Posts Tagged ‘God’

Surgery Revision has arrived

So today, at around 2pm, I had my surgery revision for my cochlear implant. As I sit here, I’m simply astounded by the fact that I am actually sitting here, in not-so-much pain, writing about it all.

If you haven’t read about my last surgery, you might not know how difficult the initial surgery is for a cochlear implant recipient. When I think about whether or not I will eventually chose to have a second implant (after I have the life-altering experience from hearing from this first one), I really can’t say whether or not I’d want to go through that all over again. Talk about being incapacitated for a solid week. It was serious stuff.

But I’m so happy to say that this revision surgery was completely different. Today, my doctor was able to make about a 2″ incision and just move the implant a little higher up my scalp. Because the surgery was so minimally invasive, I have full neck mobility and zero problems with my balance/equilibrium. My neck is sore, and I certainly feel pain from the incision, but it’s nothing like the first surgery, when I was unable to look left or right without moving my entire body, or was in tears the first time I had to bend over to brush my teeth. I’m one happy camper as far as recovery goes.

But. There’s some not-so-great news too. I’ve chosen to focus on the positive, because it really is good, but I also feel the need to be transparent here.

When my husband and I got to the hospital, signed all the necessary paperwork, and I changed and was set up in a pre-op bed, both doctors came and talked to me for a few minutes to let me know what was gonna go down in the OR. (I’ve obviously watched too much Grey’s Anatomy if I’m saying OR instead of Operating Room). After talking/meeting with the Anesthesiologist for a few minutes, my ENT came to discuss his end of the deal. He told us that he was going to attempt to make as small an incision as possible and just move the implant up a bit. My husband asked if the implant would be tested after that, and that’s where things get a little sketchy.

After my first surgery in September, and my implant activation failed, my doctor had told us that a representative from Cochlear would be present during my surgery to test the implant. But (cue dirge-like music) my implant was not tested during surgery. When we had the chance to talk to my doc before surgery, my husband asked if the implant would be tested, and my doc said it would not. According to the doc, he has never had an implant not work properly. Granted, it would be a serious lawsuit for Cochlear if a patient received a non-working implant, but wouldn’t you want to check during surgery, just in case?

I certainly could have chosen to forgo the surgery without the Cochlear rep, but I figured the odds are greater that the implant was just placed wrong than the implant failing to work right. I mean, it’s like I’ve said before, a magnet can’t malfunction and I highly doubt that Cochlear forgot to put the magnet in the implant. So we’re out on a limb here, believing that the implant will truly work like it’s created to do. And it better!

There’s one last little tidbit of bad news. Ok, maybe “bad news” is stretching it a bit. Or maybe I’m just a little materialistic. Or maybe not.

Just before wheeling me in to surgery, the operating nurse (sorry I haven’t been paying enough attention to Grey’s Anatomy for the proper name here) came to introduce herself and take me to the OR. One look at her and I remembered her. Hair net, mouth-cover-up-thing and all, I completely recognized her as the OR nurse from the last time. Don’t get me wrong, she’s nice and all. Until she wields her razor!

I’m pretty sure my husband recognized her too, because when she asked if we had questions before she carted me off, my husband asked, nicely of course, if she could do her best to not shave more of my hair than necessary. Because really, let’s get real here, it’s not necessary to shave the portion of my hair in front of my ear. There’s not a way to tell yet how much was shaved yet, however, since my head is all wrapped up. And I do suppose that even if I was shaved bald (which I wasn’t), I’ll be happy to hear my daughter for the first time, regardless. But here’s to hoping that I have enough hair left for a ponytail!

All in all, I’m happy with the outcome today. I’m fortunate that surgery went so well, was actually less than an hour surgery-wise, and I know my future will be better because of it. I’m very optimistic that even without the Cochlear rep, this surgery will fix the problem that I had with activation. I’m already anticipating being able to hear so many sounds!
I’m not sure when my activation date is, but I certainly plan on writing about all my escapades as a hearing individual. I’m off to go recuperate (as in take some more pain meds and stick on a feel-good movie), but I will check back in with my activation date soon. And you can bet that I’ll be writing about all those new sounds I hear when that comes around!

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Fall Festival Fun

I love fall.

