First attempt at Cochlear implant activation. Fail.

I don’t even know where to begin.

I think all of us, at some point, envision worst case scenarios. I can’t imagine losing a spouse or a child, but I take steps to prepare myself for such things. You know what I mean. We take out a life insurance policy for a spouse so that either of us are covered financially if something happens to one of us. We watch our kids closely around dangerous objects or in dangerous places, always cautious that a worst case scenario never happens.

But sometimes it does.

Today was such a big day for me. At nearly five weeks post-op, I went into my doctor’s office to have my Cochlear implant activated so that I can finally hear again. My dad and my sister have already received a Cochlear implant, and they hear so well that an average person probably wouldn’t know that they even had a hearing problem. They were with me today, in full support, along with my mom, my brother, and my husband. There were so many of us that we would hardly fit in the little bitty room where they had my new processor (the external hearing-aid-like thing that connects magnetically to the implant under the skin on my head) hooked up to a computer that will activate both the implant and processor. (view how it works here)

The technician handed me the processor, and helped me put the upper portion around my ear and attempted to place the lower portion, the magnet, lower down on my head. Ideally, the magnet that’s hooked to the processor will connect with the magnet that’s in my implant (which is under the skin). The processor magnet wouldn’t connect the side of my head where the implant magnet was underneath, but I really didn’t think much about it. On operation day, my hair was shaved in the area where the implant was placed, but it’s grown back considerably fast. So my thoughts were that it’s grown back so fast that they might have to cut it a little shorter in the area where the magnets need to connect.

The technician assured me that my hair probably wasn’t an issue and unscrewed the magnet attached to the processor and screwed in a stronger magnet. Depending on hair type and length (of if you even have any) a different magnet might be used. She started with a type four magnet, but quickly realized that she needed a five. She dug around through drawers, couldn’t find one, and paged another technician to help her. Between the two of them they realized that they didn’t have a five, but fortunately my sister had one on her processor. After switching out the magnets they found that even the five wasn’t strong enough.

Even though they could tell that the five wasn’t strong enough, they tried over and over to get the two magnets to connect. They found some scissors and cut my hair shorter where it had grown back, and kept trying to no avail. Eventually one of the technicians even got on the phone with the implant manufacturer to see if there was anything else to do to get them to connect. But we were grasping at straws.

The final suggestion was that my doctor might have to prescribe a stronger magnet. The technicians dug through the magnets once more just to be sure. They finally found a different processor with a type six magnet, although the processor was for a different type of implant. They tried the processor’s magnet on my implant, only to see if the magnet would connect, and it didn’t.

When they switched the first set of magnets, I internally had to check myself from getting emotional. I told myself that this was just something that happens, no big deal. But as the minutes ticked by and by the time the last magnet switch was made, I knew the problem wasn’t the type of magnet. There was something bigger that was wrong and the last attempt would inevitably fail. And when they tried to place that magnet on my head, the type six, and I felt it fall off, my thin hold on my emotions snapped. It was just impossible for me to contemplate returning home in the same condition I left. I couldn’t bare it.

I watched my mom slowly explain to me what the technicians had said would need to happen, all while tears streamed down my face. She explained to me that I would have to return on Wednesday, when my doctor will be in the office again, and undergo a CT scan to see if the implant has slipped from position or was put in backward. Worst case scenario, the implant is faulty and will have to be completely replaced.

I don’t really know what to hope for, or even what to pray for. I want to believe that the implant has simply just slipped position, but even with that, it means that I will have to undergo another surgery to put the implant back in place. So my thoughts and prayers are not even among these.

I pray today that whatever I face before me, God will give me the strength to get through it. At my doctor’s office, I stepped out of the room to try and gather my emotions, with my husband quickly at my side. The only words I could get from my mouth were that I just want to hear my children. I don’t care about anything else. Not the little unimportant things like music or laughter or conversation. I want to hear my children tell me about their day, about their favorite toy, and I want to hear their giggles of joy.

Beyond that? I want to be able to lay in bed at night and hear my husband tell me about his day. I remember after we were first married, it was the time I treasured most. It’s when all the television, dinner, phone conversations, and everything else have died with the day, and the quiet moments in intimate conversation about life begin. We shared goals and hopes and dreams, or even just things throughout the day that we loved or hated. More often than not, we acted like teenagers as we laughed at people or places, and I can’t begin to describe how I miss that.

So whatever happens beyond today, my thoughts remain focused on the goal ahead. One day soon I will hear. And whatever I have to do after Wednesday to get there, even another surgery, I know I will. And I will thank God every day for giving me the confidence and endurance to do it.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by suenndy on October 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    You are in my Prayers and soon you will hear your children’s laughter.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Amy on October 14, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Love you and will be thinking about you this week.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Carol Thurman on October 15, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Angela,

    My prayers are with you…the victory is already won!!!!!

    Reply

  4. […] On to more relevant facts. I had the appointment today with my ENT to figure out why my implant is having difficulties. […]

    Reply

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