Friday, August 29, 2008

On the road to recovery! :)

I would have updated sooner, but last night after the surgery I was just about unconscious. I went to the pre-surgery holding room around 1 and went through all the routine questions, the bloodwork, the IV, the oh-so-adorable compression stockings. Around 1:50 they informed me that Dr. Haynes was in the building and started pushing my bed towards the OR. The anesthesiologist was walking beside me carrying a syringe, and I asked him, "Did you already put that in?" and he answered, "yep, sure did". I told him, "Funny, I thought it worked faster than that!" and he just grinned. About five seconds later, he turned around and said, "Now it's gonna work!" and right when he said that, my arms and legs turned icy and then my brain went numb. I laughed and said, "Yep...it's working". I remember him wheeling me into the OR and seeing a machine with letters on it. They allowed me to keep my processor on all the way into the OR, and the last thing I heard them say was "Breathe into this mask". I heard them say it, though...cool!!
The surgery started around 2:30 and I was out by 4:30. Apparently I slept all the way through recovery and all the way upstairs to the room I was in. The first time I remember waking up I asked hubby what time it was and he said "6:20". I told him that I was in a lot of pain, and told him we needed to get home...HearingJourney has a CI chat every Thursday night, and my muddy brain determined that I should be there at all costs. About that time the nurse shot my IV up with morphine and I was out like a light again. I woke up around 7 and told him that we REALLY NEEDED TO GO HOME. He said, "Are you ready to go? to which I responded, "let me sleep another five minutes" and crashed again. Then I woke up at 7:40, and this time managed to stay awake long enough to throw clothes on, be violently ill, and climb into a wheelchair for the ride to the car. I told hubby to stop and get me a drink somewhere (I had a Sprite during one of my alert moments, but was too sleepy to enjoy it or find the straw without help). I suggested that he stop down the road a bit, since downtown Nashville traffic can be crazy...then I fell asleep again. I woke up at the Sonic in Murfreesboro long enough to order a Mocha Java Chiller, but fell asleep AGAIN with it in one hand and my BlackBerry in the other. Every now and then someone would send a text message and the buzzing would wake me up. I'd get a drink and then peer groggily at the BB to see who the messages were from, but I literally could not read 'em...too zonked. When we got home I realized while getting out of the car that the Java Chiller wasn't meant to stay with me...ugh! It still wasn't as bad as it was after my first surgery...I was sick nearly non-stop for several hours that time...but this time I was loaded up on Antivert, a scopolamine patch, and Zofran...so I had at least a LITTLE help...it could have been much worse!!
I had intended to visit the HearingJourney chat room as soon as I got home, but instead I crawled into bed, jeans and all, and went to sleep again. I woke up around 11 looking for medication, then took some and headed back to sleep. I tossed and turned all night long...the surgery was done on the ear that I usually sleep on, AND the turban I was wearing was so tight that it was making my other CI ear very sore. The best way for me to sleep with no pain was flat on my back...but I can't sleep that way! I finally woke up around 9 this morning and have spent the day taking it easy, playing on the computer, reading magazines, eating chocolate and DRINKING COFFEE. I took the headwrap off around 7 PM...it was SO TIGHT that it was really adding to the whole pain thing. I felt better almost immediately. My hair looks absolutely horrible, though! I was allowed to wash it after 48 hours last time. I forgot to ask him how long I should wait this time, but I'm going to wait until it's been at least the full 48 before I do anything.
I have just a little vertigo, not much...the pain has settled down a bit since the turban came off. The surgeon said that he didn't see anything wrong with the previous one when he took it out...but he told hubby that he thought that giving it another shot was the thing to do as sometimes a reimplant changes things regardless of the problem. He told me yesterday morning that he was moving it up higher on my head as well...it was a bit lower than the other one and I had problems with the processor rubbing on it when I was still wearing it. I haven't dared to really try to find it just yet...there's a big knot on my head but I don't feel like messing with it right now :).
I was so groggy the early part of today that I couldn't write anything...I had a horrible time typing, because my fingers, eyes and brain were not working together at all! Think they're slowly starting to play nice again now that all the post-surgery stuff is washing out.
I'm posting some pictures in the Picasa Web Albums...check them out! :) Some of them are BAD...I simply COULD NOT stay awake! I'll probably post more over the next day or so...stay tuned!
Thanks for the prayers and well wishes and all the cups of coffee consumed on my behalf yesterday! It meant so much to have you all behind me! Again, I apologize for not posting sooner...I intended to do it last night but I couldn't even type an e-mail...too zonked!
I love you all! :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Counting down the hours....

