Skipped Step Two: Cochlear Implants

Skipped Step 2
Step 3 and 4

Getting to “skip” having to get a CAT scan made this southern gal a very happy camper! The MRI I had to have last year to rule out an acoustic neuroma was not something I wanted to experience again, even by way of a test with a different acronym! The only good thing about that MRI, was that it would take the place of the needed CAT!

Step 3
Seeing the surgeon. Hubby and I again headed for Baltimore to John Hopkins early Monday morning, doing our best to beat rush hour traffic. If I weren’t so nervous about these visits, I suppose I’d enjoy the view of the Inner Harbor and could actually enjoy Terry’s enthusiasm for the beautiful ships. Right before we got to the hospital, Terry pulled out his camera hoping to get a picture of the ridiculous sign that we saw on our last visit. At the gate a laminated hand-written sign had said, “If you are deaf, honk your horn for the attendant”. Duh! But alas! No sign. Maybe someone wised-up?

I actually stopped at security this time to have my stuff searched. Last time I thought I could breeze right through and really upset the poor guards who didn’t understand at first I couldn’t hear. Would you believe it was the same guard? I walked right up, unzipped all my bags, tapped my badge and grinned. He recognized me. He wasn’t about to smile outright, but he had an awfully big twinkle in his eye! I’m sure he remembered fearing he was going to have to tackle me and cuff me when I ignored him last time! Terry and I went right on up to “The Listening Center”. Doncha love that name? GRIN!

I signed in, and went through the mountains of paperwork (why can’t they copy everything and everyone use the same forms?) We didn’t have to wait long. I was so nervous I don’t think I could have handled a long wait.

Hubby and I were ushered into an examination room, where I got to give my history AGAIN, only verbally this time to a very nervous intern. Nice guy, but very young! Oh gosh. That makes me sound OLD, doesn’t it? Any-whooooo, he has a bit of an accent so I have to ask him to repeat things a couple of times. I finally stretch my arm out as far as my pocket talker cord will let me and gestured to him to speak into “that”. Young – but smart! He complies! Next he tests my balance, my visual cues and reactions, etc. Finally the surgeon comes in. He and Hubby have met before and talk a little bit. I was afraid I may have to stomp my foot like a child and remind both of them WHY we were here. He went over my audiological tests with me, explained that I fell well within the guidelines for those who would benefit from a CI, showed me on some charts and pictures “what” a CI was and what the surgery involved. Did I look like someone who had come in un-informed? Didn’t he know I belonged to CIHear? Grin! I was very polite and listened. However, I was thinking that if I HAD NOT done my homework already that I would truly be lost! It’s impossible to look at a picture or a chart on a clipboard and follow the pen of the doctor while looking at his face and mouth as well! Even with my PT, I really wasn’t getting much. I asked for clarification on a couple of things – like why 2 meningitis vaccines? He then explained that the left side would be best to implant, as my right ear still received some advantage from a high-powered hearing aid.

I piped up and said, “But I have this growth on the left side of my head” (all explained in my history –probably scar tissue or something from the accident decades ago?)

He said, “Oh that’s not a problem, but let me take a look at it”. He got quiet. Really quiet. He cleared his throat… “Well, that’s going to have to come off. It’ll be in the way of the magnet.”

I exclaimed, “Great! I’ve been wanting it off for years!” I was almost jumping up and down actually! Many a hairdresser had almost fainted when coming into contact with it.

He turned and looked me in the eye, “Denise it has to come off today! If……… that’s okay with you”

Oh.

Today?

Terry looked at me wide-eyed. He wasn’t psyched up for this. I interrupted where HIS thoughts were going by saying out loud,

“Sure!”

So local anesthetic, scalpel, nurses, cutting, stitches, looking at hubby’s pale face as people moved in and out, and 40 minutes later…………. I walk out of the office and down the hallway to Step 4.

Step 4
The Shrink

This time hubby had to wait. Grin. How else could I talk about him behind his back! (Wink, wink) What a nice lady! She asked me tons of questions. Most were pretty standard “initial consultation” type of questions. I had plied my own hubby for ideas of what to expect, as he is a psychologist by training. However, she did ask me about the implant too. Did I know what it was? What did I expect of the surgery? What did I expect while waiting for hookup? What kind of support system did I have at home? What did I expect at hookup? How long did I think the mapping process would take? All questions I had researched so carefully already! All questions to which I had numerous first-hand reports from CI folk!

I left some CIHear brochures in the lobby at The Listening Center. I hope other people could come in as informed as I felt I was!

I see the audiologist again in 2 weeks for a “device class”. That’s Step 5.

Thanks CIHear – for making all my steps far less mysterious!

Denise Portis
Frederick, MD
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

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One thought on “Skipped Step Two: Cochlear Implants

  1. Well, I didnt know there was a psyhological test yet I can see the need. A Cat scan wpuld be good for me as I had a surgery at birth, which put metal plates in my head to keep bones open for my brain to grow. I would like to see how far the plates go, & if a magnet in me would make a difference. My surgeon said not a problems. according to this, I have fears & lots of questions & am glad they have tests & a psych eval. interesting & quite informative Denise. .

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