our commitment to restoring hearing and improving quality of life for those living with hearing loss due to permanent inner ear or auditory nerve damage."

Designed to enhance music appreciation and improve hearing in a variety of difficult listening environments, the Harmony System couples revolutionary internal sound processing (with the optional HiRes Fidelity™ 120) with the new Harmony behind-the-ear (BTE) external sound processor. Together, the two key components of the Harmony System are designed to provide significantly enhanced spectral resolution compared to conventional systems for a more natural representation of sound to help improve patient performance...

Cochlear implant users can access soft whispers and loud sounds without adjusting dials or controls with Harmony's CD-quality processing and sophisticated dual-loop automatic gain control, helping users better appreciate music, hear in noisy environments, use the telephone, and hear sounds that are loud and soft.

In addition to the FDA approval, the Harmony HiResolution Bionic Ear System recently received approval from Health Canada and the CE mark in Europe.

According to clinical evaluation results, approximately 80 percent of the subjects reported a strong preference for the Harmony sound processor with HiRes Fidelity 120, most noting that they had improved clarity of speech and/or that environmental sounds were clearer and easier to distinguish.

The HiResolution Bionic Ear System with optional HiRes Fidelity 120 is approved in the U.S. for adults only at this time and for all patients in Canada and Europe. The product is expected to be available in early 2007.


This is good news because? The processor that I'm getting at activation, the Auria, is supposed to be wonderful in its own right, but the folks that have put the Harmony through its paces in the clinical trials can't say enough good about it. I will be able to upgrade to this processor when it's available after Christmas...yahoo! I'm excited! :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday update :)

I'm feeling much better physically...not quite so run-down, although I'm still dizzy. There are times during the day when it isn't as bad, then it will flare up and get nasty, so I can't really say it's any better at all, but I still expect it to get better. It's only been a little over a week, I keep reminding myself, and this is all normal. Mom picked me up and drove me to Claire's school yesterday, since it was her 6th birthday (I need to take some pictures, but we haven't had any official celebrations yet...several little ones here and there, but nothing big and party-ish yet). We had lunch with her and then Mom and I went to Wal-Mart (I could walk fine there since I had a cart to act as a walker ;) ). I thought perhaps some Sudafed would help the stuffed-head sensation (it only helps a little), so I picked some up. I also looked around for one of those microbead pillows, but couldn't find one. Mom brought me one of her pillows to try...one of those big foam chiropracter pillows with the big dip in the middle, so I slept on that last night. After a week of sleeping terribly, I CRASHED on that pillow last night! It was WONDERFUL! I could sleep on my implanted side with little or no discomfort...ah! I have to admit that when Mom picked the little girls up from school this morning, I went back to bed...and I slept WAAAAAAAAYY too late....it felt so good to sleep WELL!!
Doug and Lisa came to get the kids and me for church last night, since I'm still not driving, and they brought us home. I feel so much better when I get out and am around people...being home makes me bananas. The wonderful church folks have all been so supportive and interested and I always enjoy being with them!!
When I woke up this morning after sleeping too late, I had some pleasant surprises...my aunt had come by to visit and brought me a Clean Cotton Yankee Candle, and my hubby had brought me a microbead Superman pillow and some Hershey's Special Dark Truffles Nuggets! Talk about feeling SPOILED!! I felt SO bad that I had missed my aunt's visit...I don't get to see her very often, and she has been one of my strongest supporters through all this CI business. Maybe I can make it up to her with a visit once I can drive again!!
Like I said, I'm feeling stronger...not so wiped out, a little more energetic...so today I went in the garage and worked on the hand-me-downs a bit. I think next week will be a little warmer than this one has been, but last night it actually got down in the 40s, and the girls didn't have any long-sleeved shirts in their closets, so I tackled that job more out of necessity than anything else. I still have a lot of work to do in that department...I basically just went through last year's clothes and looked to see if anything still fit (since I never got them properly put away last year). I still have rubbermaid tubs to look in to see if there's anything else I need to get out, then if we're lacking anything, the fun part: shopping to fill in the gaps! :D I did try not to over-do, since I get grumpy when I do, so I allowed my husband to drive us to eat Mexican for dinner instead of attempting to cook or heat up anything. Tomorrow night Katie is having a sleepover, so we will probably order pizza or something, then Saturday is my Grandma's birthday party (Grandma will be 95 tomorrow) and my niece's baby shower (baby Jaydyn is due Dec. 4th)...so I have a full schedule this weekend!
Oh, when I got home from Wal-Mart yesterday, Katie brought out some flowers that our friends Joe and Joy had sent. I have never seen a more beautiful arrangement in all my life. It has about four different colors of roses, hydrangeas, lilies, and I don't know what all else (I'm terribly flower illiterate)...it is the most colorful arrangement I've ever seen. A couple pictures below....perhaps you can help me identify some of the flowers, so we (OK, my husband, not WE) can plant some of them next year. I wish they'd last forever...they're so pretty!
I have felt so good today that I almost feel recovered, honestly. If only the dizziness would stop and the stitches would all fall out (I had to file my fingernails waaaaaaaaaay down tonight because I simply cannot keep my fingers off them)! They are making me batty!
I got a little good news this morning, and I hope I get to share it soon. Just waiting to make sure that what's supposed to happen really does happen! :)
Hope the new blog template is easier to read. The big Advanced Bionics picture below was squashed all over into my links with the other one and it annoyed me. I know I could have made the picture smaller, but I decided to change the template instead. I was bored with the other one ;) I was trying to do the Newsline template on this page but I couldn't make the red line at the top show up. I might try to add some bling to the blog in a few days but for now, this'll do :)
I hope everyone else is having a great week :)!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Nitty Gritty: How They Work (VERY LONG)

