Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

Goodbye Hearing Aids. . .you have served me well. . .I would not have made it this far without you! But now it is time for me to say, "So long, farewell, Auf weidersehen*, good night. . .the sun has gone to bed and so must I. . . for tomorrow is a brand new day!" (lyrics taken mostly from the Sound of Music)

"Ode To My Hearing Aids" to be written soon. . .

*means an acknowledgment or expression of goodwill at parting.

Note: These will be donated to the Speech and Hearing Foundation so that someone else can benefit from them. My other hearings aids have already been donated to this non-profit organization and these are the last ones to go.

Thus begins a new chapter in my Dance with Sound. . .

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Four Weeks Later

Has it been four weeks already???. . .my hair is growing back and it isn't gray! The top of my ear is still puffy and numb but everything looks like it is healing well. (Marissa took this picture.) The time has gone by fast since my surgery and I'm feeling better every day. And hearing fine with just one CI. . .I can only imagine what two ears will sound like. . .

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Quick Update

Only four more days until my second implant is activated! I'm glad February is a short month, too. Actually, I've been too busy and too tired to think about it. Vertigo issues are still problematic and is affecting my sleep since it only happens when I lay down. I need my rest! If it doesn't go away soon, I'll mention it at my activation appointment on Thursday. Taste buds are still off, too, but only on certain foods (mostly sweets). My Dairy Queen vanilla ice cream cone actually tasted very salty last night. *sigh*

I have been exercising a little more. Marissa has joined me at the Wellness center and we've done Yoga and Pilates together. It's nice to have a partner, especially since it is my dear daughter! I can understand the leader during the class but need to look at her every now and then because I'm not sure what to do. But, I can understand her commands like "up, two, three, four," etc. Numbers are real easy. I do okay laying on the floor most of the time but some moves have caused the "merry-go-round" to start again so I either slow down or stop, close my eyes, and just lay there until it is time to do the next one. It is worse when I'm on my back looking up or moving towards my right side. I'm not too worried about this vertigo because it is gradually going away. I can move around during the day once I am upright.

I heard a new sound at work last Monday. It was the sound of the new heating/cooling system running that was installed the Friday before. The change was noticeable to me, especially since I didn't know when we were getting them. One of the new units is right above the accounting department. It is also warmer in the office now so I don't have to turn my heater on under my desk!

On Friday I made a long distance phone call to my cousin, Sharon, who lives in Indiana. I had been thinking about her and felt the need to call her. She was so surprised and happy to hear from me. I asked her if she was okay and she said, "Well, God must have told you to call me because I have had a hard time lately dealing with head lice." Poor thing. She was about ready to shave her daughter's head! We were able to talk for a little bit but the phone kept cutting out on us. She kept saying how great it was to hear from me. :-D Normally I would have sent her a card letting her know I had been thinking about her but now I can pick up the phone and reach out to someone. What a great feeling. My phone calls are still few and far between but I will answer at work or if I recognize the caller ID number.

Steve and I took a drive last night after dinner. He had a free one day car rental so we got a truck for the day. It was a HUGE black 2007 Nissan truck with only 500 miles on it (I forget the name of it already). We went house hunting (we'd like to downsize in the next year or so and are looking for a smaller place) and drove around looking at different neighborhoods. It was dark the whole time and not once did I need him to turn on the light so I could understand what he was saying. We can talk in the dark!

The birds are also singing their songs again, especially this morning after the rain. Maddie is sharing my chair with me as I write this and she is snoring! Silly dog.

Will write more later. I'm crashing in front of the TV with my knitting!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Today Was A Good Day

Wow. I actually felt good today. It will be three weeks tomorrow since I had my CI surgery. Today was President's Day and I had the day off. Took my car to the body shop this morning and dropped it off. They had a rental car ready for me, which is a Ford Explorer. It is huge but I like it. It is also quieter than my damaged car. There was so much wind noise and loose parts rattling after my car was wrecked that I couldn't hear the radio or anything. It will take at least eight working days to fix it. On the way home, I stopped at the Wellness Center to get some exercise. I rode the Life Cycle bike for 25 minutes and then swam in the pool for 30 minutes. I even got a massage. I should sleep like a baby tonight! Stopped at my favorite sandwich shop and picked up a salad to go, went to the Mall to get a few things and went home.

