I was asleep but the operating room probably looked something like this
I slept through the entire procedure so I don’t have anything to report about my surgery. However, I can tell you what the psychotherapist who had observed Dr. Peters in surgery told me in my pre-op interview:
In her opinion, cochlear implant surgery is like dental surgery in that there is not much blood involved and the surgical instruments resemble tools a dentist uses. The doctor cleans the area, makes an incision behind the ear, drills through the skull to thread the electrodes into the cochlea, creates a niche in the skull above the ear to place the implant, and closes the incision.
The psychotherapist said that, having observed the procedure, she would never be afraid to have a cochlear implant herself, should the need arise. Even though I was asleep while it happened to me, I can agree that there is nothing to be afraid of.
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.