Friday, August 24, 2012

The miracle I am about to receive......

Today was my day off work. As I was going about my normal Friday routine of going to the grocery and catching up on laundry with only myself and my thoughts, the realization set in that I am only 13 days away from my surgery date. Like, I knew it all along that it was getting close but with the kids home for the summer I really didn't have time to think about it. They kept me busy. But today was my first day off alone without the kids since they started back to school last week. This morning it was like, BAM, I am having a life changing event happen in 13 days. I thought about it all day. The excitement is building up now. I was thinking to myself, how I started this process in January....almost 8 months ago. At the time, I thought September would take forever to get here. And now here it is, less than two weeks away. It went by so quickly and I am so thankful for my busy family life and "living" in each made the wait all worthwhile.  I've been busy the last two weeks getting things done that I needed to have done before my surgery. My first priority was getting my right hearing aid retuned so that I could hear better. I had lost some hearing from my prior surgery and infection last year. Originally, I thought I would have to live with it but I was happy when my audiologist said she could retune my hearing aid to make up for my additional loss. She also decided that I would benefit better from a full ear mold rather than the partial one I had to trap the sound in better. So I had new impressions made. I went back last week to pick it up and had my final retuning done. Oh, so much better!! I feel like I hear as well as I did prior to my infection. This makes me feel so much better and more comfortable with the fact that I won't be able to hear for three weeks in the other ear while I am healing. My hearing is SO important to me so I am thankful my hearing aid was able to be fixed before the surgery. I also had my pneumovax vaccine done. It was required by my ent doctor before my surgery. Last but not least important, was ordering the color of my sound processor and choosing three accessories. I chose sand color for my processor to match my skin color. There were so many accessories to choose from. I chose two rechargable batteries on top of the two I will receive. Apparently, the batteries only stay charged for 2-3 days so that was very important to me to have a good battery supply on hand! The other accessory that I am really excited about is an audio cable. I will be able to connect my processor to an ipod to listen to music! How cool is that? Many people have asked me how a cochlear implant really works and thought I would share with you so that there may be a better understanding. First, my doctor will shave a small section of my hair behind my ear. He will make an incision behind the ear to allow access to the cochlea. There are two parts to the cochlear implant. One is internal, which is the implant itself. The other is external, which is a sound processor. The implant consists of a self curling electrode array designed to curve naturally inside the cochlea which will stimulate the hearing nerve. This array will have 22 electrodes to provide optimal sound clarity. This surgery will last up to 3 hours and it will be outpatient. I will have a healing time of three weeks before they put the sound processor on and "turn my ear on". My activation date is on September 28th. I also want to describe best as I can how natural hearing works compared to my hearing aid and the implant. With natural hearing, sounds enter the ear canal and travel to the eardrum. These sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate which send the bones in the middle ear into motion. This motion is converted into electrical impulses by tiny hair cells inside the cochlea. These impulses are sent to the brain where they are perceived by the listener as sound. With my hearing aid, the microphone in the aid picks up the sound and sends it to the amplifier where it makes it louder. My hair cells inside my cochlea do not work as well (if at all) as one with natural hearing so that's why I cannot distinguish the many pitches that one can hear. My hearing aid amplifies sounds to make them louder but that doesn't always make them clearer. With an implant, the external sound processor captures the sounds, then filters and processes the sounds. It translates the filtered sounds into digital information which is transmitted to the internal part of the implant. This in turn converts it into elecrical electrical signals and sends them to the elecrodes inside the cochlea. These electrical signals stimulate the hearing nerve and bypasses the damaged hair cells  (which causes hearing loss) and allows the brain to perceive sound. It is amazing to learn how intricate and complex this system is. I have waited years for this miracle and I am so thankful to be able to receive this gift in my lifetime!

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