Monday, May 5, 2014

T-minus Two Weeks and Counting



    Last week, my wife, Patti, and I visited my Otologist (ear surgeon), Dr. Berenholz, for the last time before my surgery.  We are now armed with pre-surgery (and post-surgery) instructions, as well as prescriptions that must be filled.  The date has been set and we are “Go” for launch in two weeks.  I announced my surgery date to the church, informed my District Superintendent, and have asked a retired pastor to fill the pulpit for me on the Sunday after surgery.  My wife will go with me on surgery day and my Mom has insisted on going along so that Patti doesn’t have to wait alone for the two and a half hour surgery.   Everything is ready.

Except me.

    Someone asked me today if I am getting excited about the surgery and that stumped for a few seconds.  Honestly, I think I am well past excited and am moving toward nervousness.  And that, in itself is a little odd for me.  The only other time I have had surgery was for a herniated disc in my back twenty odd years ago.  Then, folks asked if I was worried that I might be paralyzed, but I wasn’t.  I don’t recall ever feeling nervous.  Of course, at the time, what I was feeling was pain, and I was looking forward to waking up without pain.

    My hearing loss doesn’t cause pain but it is a struggle.  I am glad that I have a chance to hear better but my joy is tempered by knowing that this surgery will not be like the last.  The last time, I woke up and knew the pain was gone.  This time I know that won’t happen.  I won’t wake up with hearing.  Three or four weeks later, when they finally turn the Med-El implant on, I still won’t have hearing in the traditional sense.  By most accounts what I will have (if everything works), is an ability to hear “sounds” that have been described as “electronic” or “robotic.”  In our meeting, Dr. Berenholz reminded me that my ability to hear and understand will depend upon my persistence in doing my linguistic exercises after surgery so that my brain will learn how to hear with the implant.  Further, Dr. B. said that my ability to hear and understand should be considerably better in six months and will likely continue to improve for as much as two years. 

    But even though I have generally been able see the big picture and look forward to the rewards of long-term investments like higher education and retirement savings, this time it’s harder.  It seems more like looking forward to the finish line of a marathon.  It’s hard to be excited about the race.  The finish line sounds wonderful, but enduring the workouts and the long race itself doesn’t sound nearly as fun. 

It’s hard to be excited about surgery because the finish line is so far off.

What I’m feeling right now is less like excitement and more like anxiety.

Your prayers are appreciated. 

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Earlier posts about my hearing adventure:
 
Cyborg Adventure: Realistic Expectations         April 15, 2014
Managing Expectations                                     March 24, 2014

A New Cyborg Adventure                               March 12, 2014
Reflections on Going Deaf                                June 30, 2011

2 comments:

  1. Dear Pastor Partridge,

    I had surgery for a Med-El cochlear implant about a year and a half ago. I am doing quite well, overall, but there is definitely room for improvement. However, most of the improvement needs to come from the manufacturers. I am also a hearing researcher, and have written about my ideas for improvement in a paper that can be downloaded from the bioRxiv site, titled "An analysis of cochlear implant distortion from a user's perspective." While I express certain criticism, I am optimistic for the future. I am curious how you decided on Med-El, but I think it is a good choice. Feel free to write me at bdj@alum.mit.edu. Best of luck, Barry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Barry. I will email you with more details, but simply put, while I made some effort to research and compare "brands", the weight of the decision making process was in the reputation of the surgeon and the clinic where I will have the surgery. Virtually everyone who had an opinion, who had a friend "who knows", who had personal experience, who asked their hearing professional on my behalf, or my audiologist who made the initial professional recommendation, universally said that this clinic is the best in the region.

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