I have found over the past few months that most people know very little about cochlear implants, some people have never heard of cochlear implants, and some, like my grandma, thought that I was getting a cochlear transplant, as in organ donation (she's since been properly educated and knows more than a lot of folks now :) ). I've been asked many times over the past few days if I'm hearing yet. It doesn't bother me...it seems only logical that an implant to restore hearing would do just that, and people want to hear the good news, and if I didn't know better, I'd ask too :) But, no, I'm not hearing yet. Here's why:
The very process of being implanted destroys any leftover hearing in the implanted ear. The electrode array being pushed through the cochlea damages the tiny hairlike nerve fibers beyond repair. In my case, since I had enough "good" hearing in my "good" right ear to get some benefit from a hearing aid, Dr. Haynes chose to implant my worse left ear, which hasn't heard a sound in 30+ years, so I am not feeling the loss too keenly here...if all goes as planned, I will actually hear "in stereo" for the first time in years....how incredible would THAT be??
Here is what the internal component of the implant looks like (for the record, there are three major manufacturers; I have chosen to go with Advanced Bionics's HiRes90K Implant):

Advanced Bionics' website says that
A -- Implant
The most powerful implant available using state of the art computer technology to deliver electrical signals to the electrode array.
B -- Electrode Array
The only focusing electrodes for targeting the hearing nerves.

Here is a picture, snitched from Dr. Haynes' website, showing how the internal component is positioned:



And then, finally, there is an outer piece, or a processor, shown thusly:


and Advanced Bionics says:
A -- Headpiece
The smallest and lightest headpiece for transmitting to the implant.
B -- PowerCel
Most convenient and cost effective power option.
C -- Processor Module
Powerful processing technology that runs the same sophisticated sound processing software programs as the pager-style processor.
D --Microphone
The only interchangeable input accessory that captures sound in the ear for normal telephone and headphone use.

In a nutshell, here's how it works:
After the internal component is implanted, there is a healing time, usually between 3-6 weeks, and then the big day comes: ACTIVATION DAY! (By the way, the big day will be October 10th, at 9 AM!) On activation day, my audiologist, Susan Amberg, will hook me up with my new processor (which will be silver like the one above, and flashy ;) ). It will attach to my head by an earhook, which will slip on like a hearing aid, and a magnet, which is the circular thingy attached to the coil, above. The implanted part has a metal component that the magnet will attach to. I don't know every single little detail beyond that, but basically, the processor receives the sound, sends it through the coil, through the magnetic connection, through the electrode array, bypassing all those long-lost hearing nerves, straight to the auditory nerve. On Day One, my bewildered auditory nerve, who up until then will have lived a quiet, peaceful life, will be bombarded with a burst of electrical signals. Predictably, the response will be, "Huh?" Most new users don't report a great first day....the brain simply doesn't know what to do with all the new information it's receiving.
Over the next few days, weeks, months, and perhaps even years, the brain gradually begins to make sense of the signals. Most users report that over time, the sounds gradually become more and more natural. Voices go from sounding like beeps and whistles to actually sounding like voices. Crickets and cicadas become annoying. Music finally takes on musical tones. It's a process...usually a long, slow one, but the process varies tremendously from person to person. I can help the process along by listening, listening, listening. The more practice, the better the result. I think I will order Harry Potter on CD. That's something I think I'd enjoy listening to :)
Since I am now essentially part computer (my husband has taken to lovingly calling me his Bionic Woman), my software will need to be updated, tweaked, and generally maintained over the next few months and years. I will see my audiologist every week at first, then less frequently, and she will customize my software just for me, since I will have my own individual likes and dislikes sound-wise.
Do I hear yet? No....but if the Lord wills it, I will...soon :) The adventure is just beginning, folks!

If you're not dead yet from reading, there are updates below. I might keep this near the top for a few days, though, so the latecomers can read up :)

Monday, September 18, 2006

One week post-op...