...until re-implant surgery. Right now, it's just a little less than 24 hours to go. I have to be in Nashville at 8:20 for a pre-op appointment, then drive over to Baptist Hospital for my surgery at 2. This will make my third venue for as many surgeries...I am slowly becoming familiar with every hospital in town! ;)
I saw Dr. Haynes last night at an open house for the Nashville League for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and talked to him for a few. I asked him if he thought the surgery would be shorter because he wouldn't have as much drilling to do, and to my surprise he said that he didn't think it would be much different time-wise. He said that because of scar tissue, possible bone regrowth, and the time to actually remove the implant, it would work out about the same. I don't remember exactly how long it took last time (I was zonked when I woke up) but seems like it was about 3 hours or so. I will try to at least post something letting everyone know I'm home, but since it will be later in the day I imagine I'll be ready to hit the sheets when I get home! If something goes crazy I'll get my husband to contact either Abbie or Laurie...so if I don't post anything, check out their blogs :).
The Open House was neat...the League has a new CEO and it was great to get to see her again and talk to her, even if it was just for a short period of time...she had so many people to talk to!
While I was talking to Dr. Haynes, I got called away briefly, and when I turned back around, I did a double take...he was talking to a really special blast from my past. Ann Sitton was my very first full-time audiologist. I might have seen another one here or there at the very beginning, but Ann was the one that I saw on all my visits to the Bill Wilkerson Clinic in Nashville...when I was four years old. Ann was the first one to read me the classic "hot dog", "baseball", "sidewalk" and "cupcake".
"Miss Sitton" made all my earmolds and ordered all my hearing aids and I just LOVED her. She hasn't changed a bit, although I personally have gotten quite a bit taller since then. When I started losing the rest of my hearing back in March of 2006 I had my mom call her to see if she approved of our local audiologist's recommendation that we should get Dr. Haynes to implant me...and she heartily approved, which made my decision that much easier. I hadn't seen her in probably 14 years...the last time I saw her was when Will was a year old and I needed a new hearing aid. Soon after that we got a local audiologist and I didn't need to make the drive to Nashville anymore. It was GREAT to see her and catch up just a bit...Dr. Haynes filled her in on the implant situation and I got to talk to her a bit about my involvement with Advanced Bionics and HLAA.


Speaking of which, last night I got to spend some time with two awesome people from the HLAA national office! Nancy Macklin and Chris Sutton are in town checking out the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for the 2009 HLAA convention! I met Chris in Reno but had never met Nancy before. I went to the hotel to meet them and we hit it off right away. After a few minutes of visiting and "horsing around" (there is a picture to go with that...but it's not on my camera) and walking through the ENORMOUS HOTEL we located my car (it was in a no-park zone so we were relieved it was where I left it) and got in the car and headed for the League. Nancy and Chris got an impromptu tour of I-24 East...I took a wrong turn somewhere and was headed back towards my house for several miles before I realized my mistake! We all enjoyed a good laugh over that and then turned around and headed back the other way. We have nominated me "Person Who Should Not Drive The Airport Shuttle Bus" at next year's convention. Honestly, I even got lost in the hotel, so I suspect I will need my own personal tour guide at the convention. I wonder if they would pay for me to spend a few days there at the hotel getting the lay of the land a bit?
Nancy and Chris went to the League open house with me, then we and several of the Nashers went to Logan's for dinner. We ended up staying there until around 11 talking about convention stuff! Then I drove Nancy and Chris back to the hotel and headed home. I am SO looking forward to working with them over the next year and seeing them at the convention in June! :)
About to hop in the shower, then it's off to Mexican and church...then to drink that last cup of coffee before bed. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight...*sigh*. Thanks SO MUCH to all of you who have commented here, e-mailed, or posted on HearingJourney.com...I have such an incredible support system. I'm VERY grateful in particular to my family and to Laurie, Abbie, Sam, and Gloria...they listened to my concerns and encouraged me to try again...without them I might still be trying to get up the nerve to do it! Will catch you all on the other side...love you all!!
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weekend at Abbie's! :)

I took a little trip over the weekend...to New Jersey! I had been really missing Abbie and my hubby kindly suggested that I go visit her. He didn't have to ask me twice :). We started planning this trip about a month ago but it took this long to find the right weekend...we had church activities, Katie's birthday, the beginning of the school year, and the Nashville HLAA elections filling up the last few weekends. We settled on the date and on July 28th I ordered my plane tickets! :D
I got to Philadelphia Friday afternoon around 3:30 and by the time I had located baggage claim (thanks to the kindness of strangers) and located my bag Abbie texted me to say that she was just around the corner from the airport. She pulled up in that incredible inedible eco-egg of hers and we had ourselves a hug party right there before throwing the bags into the trunk.
