Hey guys! Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Everything has been pretty insane.
The whole cochlear implant journey has all been happening so fast. I met with Dr. Willcox at Jefferson on September 19th. The appointment went so well! Mom and I both had like a million questions to ask him and he answered every single one without hesitating. To say that Mom and I were impressed would be an understatement. We were SO impressed that we decided right away to go with Jefferson for the surgery…we cancelled the appointment with UPenn (plus, we weren’t sure if insurance would cover a second consultation appointment anyway).
They tested my hearing at that appointment and it actually did drop a little bit since my last appointment a year ago, which in this case would be a good thing. The audiologist (I forget her name) and Dr. Willcox said so long as I didn’t have anything medically wrong with me they didn’t see why I wouldn’t be approved for surgery.
My next appointment was a physical with my family doctor. It was a pretty annoying appointment. My family doctor is obsessed with the HPV shot, which I don’t agree with at all (but that’s another story…) so most of the appointment was just him telling me I should get a shot that I’m never ever going to get. But it went by fast and he gave me the medical clearance I needed for surgery.
After that I just had to get a CT Scan and an MRI.
The girl who did the MRI was pretty good. I had to remove my hearing aids so naturally I had a hard time hearing. She was very good with working with me and pointing things out/using hand signals to communicate with me (for those who don’t know I never learned sign language, but I definitely rely on my sight to “hear” things…). My mom kept saying “This is the last MRI you’ll ever have” which was a kind of weird thing to think. An exciting kind of weird though. Due to the magnet that they implant inside you, you can’t get an MRI with a cochlear implant. I mean I guess technically you can…but it would require surgery to have the magnet removed. So it’s definitely not advisable.
The CAT Scan was much much much quicker than the MRI. Seriously took them like 10 minutes or less. But it was also much, much, much more annoying. Not the test itself but the part leading up to the test. I had a different technician (or is it nurse? Whatever you call those people that do the tests…) and she wasn’t quite as good at communicating with me as the other one was. She had to verify my date of birth and confirm that I’m definitely not pregnant. These two questions would take any one else two seconds to answer…but…I had to have my hearing aids out for the test. So she had to ask me like ten million times before I could actually figure out what she was asking me. Then I was annoyed. Because I already answered these questions on my paper work. And they asked me like a zillion times if I was or thought I may be pregnant. I hate how if you’re a woman between the ages of 18-30 they think there must be a chance that you could be pregnant. I understand why they have to ask and that it’s their job and blah blah blah but do they have to ask me that like 100 times? If I said no the first time I’m pretty sure I didn’t go and get pregnant in the 10 minutes that went by since you first asked lol but seriously…
Overall the testing went well though and once it was over I had three main thoughts:
- I will never get this done again (unless I have surgery to remove a magnet from my head first.
- Soon I’ll be able to hear doctors and nurses and receptionists when I need a medical procedure done and it won’t be so awkward.
- I’m one step closer to getting my surgery! How exciting!
The MRI/CAT Scan were the last of what I like to refer to as the “stupid, waste of time” tests.
I met with a team of audiologists for the second time on November 6th. This was my final day of pre-surgery testing/evaluations. First I had to answer a long list of questions about what my expectations were for the cochlear implant. This was to ensure that my expectations were in line with what would actually happen and to make sure I understood that getting a cochlear implant would take a lot of work. After they activate me, I’ll need to train my brain to hear the sounds – I won’t just automatically be able to hear and understand everything right away. The audiologists all said that my expectations all were right in line with what would actually happen, so I passed that test.
The audiologist also showed me what the implant will look like and explained how it works and what it comes with. Here are some pictures I took.
The white thing to the left is the processor. It will go behind my ear like my hearing aids do now and then the circle thing is the external magnet that goes onto my head and connects with the internal magnet. The black thing is the battery. The other white thing is a charging station with the batteries. The clear thing is the actual magnet that will be implanted in my head.
Here are some batteries that are being charged. It comes with rechargeable batteries. There are smaller ones that last up to 12 hours and bigger ones 16. I chose the bigger ones because I’d rather have it last longer than have it smaller.
After she was finished talking we did a ton of hearing tests 99%of which were with my hearing aids to see how well the hearing aids work for me now and to try to determine which ear to implant (I’m just getting the implant in one ear now). We started off with just some sounds and I had to raise my hand whenever I heard the sounds. Then I had some words I had to repeat, which of course I messed up pretty good lol. Even with hearing aids my clarity is horrendous. Then I had some sentences to repeat. Some of the sentences were weird. One was about a monkey learning sign language lol. I did better with the sentences but still struggled. Sometimes I could only pick out some words from the sentences. I did so-so. But when she added background noise I couldn’t get hardly any of them. When she mixed it with male and female voices plus background noises it was nearly impossible, especially for the female voice. I have really horrendous hearing when it comes to high-frequency sounds…
My implant is going to be the Advanced Bionics Naida CI Q70. One of the cool things with the cochlear implant is that unlike my hearing aids, it comes in several colors. I got to choose. Here’s a picture of all of the colors to choose from:
I picked the red one with a black cord (the cord comes in either white, black, or beige. I thought black would go the best.). Of course the color I picked has been discontinued. It’s not a big deal but they did tell me there’s a chance that if I ever need my processor to be replaced the replacement may be a different color and it may not match the battery or head piece anymore. Definitely not a big deal. To be honest, it would kind of be cool to have multiple colors lol. I’m definitely not one for being discreet. I’m proud of my implant and I want to stand out!
They also asked me which ear I wanted to have implanted. They said most of the time people choose their worst ear, but for me both of my ears are pretty much exactly the same so it really wouldn’t matter. For awhile my left ear was my worst ear. Something told me to just go with that one, so I did.
As for my most exciting news….
INSURANCE APPROVED OF MY SURGERY 100%
This means that not only do I not have to worry about the costs of surgery, but I was also able to schedule my surgery. My date of surgery is….*drum roll please*…….
NOVEMBER 17, 2014.
Yes, you read that right. I’m going under the knife in as little as 10 days.
I am now going to work to prepare for my surgery. I’ve been going crazy making sure I stay healthy. I have been washing my hands to kill germs so often that they permanently smell of soap and have become red and dried out from constant washing. I have also been eating Airborne tablets like candy. Hooray for Vitamin C! Larry and I were talking about going to a Tenth Avenue North show this weekend but I told him I didn’t think it would be a good idea to be around so many people in a small environment. Instead I told him to surprise me with a fun, romantic weekend especially since after my surgery I won’t have hearing in my implanted ear and won’t want to do much of anything for a month until I am healed and activated. We’ll see what he comes up with.😉
Everything with my surgery has been and is continuing to happen so quickly. I am so excited about it all! I can’t wait to open this chapter of my life and experience more of the hearing world!