I met a friend of mine for lunch yesterday. She has a daughter a little older than Ava, and a two year old, Jillian, who has cochlear implants. We were meeting to let the kids hang out and to discuss last minute surgery stuff. My friend, whose name is Andrea, is someone I met before Seth was even officially diagnosed as deaf. She was definitely one of those people that God literally threw into my path and let me trip over on this journey. Just after we met we spent a weekend together at a conference, and had some great instant bonding. So we're pretty close.
We were discussing little stuff, like what kind of clothes to pack for Seth, what he'll look like after surgery, etc. Then she asked me if I'd ever felt Jillian's head.
Well, no. That was something I'd been avoiding. All the surgeon's say that they place the implant as close to flush with the skull as possible to avoid the implant sticking up past the skull. I had not yet been brave enough to feel the heads of the CI kids I know. Kind of like how after I had my first baby, I refused to touch or look at my own stomach for days because the squishy feeling of it wigged me right out.
Andrea laughed at me and whipped Jillian's implants right off and said "Feel them! You've GOT to feel them." So I did, and while it wasn't terrible, you could definitely feel the implants in there.I can only imagine what Seth's fair, bald head is going to look like. He's always had such a nice round head...this is going to be hard to get used to. I had kind of a reaction to the bumps, and Andrea said "I know. Sometimes when I go to bed I start to watch the surgery online, and I haven't been able to make it all the way through yet." She advised that I definitely wait to watch the surgery with all it's gory details until after Seth is done with this surgery. "Oh yeah!" I enthused. "There's no way I'm watching that now...it would just freak me out."
I think we all know where this is going.
This evening, I locked my older kids outside, told them to jump themselves sick on the trampoline and not to bother me (Yes, I did make them wear clothes. I know you're wondering). Seth and I sat down in front of the laptop and prepared to dive in. I thought about making popcorn, but thought that might be pushing it. Like a kid who can't help telling on themselves when they do something they shouldn't do, I texted Andrea.
Watching it. The whole thing. I'm doing it. Don't try and stop me. (Please stop me.)
Alas, she didn't stop me, and Seth and I hit play on the video of a cochlear implant surgery done by the same surgeon who will be doing Seth's surgery, Dr. Loren Bartels (You should watch it if you have a spare hour, then you can talk to me about it. We can have a club).
The first couple of minutes were tough, as they made the first incision and started digging around. But the further they got into everything, the less I recognized anything, and it got easier to watch. There's a lot of drilling, and suctioning, and a lot of talk of avoiding this nerve and making a hole between these two very important bones. It looks vaguely similar to playing Operation, although instead of a buzzer going off if you mess up, the patient loses the ability to control their own facial expression. Yeah! Nothing like a little pressure to get your juices flowing!
The surgeon talked through the entire surgery, giving a running commentary of various parts of it. It made me wonder if he only does that when the surgery is being taped, or if that's just one of the things that keeps him on task, like when I try to make myself remember a phone number by repeating the last four digits over and over.
After they drill a "bed" for the implant (pictured above with a nickel so you can have an idea of size), they stick a little tube that has the tail of the implant in it in the hole the surgeon drilled, and wind the electrodes (placed in the tail you see above) through the cochlea in a spiral. Then, it's pretty much over. They fill the hole that was drilled in the inner ear with tissue, sew everything up, and send them on their way. The patient goes home, heals for four weeks, then comes back to get activated, receive their outer processor, and hear for the first time.
I made it through the entire thing. Seth was unmoved...he was more interested in playing with an empty Gatorade bottle than paying attention to the surgery. I tried to tell him that he was going to be sorry he didn't pay attention, like he couldn't hear me or something. The surgery didn't bother me too much...I feel a little better knowing what's going to be happening on Thursday. I was picturing it being worse, although to be honest it does all look pretty bad.
We'll see if I'm still feeling so blase about this on Thursday. I'm thinking no.
18 hours ago