She took me on a brief tour of South Philly (with doors locked and bated breath) then we got on the freeway and headed for Cherry Hill, NJ. We met Wayne Roorda and his wife Lili for dinner at the Mandarin Buffet there. The buffet was huge and I lost count of how many plates I had and how many fortune cookies Abbie got before settling on the perfect one! We headed home from there and I got to meet Abbie's mom and her wild baby Bella! Bella is an adorable, feisty shih tzu furball who gave me several hours of careful consideration before deciding that I was acceptable company for Abbie...she and I bonded over about half a slice of zucchini bread that I allowed her to confiscate from my plate. Abbie's mom, Abbie and I stayed up way late that night talking and laughing before heading to bed!
Saturday Abbie and I went out to brunch at one of New Jersey's famous diners...can't remember the name of it. I had a hard time choosing what I wanted to eat...I was torn between the omelets with home fries and the french toast...so I ended up with the french toast and a side of home fries. The "side" was ENORMOUS...I probably only ate about half of it...and yummy...I'm a huge hash browns fan :).
After that we headed out to Woodbridge, NJ to the mall there to meet one of our CI buddies and one of my very favorite people, Sam Spritzer. I first met Sam through his blog in the spring of last year. He and Laurie were some of my first buddies to go bilateral and they were some of my biggest cheerleaders, first when I was trying to decide whether to go for the second implant and then when I was going through all my insurance drama. He and Abbie and I got to be good buddies when all of our blogs were listed on the Advanced Bionics blog list last fall and we all joined the HearingJourney family. I've known him so long that when we met for the first time it wasn't at all like meeting a stranger...I knew him on sight and felt immediately almost like he was part of the family. After the initial flurry of greetings and hugs and inadvertedly knocking magnets off (one of the hazards of hugging a CIer), we decided the quietest spot to sit might be outside so we found a comfortable spot and talked for a while, even engaging in some listening therapy with Abbie's Bluetooth (which is really, really cool, and I have decided that I need one). At some point I volunteered the fact that I needed coffee (I actually attempted to sign it but that didn't go so hot) so we headed back in and found the Starbucks. We sat there for so long that it was a wonder they didn't toss us out...then we shopped for a bit. Shopping progress was slow...we actually spent more time trying to watch where we were going than shopping, since it's hard for three deaf people to walk and talk at the same time :). At least it didn't feel awkward...this is the way our lives have always been and we are comfortable with it and can find the humor in it. We finally left Sam in the parking lot outside the mall after making him promise to consider coming to the Nashville convention next year! It was such a great visit...I'm so glad we all managed to get together!
We went out to another Chinese buffet for dinner afterwards but French toast, home fries, and Starbucks were still sitting fairly heavily in my stomach so I couldn't eat much. Abbie's mom and her neighbor Jan came with us and we had a great time sitting and visiting. After a couple of hours of that we dropped off Mom and Jan back at the house and then headed out to Point Pleasant to the boardwalk! I hadn't ever been on a boardwalk before...carnival rides and places to eat and games and lemonade stands :). We skipped all the rides and headed out to the Atlantic. I dropped my bag and my Birks at what looked like a safe distance from the shore (it would have been a disaster if they had been washed out to sea!), rolled up my jeans, and headed into the surprisingly warm water.
It was a special occasion for both of us because neither of us had heard the ocean since our activations. The last time I had been to the ocean I was in possession of one CI with issues and one dead ear...I didn't hear it at all. The time before that, what I heard with a hearing aid was just a roar...all the sounds blended together. This time was different...we could hear the water as it crested and rushed towards the shore...could hear the soft "pshhhh" as it dispersed along the sand and headed back out to the ocean...occasionally, a wave coming in would meet one on the way out and there would be a loud splashing sound as they collided together...that crash was always enough to make me stop talking and turn to look. We could also hear people's voices as they walked on the beach, a few radioactive birds as they flew overhead, and the chirping of Abbie's BlackBerry and a couple of patrol cars back on land :). I had heard the ocean before...but never like this. And to be honest, the last time I heard it, I didn't appreciate it like I do now...I had no idea that soon all the tiny hair cells in my cochlea would be gone...that the one ear I'd depended on for years would soon be useless, hair cells replaced with a shiny curling electrode array. I didn't know how much I was missing until I stood there beside the ocean at Point Pleasant and heard the virtual orchestra of sound...amazing :). It was incredible to be there with Abbie...because she understood exactly what I'd lost, what I'd regained, and everything in between. We kinda joked that anyone else would have been looking at their watches and heading for the car after about ten minutes of listening to water...but we must have been out there about an hour, just taking it all in. This Southern girl gets cold when it gets below 80 degrees at night during the summer, and it was a bit chilly, but we had come prepared with sweaters and the night air felt perfect. We finished our excursion by walking down the boardwalk and purchasing a huge pretzel and large lemonade from a friendly *cough*, polite *cough* vendor before heading back to the car.