There’s just something about the weather getting cooler, the leaves changing, and the approach of Thanksgiving that will lift a weight off one’s shoulders from a too busy schedule, and it reminds us to slow down. It reminds us to remember the moments that pass us, take mental pictures of events that fly by too fast, and to sit back and enjoy this life that we have, despite obstacles it may contain.

My husband and I have never been big Halloween fans. Kinda like the creepy incident the other day, we’ve always made a point to refrain from celebrating such a dark day. We were both raised by Christian parents, but even if we hadn’t, I wonder if I’d feel the same way about the 31st. I do not do well with scary movies (call me a wuss and I’ll probably agree), and I find all the hanging skeletons, headless bodies, and bloody cauldron decorations are more than slightly questionable. It just creeps me out.

And although I refrain from placing any type of Halloween decor outside or in, I do think that the idea behind the children’s side of Halloween is a fun thing. Dressing up as a favorite character, getting a bucket full of candy, what’s not to like about that? My husband and I have made a few unspoken rules about Halloween for our kids because I do want them to have fun in life, but I certainly do not want to entertain the idea that all the creepy stuff is a good thing.

So while we may not take our kids door to door to trick-or-treat, and I won’t ever dress my kids as a skeleton or witch, I will let them enjoy being a kiddo by dressing up as a fun character and attending a parent-approved local fall festival. And candy. Can’t forget that we’re getting candy.

Here are our kiddos all dressed up.

Cole-Addison costumes

And yes, I do realize that I said I wouldn’t dress my child as a witch. And yes, I also now realize that a pirate is probably just as bad, since all they do is steal things from other people. Who was it that said that hindsight is 20/20? Whoever is was, he’s probably right.

cole-pirate

On another note, did anyone every have makeup on when they dressed in a pirate costume as a kid? I’m pretty sure it’s mandatory now. My son’s fingernails were painted black too. Pure genius I tell you! Just don’t tell my husband, because he was under the assumption that pirates don’t paint their nails. I had to enlighten him.

In all seriousness, my children came home with a huge bucketful of candy each and I’m fairly certain that I have only a few hairs left on my head after all the candy eating and wildness going on around here in the form of two small children. So while you may enjoy this time of year, please remember to portion the candy. You’ll thank me.

Update: New surgery date and a wisecracking husband

This Halloween stuff is creeping me out lately. Is it just me?

Yesterday I took my daughter to Radio Shack to pick up a new power cord for my mini-dvd player. Oops, I mean it’s my children’s dvd player. My mom bought it for them for Christmas one year, so of course it belongs to them, despite the fact that I borrow it when they’ve hijacked my big flat screen in our living room. One must survive.

After buying the power cord for our mini-dvd player, we jump in the car and I’m slowly backing out, careful of the car to my left, when I see it. Dangling out of the back of the car’s closed trunk is a black pant leg and a very bloody foot. Eww!!

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that for a teeny-tiny-minuscule second, I debated what I should do. Call the cops? Wait. No idiot would kill someone and leave a foot dangling out the back. Besides. It’s not like a trunk could close on a bone like that anyway. If you tried slamming a trunk on a leg, the trunk lid would probably just pop back up. You’d have to slam seriously hard to actually break through a bone. Not that I thought about any of that. I of course just realized it was Halloween props, not rationalized why it was fake. Seriously.

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

We arrive at the office, my husband, my mom, and I, to sit down and wait a while. Because we just love to do that. Not. We waited for over an hour past my appointment time before I was finally called for my CT scan. This scan turns out to be just as creepy as the foot. It’s true! You sit in a chair with your chin placed in a chin-holder-thing (sorry I’m no doctor) and have to be as absolutely still as possible. On top of that you have to keep your eyes closed. But you can feel the little scanning-pad-thing that moves around your head as it gets really close to you. It’s kinda like when you know someone is watching you, but you don’t turn and look. Yeah, creepy.

So I finish the scan and get to go sit in an exam room to…. what? Wait on the doctor. That’s right, you read it here first. We sit in the room for about another thirty minutes or so and eventually see my ENT. What I really don’t like most is that there is no clear definitive answer for what the problem is. While the CT scan did show that the implant hasn’t moved at all, my ENT only has theories.

