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Challenges Cochlear Implant Surgery

Slow healing

“Rather than gold-plating grit and trying to make failure fashionable, we’d be better off learning how to recognize the beauty in truth and tenacity.”

Brene Brown, Rising Strong

There is nothing fashionable about spitting stitches. Yes, this is actually something that can happen after any surgery. My body “spit out” the sutures behind my ear rather than let them dissolve. This has been painful, relentless, and just gross. It keeps the incision from fully healing and, at times, has looked like a dreaded infection.

To say this has caused anxiety is an understatement. When it first happened, my worst-case scenario thoughts let my mind run wild. However, a few weeks after surgery, consultations with both my surgeon and a family friend helped explain this phenomenon and ease my worries slightly. This unexpected event seems to have slowed. However, because of it, I had to creatively modify my external CI technology.

Photo credit to Jimmy

With the help of my audiologist and using a processor clip, I’ve configured a way to wear my processor in my hair. I have clipped it on my left side, wound the cord around my bun, and then connected the magnetic head piece on my right. The longer cord was intended to clip to my shirt, but I found this constricted my movement. In this configuration, the microphone is on my headpiece. Not perfect, but it’s working. Perhaps even fashionable? I refer to this style as my electronic hair accessory look.

Despite Mom having CI surgery twice, the recovery has surprised me. There was much pre-surgery chatter about how different the surgery is now verses 20 and 12 years ago, significantly downplaying the recovery to a small incision and moderate headache. While I hope this is true for most, it was not my experience.

Looking back at Mom’s story, it was not her reality either, though in our 104 pages of writing, we devoted only five sentences to surgery recovery.

As the medicine wore off, the pain increased. I felt dizzy, progressively more nauseas, and sudden movement strained my stitches. My jaw hurt and I heard an uncontrollable and inexplicable roaring in my ears. The worst part—I was lonely. I missed my children and Mike, who were back in Connecticut, awaiting my homecoming.

It’s brief; however, it’s remarkable how these sentences capture much of my experience as well. (More on dizziness and roaring sound soon.) Just as Mom missed us, I missed my crew too. Though I think they would tell you it was one of the best weeks of their lives.

Between trips to both grandparents’ homes and nonstop fun with Auntie B and Uncle Jonny, my support system kept the kids busy and their minds off their my healing. Auntie B even celebrated her birthday with us and stood in for me at the first grade mother’s day tea while wearing a hot pink scrunchie of Addie’s choice. Highly fashionable!

I am endlessly grateful for their support throughout my healing.

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