The next afternoon, running on mostly coffee and very little sleep, we climbed the Barnegat Bay Lighthouse. By the time we got to the top, we were both too exhausted to do much more than throw ourselves on the railing and huff and puff and admire the view in between gasps. We both made some rash vows to get in shape (I've already forgotten what mine was) and then tottered back down all nearly 300 steps (it was much easier going down but I felt like I had gotten off a merry-go-round when I hit the ground at last!). We never did regain momentum after that...we loaded up with Sonic burgers, with Diet Cherry Limeades (Abbie had never had Sonic before so I got to introduce her to my favorite Southern treat!), and Dunkin' Donuts coffee...to no avail...we were worn out. We headed back to the house and attempted to make conversation but were too dazed to talk. It just seemed too early to go to bed on our LAST NIGHT TOGETHER so we pulled out the laptops and got our synapses firing a bit. We both idly threatened to blog but it was probably a good thing we didn't...it wouldn't have made much sense. We finally agreed at midnight to call it a day.
The next day I had to be at the airport at around 11:30 so we attempted, albeit grudgingly, to get up and moving and out the door. Reluctant to put me back on the plane, we drove at snail speed all the way to the airport, even stopping for coffee, but luck was against us; there was no wait at Dunkin' Donuts, traffic was nonexistent, and we didn't get lost even once...got there in plenty of time. I started sniffling as Abbie pulled away from the curb and sniffled all the way through the check-in and security. I found my gate and got my preboarding pass FOUR MINUTES before boarding...I got preboarding pass, sat down on the floor by the door, and then announced it was time to get on the plane! Good-bye, Jersey...I miss ya already! :)
I miss Abbie terribly already...the Nashville convention seems so far away! I'm so grateful that we live in an age where we can stay in touch with IM and our phones...the distance between us doesn't seem quite so far :). It was hard leaving that girl...when she asked if I'd consider letting her adopt me as a pet and perhaps we could raise my kids via webcam, I had to choose between laughing and crying and the laughing only lasted about a second before the tears took over! it was a great weekend...one I won't ever forget! :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wow!

I really, really, really didn't realize that it had been that long since I posted anything until last week. Then I noted the date of that last post and thought, "wow...too long!" I had a few things that I wanted to wait about before I posted, so I decided to just hold out.
First of all, surgery is confirmed for the 28th...I have all the paperwork and everything. I have to be there at like 8:30 in the morning but the surgery is not until 2. I can't believe I will have to be coffee- and food-deprived for so long...grrrrrr!! Anyway...hard to believe that two weeks from Thursday it will be over and done with....hooray! :)
I spent Thursday night in Nashville with Laurie! She came down for her quarterly Governor's Council meeting and invited me to come stay at the DoubleTree with her. We went to PF Chang's for dinner and then stayed up and talked for a while. I had picked up a brand new Hewlett-Packard laptop on the way there so we played with that for a while...I love a new toy! :). We were IMing with Abbie and she suggested we download ooVoo. After we did that we were up WAY too late...we were having too much fun to go to sleep!!! I went to Laurie's meeting with her on Friday morning. It was at the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in downtown Nashville, and there was a class they were offering that I wanted to take so I signed up for it while I was there. I will be taking Conversational ASL on Tuesday nights starting on Sept. 9th and going through Thanksgiving, I think. I have been wanting to learn it for a long time and last year the schedule didn't work so that I could go....this year, thankfully, it works out fine! The first class will be 12 days after my surgery...I am assuming that I will be driving by that point *crosses fingers*. This is just a Level 1 class...they will offer Level 2 in the spring. I want to learn as much as possible before the HLAA convention next summer!
Saturday was our monthly HLAA meeting. We had the officer elections this month and I was absolutely thrilled to death when they voted me in as president of our group! When they nominated me last month I was so excited about the possibility...especially with the convention being here next summer it will give me so many new opportunities and will introduce me to so many great new people. HLAA is trying to get more young people involved in the organization and is trying to make next year's convention more "youth-friendly". I'm a member of a group that was put together by HLAA to try to reach out to young adults. Funny thing is that I'm technically too old to be one of the "young adults"...for categorization purposes, they are calling the 18-35 age group "young" and I will be 37 in September! If you read this blog and you're deaf/hard of hearing and under 35, please let me hear from you...I need your input on several things...thank you! :) I am also the new webmaster of the Nashville HLAA website...does anyone have any tips for working with Bravenet? I am having a time with it (too blonde, perhaps)...I am looking for other web hosting sites that are easier to use for when our domain expires in the spring!
The past few weeks have been busy with various home things...the girls are starting to school this week and next and I'm trying to finish rounding up our home school materials for the high school kids. The rest of the month looks equally busy...it will be a relief when September gets here and we can settle into some sort of routine!
OK...off to finish my grocery list and head out to the store...will try to update a little sooner next time! :)