A funny thing happened today. . .while I was shopping at the mall, Steve sent me a text message on my phone and said that someone called him and they had Chris' cell phone. It must have fallen out of his pocket while he was eating lunch with his friend. I just "happened" to be right next door where his phone was so I walked over there and picked it up. When I got home, I asked Chris if he knew where his phone was. He said, "Yea, it's in the house." I said, "No, it isn't. I have it in my purse." He replied and said, "No, you don't! I just had it. You left the house before I did so there is no way you have my phone." I said, "Wanna bet? Here, hold my stuff. . . " and I handed him his phone from my purse! He didn't even know his phone was lost!

I still have vertigo issues but it is ONLY when I lay down or roll over. Two people from the CI Hear group emailed me personally and brought my attention to a condition called (BPPV) or "Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo." Both of these persons had BPPV after their CI surgeries and were treated with balance therapy. Within 6-8 weeks of the Epley Maneuver, they were fine. I looked it up and it describes my symptoms perfectly. Hopefully, it won't last long. If it still bothers me, I'll have to call Dr. Merwin to see if he thinks it is anything to be concerned about. I feel like it is getting better every day so I'm not too concerned. I thought that if I did some swimming, it would be good *balance* therapy with the water holding me up. I need to get back into exercising, anyway. I did okay doing the breaststroke, side stroke, and overhand stroke, but when I did the backstroke I got dizzy. I took it easy getting in the pool, too, instead of jumping in like I usually do.

The birds are back. I'm starting to hear them again. We have a songbird singing but Steve and I cannot figure out which one it is. We have all different kinds of birds at our bird feeder and I just love to watch them all. We have robins, chickadees, sparrows, titmice, house finches, goldfinches, cardinals, blue jays, a gorgeous downy woodpecker, and blue birds, just to name a few. That means spring isn't too far away even though we had snow on the ground yesterday.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Coincidence? Nothing Happens By Accident. . .

January 2005 - My friend, Susan, (I didn't know her then) receives her cochlear implant. . .

March 2005 - John, our audiologist, introduces us because he thought I might be interested in meeting someone with a cochlear implant. Susan shows me her processor, answers many questions and we become fast friends. I started my CI journey on April 1st after meeting her. . .

August 2005 - I receive my first CI. Susan was right there with my husband, Steve, and best friend, Dawn, when I came out of surgery. . .brings me chicken noodle soup the next day. . .

September 2005 - Susan starts nursing school to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Her implant gave her the confidence to take this BIG step. . .

September 2006 - Susan graduates from Nursing School and is valedictorian of her class. . .Says she needs a break and will start looking for a job after Christmas. . .is nervous because she hasn't worked in over 20 years. . .

January 2007 - I receive my second CI. Susan comes to visit me at the hospital, takes me out to lunch a week later. . .

Today (February 15, 2007). . . is my post op appointment at Dr. Merwin's office. . . (do you see where I'm going with this????)

Teresa, Dr. Merwin's nurse calls me from the waiting area and before she takes me to the exam room, she says, "there is someone here you might want to see". . .and takes me to another room. . .