I don't photograph well, sorry. I just wanted to show that the facial swelling has gone down, and now you can see that the ear really does stick out! It should get better in a few days, but for now, when I tuck my hair behind my ear, it stays put! It is all part of the swelling, both initernal and external, that will continue to get better over the next few days and weeks! :)
Also....note the CLEAN HAIR!!! Much better, eh? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Details, details...

D'Lee said in her comment that I hadn't mentioned if it hurt or not. I realized I hadn't said much about anything. Here's some brief details:
The surgery started promptly on time at 7:30 on Monday. I woke up in recovery around noon, but as soon as they told me I could go home, I immediately fell asleep again. I woke up again a couple more times, but both times got nauseated and sick, and the Phenergan they gave me would always knock me out again. At one point we managed, in between sleeping and being sick, to get my clothes on (then I fell back asleep). I finally woke up at 3:00, and my husband said, "Don't close your eyes! NURSE! Where's a wheelchair?!?!" (He said it half jokingly, half truthfully, but the truth of the matter was that if they hadn't gotten that chair fast, we would have been there all day.) So we stuffed me in the car and I slept all the way home. The rest of Monday was a blur of sleeping and throwing up.
I woke up Tuesday feeling OK...took my lovely turban off after lunch and was unimpressed to find a big old sticking-out ear, a swollen face and a bruised neck. I continued to take my pain pills during the day, and thankfully, wasn't sick anymore. Tuesday was my best day, except I looked frightful. The little girls came home from school and had a great time being grossed out ("Let me look, Mom! EEEEEEWWWWWWWW!! Let me look again! EEEEEEEEWWWWWWW!", etc., until the novelty wore off). Claire had a parent meeting that night (which I didn't attend) and cried because I wouldn't print her some pictures of my incision to take to show everyone.
Yesterday I woke up all excited that THIS was THE BIG DAY that I could shower and wash that nasty hair!! So around lunchtime Dicky slathered the entire ear, inside and out, with Neosporin, I covered it up with a washcloth, and emerged some ten minutes later feeling human again, with somewhat nicer-looking hair (still greasy around the ear from the Neosporin). The face was still grossly swollen...blech. I got back in bed and about an hour later, felt horrible...not so much pain, although I did have an earache, but horrible pressure and swelling all around my ear, (that horrible pressure you get when you're going up a mountain and your ears need to be popped, except I'm not allowed to pop mine) and bad dizziness. I briefly wondered if the nausea would return as well, but thankfully, it didn't. I fired off a quick e-mail to Joyce asking her if feeling so bad all of a sudden was normal, and she quickly e-mailed me back, setting my mind at ease. It is SO wonderful to have a support system of CI friends to call on when you need a question answered! She said that I would probably feel better today, which, thankfully, is true. I still feel a little dizzy and a little sore, but my face is closer to a normal size today, and the pressure inside my eardrum isn't quite as bad. As long as the dizziness stays down to a dull roar today, I may be able to string together a couple of coherent paragraphs to finish my Psych paper. Hooray!
I don't feel horrible pain so much, although, obviously, I can't lay on it or anything. I feel a bit of soreness, although it comes more from inside than the incision. The incision is starting to itch. I'm not taking pain pills so much for pain as I am to try to regulate when I sleep (last night I just took some ibuprofen and slept fine). The pressure and dizziness have been my major complaints, and some people don't even have that. I do have a fairly common side effect...everything tastes salty. Occasionally some of the nerves in the face can be affected by the swelling, and in my case, my taste buds were affected (this is usually temporary). I also cannot feel the top of my ear (a strange sensation!)
I will now open the floor to questions.... ;)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Here's a picture of the incision site. I was so happy that Dr. Haynes didn't shave off a lot of hair...some surgeons shave huge bald spots! Dr. Haynes followed the contour of the ear and went up directly over the ear. He did shave a little strip straight up, but I have the feeling that when I can fix my hair again, it won't be noticeable. Lovely eh?
 Posted by Picasa

Glamour girl!!

I told my husband this morning when I got up that today was definitely shower day. I felt like Medusa when I woke up this morning! Just for laughs, here's a picture. The surgeon told Dicky and my mom that he didn't know why in the world I'd want to wash my hair, since it was cleaner than it would ever be. There's a big difference between "sterile" and "clean" in my book ;)
If you'll notice, the left side of my face is swollen (it actually looks a little worse in real life than in the picture) and the left ear sticks out a bit. I wonder how long it will take for all this swelling to go down?
Anyhow, I've had the shower, and the hair at least looks better, or at least most of it does...to prevent infection, we slathered the incision liberally with Neosporin and covered it all with a washcloth while I washed the surrounding hair. The bit right around the ear is still a bit of a mess :) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

T-minus 16 hours and counting...