The first theory is something that is pretty rare. It’s very possible that I have a thicker scalp near my neck than he originally thought when he placed the implant where he did. To fix this, there are two options. [Weak stomached individuals may want to skip the next few sentences] The first is that he can shave the scalp a little to thin it out in the area where my implant is. It’s risky in the fact that if you shave is too thin, the implant can tear through, and if that happened, it would have to be completely removed. The other option is that he can move the implant up a little and hope that my scalp is a little thinner as he moves it higher. It still has to be cautiously done so that he doesn’t move it to an area where my scalp is too thin. Either way, he’s confident that he can fix that problem (if that is the problem), since he has seen this once before. I won’t mention that my scalp was compared to a man who had folds of skin at the nape of his neck. Nor will I mention that my husband said that this gives him medical proof that I am thick-headed. I’ll keep those details to myself, thank you very much.

The other scenario, that I previously mentioned, is the implant could be faulty. My ENT doesn’t think this is the case, but I’m actually glad that he’s preparing for it just in case. On the day of my next surgery, a representative from Cochlear will be present during my surgery to test my implant. If it proves to be defective, he will also have a backup implant and my implant will be replaced. I’m certainly praying, believing, and hoping that this is not the case, but I also think it’s good to be prepared to fix the issue, in any possible way, during one surgery.

It kinda stinks that “the backup plan” wasn’t there during my first surgery, but this is such a very rare occurrence that it’s not typically required. I’ve never really been one to break the mold, so it’s a little ironic to me to think that it’s now that I do so. But that’s ok, because I know everything is going to go great this next time around.

My new surgery date is set for Monday, November 1st. Not far away, to be sure. My activation date will be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and thank God for that! Literally.

So while I’m certainly not looking forward to the anesthesia again, I’m very thankful that my goal, hearing during the holidays, is still tangible. We can do this peoples!

Another day of gray

When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt it. My body was a million pounds heavier, my eyes seemed too many days sleep deprived, and yet I knew it was all a lie. When depression hits, I’ve felt it’s burden so many times that I knew what I had to do.

I’ve heard people talk about depression before, whether from passing conversation or from a platform, and I sometimes wonder if half those people have actually experienced it in it’s unadulterated form. They say that being depressed is a choice that is made. It’s assumed that I can just snap my mind out of it by just making the choice to be happy. And I laugh! Oh how I laugh inside when people say that.

I experienced depression for years before I actually even realized what it was. It’s kind of weird that I didn’t realize what it was, but it’s true. I’d be overcome by this intense sadness, but I just didn’t really think about why or where it came from. I just bore it. Often I had a crummy mood, snapped at my husband or children or whoever was nearest, and never even thought about what was happening. But in a passing comment my husband he told me that when he came home from work, he never knew what mood I’d be in or if I’d be crying or not. Like any wife who’s scorned at, I probably came up with some sort of snarky response, but after I’d thought about what he said, I realized he was right. And like any wife, I did not particularly like that he was right. Who likes to be wrong?

But I decided to change. I’d felt our marriage had lost a lot of luster, but it never really occurred to me that I was the one with the problem. In my own mind, my husband was at fault because he didn’t understand all the turmoil that I went through, day after day. But he was right in the fact that I wasn’t controlling my emotions, but rather I was letting the emotions control me, leading me inevitably toward a path of constant depression.

So I tried to change. I attempted to stop being so snippy all the time, but more than anything I tried to be happy. I put on a brave front and created an attitude of happiness for my husband and children, sweeping all the unhappy feelings and sadness under a rug. But the thing is that it was still there. No matter how much you sweep under a rug, it’s never really gone. I did change a lot, and I created a much nicer, happier person, but it’s just impossible for me to be happy all of the time. Who ever is?

What my husband helped realize, more than anything, was what I was dealing with. It became a tangible, recognizable object that I gradually began seeing in myself. And over time, I’ve learned what the symptoms are, how to predict it, and how to pull out of it. I guess in theory that the “getting out of it” is a choice, but it’s much more than just a choice to be happy.

On days like yesterday, when I see that some situation that I’ve been in has brought depression with it, I’m very very proactive. I’ve always felt that I can’t really choose to be happy, but I can surround myself with happy people, places that bring joy, and before long I know I that it will all rub off on me. Filling my day with a flutter of activity helps keep my mind off the weight that threatens to drown me, and before long (usually about 24 hours) I’ve been pulled to the surface.

