Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pre-Op Appointment

On Monday, October 8, I had my pre-op appointment with my doctor, Dr. Slater. When I checked in, the receptionist handed me a four-page document to look over and sign. The first two pages listed all the things that could possibly go wrong with surgery, the third page described how I should take care of myself after surgery, and the last page was a consent form to indicate that yes, I understood the risks of surgery. I also had to fill in the blank on the signature page: "I want Dr. Slater to operate on my _____ ear." This would be the first of many times that I had to confirm that my right ear was to be implanted.

Here are the things that were listed on the first two pages of the document:
  • Hearing loss: Since the hearing in my right ear is comparatively better than my left ear, so putting an implant in my right ear was fairly risky.  In the unlikely event that something went wrong, I would be worse off than I was before the implant.
  • Dizziness: The implant goes through the vestibular system and causes a pretty big disruption. For the first time in my life, I would have vertigo.
  • Taste Disturbances: The surgery can damage the nerve that supplies taste.
  • Ringing: Tinnitus is pretty common and understandably so. I'd never had a problem with it before.
  • Facial Nerve Paralysis: Same idea as taste disturbances. Some of the nerves controlling the face could be pushed aside since they run through the middle ear.
  • Perforation of the ear drum: Ouch.
  • Infection and Meningitis: Scary, but good thing I got a meningitis vaccine last week.
  • Cerebral Spinal Fluid Leak: My cochleas have a Mondini malformation, meaning that the bones do not have the full number of turns. Cochleas look like snails, at least normal ones do, and they have at least 2 full turns. Mine have 1-1/4 turns. This would put me at a higher risk of spinal fluid leak, hence the need for the meningitis vaccine.
Post-surgery things to remember:
  • No hair-washing for 3-5 days after surgery
  • Resume a normal diet on the day after surgery
  • Do not blow your nose for one week (this seemed to be maybe the most unhelpful thing ever. We are in the middle of fall allergy season here in Austin!)
  • Do not bend over after surgery.
  • No physical activity for one week, regardless of how you're feeling, and no lifting more than 20 pounds (sorry, Emily and Molly.)
  • Do not exercise or play sports for three weeks after surgery
  • Do not swim or fly until the doctor says it's OK
 I read through all of these worst-case scenarios and instructions then signed the consent form. No need to fear.  Of all the emotions associated with impending surgery, fear was never one of them. However, I wasn't sure whether this would be something to show my mother. Ha.

The appointment itself started out with Dr. Slater's PA, who asked me if I'd signed the consent form (I had) and handed me a prescription for Zofran and Norco. I had to ask what they were for.  (Nausea and pain.) He also told me that the hospital would call with instructions for surgery. Because the surgery would be at a hospital in a part of town that I don't know, I asked if they had maps to the hospital; they didn't. I guess that's what Google Maps is for.

Dr. Slater came in next and looked at my ears with his otoscope. I'm not sure what he was looking for since everything affected by a cochlear implant is hiding behind the ear drum.  I teased him about the scary side effects hand out and told him to "Please be careful."  He smiled sheepishly and said, "I've never hurt anyone yet."  And that was about it.  Cleared for a cochlear implant on Wednesday.


  1. I'm interested to know why you decided to implant your R ear first, since it is your better hearing ear. Why not do your L ear first?

  2. I totally remember those lists, I would say that they were not kidding about bending over. I think I passed out twice after my surgery, every time we went to change my bandages, the pressure change was enough to do me under. Once at a post-op appointment, I was sitting in Dr. Slater's chair and we were talking about how things were going. He took off the bandage and immediately I felt totally dizzy and nauseous, I asked him why that happened all the time, and before I could hear him answer me, he flipped the seat back and I was pretty much hanging upside down. Or at least that's how I felt. Anyway I hope you don't experience as much of that as I did.