Who would have thought that this wonderful person would see me through my CI journey and be at my last post-op appointment working as a nurse at the doctor's clinic where I go? Nothing happens by accident and I know God is smiling on us right now. . .He is the Master Planner and orchestrated this day a long time ago. This wasn't just a coincidence. He knew how my life (and Susan's) was going to play out long before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in His Book before I took my first breath of life. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16. My all-time favorite Bible verse is in Ecclesiastes 3 where it says that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heaven. . .with God all things are possible and everything happens for a reason. I believe it and love it when I see thing play out like they did today. . .Susan is such a dear friend and we feel like we've been friends forever. I am truly blessed to have a friend like her and to think that she would end up working for MY DOCTOR just blows me away! That was a God moment for me today. And that isn't all. . .Susan is right where she is supposed to be and will be able to help so many patients because of her experience with her hearing loss and her cochlear implant. She also just completed her application to be an advocate for Cochlear Corporation. I just had to share this with my readers today. . . Wherever you are in your life today, you are there for a purpose. God has you right where He wants you. Right now. Today. No matter what your circumstances are. And, He puts people in our paths for a reason at the right time. God says so and I believe it!

"Remember you go nowhere by accident,
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are,
God has put you there.
God has a purpose in you being there,
Christ, who is in you, has something
He wants to do through you where you are.
Believe this and go in God's strength,
Love and power."

written by R.C. Halverson
Former Chaplain, U.S. Senate

In other news, I had a good appointment with Dr. Merwin. When he walked in the room, he asked me if he did okay with my hair. (I had asked him to shave as little as possible this time. Since I'm his first adult bilateral CI patient, he probably has not had that request before!) My stitches and staples are out. Yay! They were starting to drive me nuts and Teresa had a hard time getting them out because the skin had started to heal over them. As she stood behind me clipping them out (I'm holding my hair up and looking down at my feet), I was able to carry on a conversation with her. No lipreading or looking at her as if it was a normal thing to do. :D Dr. Merwin also did a test to see why I was still have vertigo issues. It is only on my right side and should only be temporary (but we already knew that, right?) Next step is activation day on March 1st!

Since my appointment was in Knoxville, I met my sister and niece, Kathy & Elizabeth, for dinner tonight afterwards and we had a good visit. Then I indulged in some retail "therapy" and found a great bargain on a Ralph Lauren sweater that I had admired before Christmas but couldn't afford at the time. It was on clearance, marked down another 30%, and I had two $10 coupons. I saved 77% of the retail price! I love those kind of deals. :D I finished off the day at Starbucks with a chai tea latte. Life is good. Good night!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lemon Juice, Pepto Bismol, Tylenol, Mouthwash, & Hard Candy

Lemon Juice, Pepto Bismol, Tylenol, Mouthwash, & Hard Candy - what do they have in common? Nothing, except that they make me feel better. My sense of taste is still "off" and I'm down 6.5 pounds. I feel like I have a salt block in my mouth. I'm told this is only temporary. What a way to lose weight. Coffee and tea are my favorite drinks and I cannot enjoy them right now. So, I make hot lemonade instead. I put about a tablespoon of lemon juice in a mug with sweetener and pour hot water over it. I'm still struggling with nausea and vertigo but Pepto Bismol seems to keep that at bay. The Tylenol is taking care of the pain in my head and I'm ready for the staples and stitches to come out on Thursday. Hard candies help to get rid of the salty taste in my mouth.

Went to church on Sunday morning and back to work yesterday. Tonight was Bible Study. Am taking it slow and easy but I tire quickly. But, I'm glad to be out of the house!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Activation Date!

I called Dr. Merwin's office yesterday and set up a date for my second CI to be activated. It will be "turned on" on March 1st!

It's cold here this morning. I'm making hot apple cider in the crockpot. Coffee and tea don't taste right so maybe this will warm me up today.

Yesterday I drove for the first time since my surgery. I had to drive Steve's car because Chris had my car (his car is still in pieces in our garage). I went to the bank, the drugstore (to develop the rest of our Latvia pictures), and Kroger. The best part about Kroger is that we have a Starbucks in there so I had a chai tea while I shopped. Got some valentine stuff to give/mail to the kids. By the time I got home, I was worn out! But, Steve took me out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant for dinner. I crashed in my chair while we were watching TV and went to bed early.