I'm just trying to get through today. I'm so excited I cannot wait! Mother-in-law is watching the kids tonight and Dicky and I are driving to Nashville and staying at a hotel about five minutes from Vanderbilt. I have to be there at 6 AM, so this way, we can sleep in until 5 (if I sleep at all). I can see myself sitting bolt upright in the bed at 3 AM playing cards on the computer :) Surgery is scheduled for 7:30. I don't know yet when my hook-up date will be...the day when I hear my first sounds from my new implant. I am guesstimating in about to to three weeks...basically, whenever the incision heals enough.
This week has been spent in housecleaning and frantically doing schoolwork to get ahead so I won't have to work as much next week. Dicky and I drove the Escape to its new owner in Huntsville, AL yesterday morning. The title FINALLY came in, oh, about Wednesday. TWO MONTHS after we picked it up! Ugh! Our friend Jon Sr. let us borrow Abigail, his Garmin Streetfinder GPS (I am in love, but don't want to pay the money for one) to find the house, and it took us right there. We were going to find somewhere nice to eat on the way home, since it was my 35th birthday (Thanks to everyone that wished me a happy one! BlueCross is buying the present this year!) but I acccidentally pushed "find shortest route" instead of "find fastest route" on Abigail, and we ended up driving through the boondocks all the way home, with nary a nice restaurant in sight. We ended up eating at The Barn in Fayetteville, TN, which was not much to look at, but pretty good eating...$6.50 plus tax apiece for the lunch buffet, drink included, with delicious fried chicken and banana pudding. As soon as we got home we added the finishing touches to the house and then the church kids came for their monthly Bible study. While the kids were studying I worked on my Psych paper. I'm about 2/3 of the way through with it....I'm hoping to get it done tonight, if I can think straight.
I've been promised home cooking by several different people this week, so the family and I will be taken care of. In fact, our friend Connie is ahead of the game, as she brought some Amish Friendship Bread, in four flavors (chocolate, cinnamon, lemon poppyseed, and coconut....nothing "bread" about 'em...this was CAKE) Thursday to build up my strength for the upcoming ordeal (at least I think that's what she was trying to do). She did a fine job. I feel much stronger already. I think the Amish in her reared its head again this weekend because when I got in the van this morning after church I found that we had been gifted with another fresh loaf of bread (this one smells like actual bread...with a little butter, it will be to die for). She's going to gift me right out of my pants if she's not careful...they're already getting tight.
Having said that, I'm considering taking Tallahassee Lassie's advice and having a big bowl of brownies and ice cream tonight before midnight (nothing after). She had a good result, you know, when she had hers, and I want the best possible result with mine.
Keep the prayers coming. God answers them.

Friday, September 1, 2006

It just keeps getting better...

I e-mailed Wendi back Wednesday night, telling her that I would take the October 27th date, but jokingly (well, halfway jokingly, anyhow) commented that I'd do it tomorrow if they had an opening.
We got up yesterday morning, drove to Gatlinburg, TN, unpacked in a gorgeous chalet high up in the hills, and I discovered that there was no Internet. I unplugged the phone, plugged in my phone cable, and got a free Netzero High-Speed (hah!) Dial-Up Internet account. In about half an hour I was reading my e-mails. There was one from Wendi saying that I could have the October 27th date if I wanted it, but that there had been a cancellation....for September 11th...if I wanted it. DO HENS LAY EGGS? DO BIRDS FLY? Of COURSE I wanted it!!!!! I tried to e-mail her back, but Netzero and Charter decided that they were drawing the line at playing nicely together right there, and wouldn't let me e-mail her back. I could have used my Yahoo! Mail and e-mailed her, but remember, I was using Netzero High-Speed (hah!) Dial-Up Internet, and the appointment would have been given away, Wendi would have gone home for the day, fed and bathed her children and gone to bed by the time I got the e-mail sent, so I dispatched my hubby to borrow Lisa's cell phone and CALL her instead. I was overjoyed to find that the spot was still open, and, after professing my love for Wendi, who is the Worlds' Best Surgery Coordinator, we told her I'd take it :) So, September 11th at 7:30 AM, I will be implanted. I CANNOT WAIT!!! I am SO BLESSED!!!!!
Of course, it will be documented, and I'll probably take some gross pictures, and will share all the hair-raising details, so watch this space...I will have something to blog about!
We're headed out in a few minutes to the Dollywood Dixie Stampede (I would hyperlink, but I would like to finish this post today). We've gone several times before, but it's an awesome show and always worth seeing again. I will post a few pictures SOMETIME of our travels. As
dial-up royally stinks, and the nearest wifi hotspot is supposedly about 20 minutes away, it might be a few days before I can either post with any regularity or post pictures, but I'll be back pretty soon :) In the meantime, y'all can enjoy my good news...and disregard my ticker, since it would take too long for me to change it today :)