Me with my mother, sisters, and cousins for Three Birthday Weekend in Charleston. Note the tiaras.
In case I got cold feet, the Girl’s Trip to Charleston with my female relatives served to remind me of the profound nature of my hearing impairment and how lucky I was to have an opportunity to act. Every group conversation in every noisy restaurant where I could not keep up served to reaffirm my appointment in the operating room.
I would sit at the table with a smile on my face, looking engaged enough to be involved but not so engaged that someone addressed a question or remark my way. I have enough energy to strain for about one hour before I am exhausted and ready to quit asking people to repeat themselves and stop trying to understand my way into a group conversation. But my trouble is not limited to noisy restaurants and groups; I can no longer understand one person in a quiet room without reading lips.
The alternative is to stay home. And as I reach the limits of my ability to participate in the hearing world I increasingly understand why many choose that option. My husband, friends, and family are very generous in accommodating me but there is a point where it just becomes a waste of energy to try. But I don’t want to stay home.
On the day before surgery, my husband asked me if I was nervous. I said I was not.
The BEFORE picture.
I reached the point where I was ready to commit to a cochlear implant and called to schedule my surgery. But like Dorothy arriving in The Emerald City to ask for a new ear, it wasn’t that easy. Before a surgery date could even be discussed with The Great And Powerful Oz I would have to fetch a few broomsticks.
I exaggerate. Various doctors and technicians were required to examine and certify me cochlear implant-ready before proceeding. Following is the list of people and procedures that signed off on me:
- Audiologist to make sure I’m REALLY deaf
- Auditory-Verbal Therapist for a preview of what’s to come
- Psychotherapist to make sure my spirit is ready
- Internist to make sure my body is ready
- Brain MRI–last chance for an MRI before magnet installed
- Chest X-ray: just checking…
- VNG Test: videonsytagmography where cool and warm air was blown into my ear while I counted back from 100. (I passed)
- And if that wasn’t enough, I was sent to the pharmacy for a pneumonia/shingles vaccination.
When I arrived for my pre-op appointment with Dr. Peters, I felt the confidence of one who has accomplished a demanding mission, actually showing up with the infamous broomstick. But I’m totally on board. If there is any reason I should not have a device implanted in my skull, I would rather know before the drilling occurs.