You'll never believe what happened to my car yesterday. Waahhh! Chris had gone to Nashville to get his back and knees X-rayed at the VA hospital. He was on his way home and some guy in a truck rear ended him as he was making a left turn. Chris is fine but my car isn't. I'm just thankful that no one was hurt.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm Still Here

I've been taking it easy this week. I haven't felt like doing much of anything so I've pretty much stayed inside and spend most of my time in my chair. I'm still struggling with vertigo and balance issues. Every day I feel a little bit better but I know I am not 100% yet. The mornings are the worst and it takes me a little while to get my bearings after I get up. If I move too quickly the room will start to spin again. I don't remember it being this difficult when I had my first surgery. I still have some pain but do not have any more pain medicine. Tylenol seems to take the edge off. And Tylenol PM knocks me out at night so I can sleep.

One thing that is different from last time is that I DO NOT have the roaring tinnitus like I did last time. That is a blessing! There are no trains, sirens, or loud noises running through my head. Maybe the tinnitus was coming from my right side all along. I will say that I "heard" a piano playing a simple melody briefly the other night as I was going to sleep and thought about Beethoven. (He was a deaf composer and I have often wondered if the music he composed was what he "heard" in his head.)

I haven't had much of an appetite and have lost five pounds already. I have to make myself eat. My taste buds definitely are not working right. The only things that taste halfway decent are salty foods. And that isn't healthy. Sweets and chocolates don't taste right. It will be easy for me to give up chocolate for Lent this year!

I did go out twice the last two days but it wore me out. But, I don't trust myself to drive yet. On Tuesday, Dawn came and took me to lunch at Miss Olivia's Table, which is a cute little eatery in an old house in our town. I had the cook's special of the day, which was pot roast and it came with cornbread and coleslaw. I didn't eat it all but what I had tasted pretty good. Dawn had a bowl of the pot roast with a salad. She also took me to get my nails done and while I was there, I asked my hairdresser if she had an opening this week to trim my hair. She wasn't busy and had time to do it after my nail appointment so she trimmed it for me. I didn't have it washed, though, because I didn't want to lay back in the chair over the sink and get all dizzy again. While she was cutting my hair she asked me if I knew that I had a black eye. I said I didn't but sure enough, you could see the remnants of one on the side of my face. My hair covered it so I never noticed it. By the time we got back to the house, I was exhausted!

Yesterday, Susan, came and took me out to lunch, also. This time we went to a new coffee house in town called Grounded Coffee and More and they make the best vegetable soup, cornbread, and chai tea. So that was what we had. Susan originally wanted to bring a meal to our house but we have more food than we can eat right now. So, going out to lunch with a friend was the next best thing! I was going to try to go to prayer meeting last night at church but just didn't have the energy.

Maddie, our cocker spaniel (actually she belongs to Jason but I've claimed her!) has been my little shadow ever since I came home. As soon as I sit or lay down, she loves to snuggle next to me and keep me company. Her hair was getting long and she was turning into a little "Miss Stinky Poo" so I had Chris take her to the groomer on Tuesday. She looks and smells a lot better! She even has a valentine scarf around her neck!

I got a surprise last night. Steve texted me on my phone and said he was coming home early from San Diego! He was originally planning to come home on the red eye flight on Friday morning. Chris picked him up at the airport for me. I couldn't stay up late to wait for him but was happy when he crawled into our bed after midnight. My world is safe and sound again when he is home.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Birds Of Paradise

My brother, Doug, and his friend, Jonathan, sent these to me. Aren't they pretty and unusual? They came from ProFlowers.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Today Is Not A Good Day

I was going to try to have Marissa or Chris take me to church this morning. But, when I rolled over in bed, the room started to spin again. I have more dizziness today than I did yesterday. I did get up a little later and moved to my chair in the family room, which is where I've been since I came home from the hospital.

