So near… not long now.
What is the scariest thing about the surgery for me? I often wonder if I am over-reacting a little, but if you read the list of ‘possible risks’ to cochlear implant surgery, it is a bit freaky.
My fears, outlined in chronological order:
My worst fear is, of course, dying under anaesthetic.
Most people would say “Pffft! As if that’ll happen! You’ll be fine!”
But I think it’s a real fear, though rare.
My father was a paediatrician in a town in New South Wales, and us kids would often overhear stories about patients. One particularly harrowing memory I have is of a story about a group of 14 year old girls from another high school near mine going on a joy ride late one night in their parents car, and getting into an accident on a rural back road. The accident was serious, but most of them got away with broken bones and concussion.
One of the girls had to go under a general anaesthetic to fix her shattered leg. She died under the anaesthetic, and it was later discovered that she had underlying heart problems that had never been diagnosed. I remember noticing dad was quiet for a while after that. I think I was about 10 or 11 when that happened.
So, that is fear number one.
Fear number two is facial paralysis.
Apparently the surgery site is so close to a bunch of nerves in your face, that you can get paralysis down one side of your face, and it goes all lopsided. And though I am not a vain person, I don’t particularly want to look like Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. But I guess if it happened it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Ok, I’d probably scare my little nieces and nephews until they were old enough to understand that ‘the monster is Auntie Kate’, and have to eat through a straw for the rest of my life, but I know Ben and my family would still love me. (hopefully)
Fear number 3 is loss of taste, or change of taste.
Again, because the surgery is close to a bunch of nerves, there is the potential for interference in the taste buds, either on one side of the mouth, or all over.
Now, my little brother once told me a story about a friend’s father who had to have a life-saving operation on his brain, but they were going to have to go via a particular nerve – and so the surgeons actually gave this man a choice – either lose your hearing, or lose your sense of smell & taste.
This guy chose to lose his sense of taste… (hey, I would have done the same, I think)
And he later said it was the worst thing he could have done, and if he had known what it was like, he would have chosen his hearing.
Well, I think he sounds a bit crazy, but – could you imagine not being able to taste, or smell anything??? At least you could eat those Brussels Sprout and Watercress Smoothies without gagging, so you’d be healthy without the pain … but what greater experience is there than the scent of a fresh coffee, baking bread, the taste of a homemade pie, a hot pizza, a cold beer, a fresh strawberry…
You also wouldn’t be able to smell burning if there was a fire, or smell food to tell if it’s off or bad. Imagine discovering the funny texture of the milk was because it was off! Gah!
So, you can understand the worry there too.
Fear number 4 is that the cochlear implant might just not work at all.
I can’t put my hearing aid back in ever again after the surgery, so this is why they want you to get as little help from the hearing aid as possible.
I have already mentioned that I don’t get much speech recognition from the hearing aid – but I can hear some environmental noises, and it kind of balances my head to have both hearing aids in.
So, the thought of something going wrong and being ‘one-eared’ forever … it’s kind of worrying.
And finally, last fear, number 5 – is dizziness.
Because the surgery disturbs the inner ear, the balance centre of the body, there is potential to be completely out of balance, dizzy and nauseous for a number of weeks or even months after the surgery. That …. would just suck…
So there we have it. All my fears rolled into one post. If this was on paper I would symbolically burn it. But because of the digital age, I’ll just press publish, and let everyone else have nightmares about it.