When I woke up yesterday morning and felt the oncoming depression, I made quick plans for the day. My son’s favorite thing to do at this time of year is to go to a pumpkin patch. And it just so happens that about an hour away, we have a patch that has free hay rides, hay mazes, horses and pigs for petting, things to climb on, and lots of photo opportunities.

cole-2000 addison-2000

When I’m around these two, I can’t help but find joy in the color they bring to my life. I love my family, and I thank God every day for all these that He has brought to my life. You may not ever feel the depression that deafness or a chronic illness might bring, but if you feel a little blue, like life is passing you by, don’t forget all those around you that love you. They can bring life and happiness to a dreary day, and don’t forget give God a wink, because it’s likely that He placed them beside you.

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.

10 years and counting

Ten years ago today at two o’clock in the afternoon I said, “I will.”

No matter how many premarital classes you take, however many books you read, or even videos you watch on the subject, you will never in a lifetime be prepared for a lifetime of marriage. It takes so much more than just preparing oneself for the event.

I have chosen every day when I wake up in the morning to love my husband. It’s not a gushy lovey-dovey feeling that I feel, but a decision that I make each day. We’ve both hit our 30’s and, let’s face it, neither of us are getting any younger (or any skinnier). So it’s not about appearances either. It’s a decision.

And I today is a day that I take time to remember why I still make the decision that I made so many years ago. I look back at the ten years behind us and I wonder if they’re the very hardest we’ll face. I remember asking my husband a few weeks before our wedding if he was sure about us. Was he prepared to marry someone who might be hearing impaired?

And he was absolute. Yes.

I see these last ten years in my head. There’s been a gradual path I had taken toward depression and isolation, with so much of it being unintended and even unknowing. I can’t count the times I’ve taken things out on him and not even realized I was lashing out in pain and anger toward something I barely recognized was happening to me. But he stuck.

From day one to day three thousand six hundred fifty two, he’s been absolute in his willingness to work though all this mess of what my life was for so long. He held me when I cried, watched the kids when I needed a soak in the tub, and listened when I tried to verbally make sense of things. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically he’s done everything in his power to be understanding of what I’ve faced when no one should have to face it.

To my husband- I love you more today that I did ten years ago. I love you for the boy I married, but much more for the man you’ve become. I can’t thank you enough for all the times you have understood me and been here for me when I needed you most. I am so excited about what the next ten years will hold for us, and I look forward to every one of your hilarious antics, your crazy wisecracks, and just you being you.

This time around I plan to hear every word of it.

Came to My Rescue

If there’s ever a song that I feel describes my life, it would be this one.

As I entered surgery this morning, I definitely thank my husband and my mom for pushing DARS to finally schedule this, but more than that I know that God had his hand in this from the very beginning.

My whole life was turned upside down from the day I realized I was losing my hearing as a teenager. I remember prayer after prayer from that day on, consumed with my quest for healing. Or for an answer. My spiritual life has been tested, beyond limits I thought possible, but with as much as I’ve seen in my life, I could never question the actual existence if God.
I feel akin to a man named Job from the Old Testament. He had everything imaginable in life, only to have it vanish in an instant. He was broken, but never doubtful of God. Those all around him offered explanations of why he had lost so much, whether from sinning, from his own arrogance, pride, or so many other reasons, yet Job denied them all. He had looked at his life and knew that although he might have not been perfect, he had walked according to those laws God had commanded and could not, for his life, understand why so much had been taken from him.

And after Job questioned God, God answered. He asked Job if Job was there when the world was created, if Job had done the incredible things that God had, and if Job understood the things that God did. In a response, so adequately put, Job answered God this, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

And I realize that this is me. I had prayed for so long for my answer, wondering why all this happened, only to realize that it’s something I cannot understand. But the great thing is that God remembered my prayers and He came to my rescue when I needed Him most.

My husband got me an ipod for my 30th birthday today and although my schedule may be busy hearing so many new things on the day that my processor is activated, I know without fail that this song will be first on my playlist, and the first song I will hear again. Somehow thank you just doesn’t seem adequate to describe my appreciation to Him who rescued me.

Falling on my knees in worship
Giving all I am to seek Your face
Lord all I am is Yours

My whole life
I place in Your hands
God of Mercy
Humbled I bow down
In Your presence at Your throne

I called You answered
And You came to my rescue and I
I wanna be where You are

~Hillsong United

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