Yesterday, my brother Doug and his friend, Jonathan, sent me the most beautiful and unusual flower arrangement. It came by UPS in a big box and is a bouquet of Birds of Paradise flowers! I've always been in awe of these flowers whenever we travel to Florida or California. I'll get a picture later when I can get someone to take it for me. I also had a few visitors. Angie and Marcie from my Bible Study group dropped by and brought some delicious pot roast, fruit, chocolate cake, and banana bread. It was nice to have some company! I also did a little knitting, some reading, watched TV, and slept. Chris and I watched a movie last night. Maddie has not left my side since I came home and stays with me unless she needs to go out or eat. Riga is more concerned with the cat!

I'll watch the Super Bowl later today. I usually don't like football but I like the commercials. Marissa is making some waffles for breakfast and Chris has gone to Walmart for me. Steve left yesterday for San Diego and will be home on Friday.

No two surgeries are alike. There are some things that are different this time around. Food doesn't taste right, which tells me my taste buds are affected this time. This is a common side effect but I didn't experience it with my first implant surgery. I don't have as much nausea this time but it is there. (I had a nausea patch before I went into surgery and had to take it off on Friday. I may need to get another one.) The vertigo issue is worse. I was hoping to go back to work later this week. We'll just have to take one day at a time.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Rainy Day. . .

. . .is good for recovering. We don't have the snow that the weatherman promised but it is cold and dreary with a drizzle. I've stayed in my chair in the family all day resting. I woke up again around 5 a.m. this morning and needed more pain medicine. Went back to sleep and got up a 9 a.m. I've been reading, catching up on emails, knitting a little, and watching TV. I'm still experiencing some vertigo but not as bad as before. I've had a few visitors today as well. Two of my coworkers, Robin and Paula came around 11 a.m. with food from the credit union. Tina, my Bible Study leader stopped by with some goodies from Panera Bread. Then, Kristina, our Latvia exchange student, came for a little while between her classes at Maryville College.

I asked Steve to put some ointment on my scar this afternoon and he counted my staples and stitches. I have 12 staples and 12 stitches, which is more than what I had last time. Steve said that Dr. Merwin had to use a different instrument for this second surgery when he made the incision because of my implant that I already have on the other side. Something about a certain type of electrical current that I'm not allowed to have near my head. . .

Flower delivery! Flowers came today from the credit union. Aren't they pretty?!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Flowers from Chris and Mimi

These pink roses were waiting for me when I came home from the hospital. They are from Chris and Marissa. I love roses!

A Snow Day

We finally have a "snow day!" We woke up to a light dusting of snow on the ground this morning but it didn't last long. I'm doing a little bit better today but still dizzy. I have a nausea patch behind my ear and that seems to be taking care of the nausea part. The good news is that I do not have tinnitus like I did last time. There is no train or phantom noise running through my head. I slept pretty good last night but was awake at 5:30 a.m. to take some pain medication. It's hard to get comfortable because my new implant is on the side that I like to sleep on. I'm using a foam/neck pillow and that helps a lot. I stayed in bed most of the morning and was able to take a bath and wash my hair when I got up. Dr. Merwin had already taken my bandage off yesterday before I left the hospital. Dawn came with some wonderful taco soup around lunchtime and stayed with me most of the afternoon. I moved out in the family room and spent the afternoon in my chair. Maddie, our son's cocker spaniel, has not left my side at all. She is good company for me! Animals seem to sense when someone doesn't feel well.

Dawn says my incision looks great. She said the doctor did an excellent job stitching my head back up. She put Neosporin on it for me. My ear is numb and I can't feel a thing. I'll get a picture soon.

I don't have an activation date yet but I do see the Dr. on February 15th to get my stitches and staples out. My taste buds are a little funny this time but not bad. I do have an earache and cannot move my head too quickly or the room will start spinning again. My ear is swollen and I'm super sensitive to sounds when I have my processor on. I also have "dry mouth" and have to keep sipping liquids and lathering the chapstick on my lips. I don't have much of an appetite either. But, the worst is over and the best is yet to come!

After Surgery Pictures