Before I start on telling you what I am hearing now, I want to just waffle on about something else for a second!

The best thing about this blog for me…

The very best thing about this blog for me has been the parents from around the world that have either emailed me or left comments on my posts, telling me how this blog has enabled them to understand a bit more what it is like for their own hearing impaired baby or toddler – and maybe allows them to kind of ‘experience’ what it must be like as a kid to have a cochlear implant.

Because you can’t really ask a 9 month old baby, “How does it feel?” or “What exactly are you hearing?”

Imagine:

Baby: “Well Mum? Your voice really sounds sooooo stoopid when you coo to me and talk in ‘mumsy gibberish’. Stop that, I aint a baby! Oh, hang on … I AM a baby. Whatever.”

The comment that really struck me was one from Iman (at the end of my previous post). It really made me feel like awwwww! I mean, imagine being a mum to a baby with an implant – it is, in some ways, kind of heart rending, you know, like as a mother, you just want to be able to know and understand how your child is feeling – so I felt really good that maybe that’s what my blog was doing – giving a tiny little voice to babies out there that have cochlear implants – see Iman’s comment below:

i gave birth to my third child, 19 months ago and he was born hearing impaired, with profound hearing loss. he has had the implant for a year now and he is doing really good but he has difficulty sleeping at night, he will sit in his bed for hours during the night awake and talking to himself and i never understood why. when reading your blog about how you would still hear noises even when the processor was off, it made sense. i would love to know how it gets down the track.
Iman

So that was totally mega cool, and really made my day.

As for an update on what I am hearing now, see below:

8 weeks since surgery, 4 weeks since switch on … What can I hear now?

Well, it is amazing – it sounds much more natural now.

Audio book

On the plane home from Queensland on Sunday night, I plugged myself (using the Cochlear Personal Audio cable) into Ben’s iRiver ipod thing.

He had to show me how to use it – I am so totally web savvy and tech savvy, but when it comes to things that only produce sound, I have never used them!

And I listened to my audio book that Ben had downloaded for me.

I could hear it so clearly, even with the roar of the jet engines in the background. I was truly amazed. I flipped through the book, kept finding the pages I was up to, and then decided it was too easy following along with the book.

And I leant back, and listened to the story with my eyes closed!  *sigh*

Conversations without lipreading!

At home last night while cooking dinner, Ben and I had a full conversation without me looking at him. As we were preparing stuff in the kitchen, he was telling me the synopsis of this new series on TV called “The Last Enemy”, and it had some weird futuristic bizarre plot-line involving biotechnological diseases and government espionage – the usual.

The only reason I realised that I was listening to him without looking at him was because Ben stopped talking mid-sentence, and said in his best hurt voice: “Well, if you’re not interested, I’ll stop telling you!”

And I looked up, and said “I AM listening!” And we both realised that because I wasn’t facing him, he thought I couldn’t hear him!!!!!

We both had these huge grins on our faces!

So the rest of the conversation, Ben said to me “You have to say ‘yes? yes?’ after each sentence so I feel like you can hear what I am saying!”

It was hilarious.

Our conversation was tainted by those typical broad Aussie accents where everything ends in a question:

Ben: “So there’s this disease outbreak that was hidden by the Government?”
Kate: “Yes?”
Ben: “And the brother of the bio-terrorist scientist gets blown up by a land mine?”
Kate: “Yes?”
Ben: “but then he comes back from the dead, because he didn’t really die, he just faked his death?
Kate: “Yes?”

It might not sound like it, but to me it was a wonderfully satisfying conversation!

I went to the Cinema!

Oh, and I went to a movie at the cinema for the first time since I was about 24 years old – a movie without subtitles I mean.

So, it’s been 6 years since I have seen a normal movie at the cinema.

I was with my three girlfriends, we were having a girls weekend at the Gold Coast, and were killing time at Pacific Fair before our flight left.

And we decided to see ‘District 9’, (I don’t know WHAT we were thinking – it’s about Aliens and things getting blown up).

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to hear much, but I was amazed that I managed to get maybe 75 per cent of the movie! There were lots of moments when people shouted something as they were blown up, or mutilated, or maybe there was a voice-over during a shoot-out – these ones I had trouble hearing – but the majority of it I could hear!

When we came out of the cinema, I was so excited, and said to the girls: “Man, I could hear almost everything, I understood it all! This is great! The only thing I didn’t get was – why was the guy smiling when was blowing up the alien’s babies? I must’ve missed something there.”

And they were like: “Ah – we didn’t get that either. No idea!”

HAHA!

So there you go.

This scientific invention, the cochlear implant, is ACTUALLY WORKING!!!!

Today Ben and I drove out to Westmead Hospital to see Professor Da Cruz to get the final layer of bandages off, and to check that everything has healed up.

I was pretty excited about this, because it was also the day when I could get the go-ahead to wash my hair – which has been untouched (well, gingerly brushed) for a record 13 days now.

This is what I looked like after the operation with gauze strips behind my ear for 13 days.

This is what I looked like after the operation with gauze strips behind my ear for 13 days.

I am surprised there were not more things growing out of my head, but it appears not washing you hair doesn’t kill you. It wasn’t even that itchy or too oily – maybe could have passed for a hippy that’s all. Luckily I have been able to work from home, so not too worried about appearance. Poor Ben.

So, anyway, Professor Da Cruz peeled off the remaining gauze strips that were covering it, while Ben took a photo.

I was mildly freaking out because he literally just pulled it off with tweezers, and it felt OH SO WRONG! Because I have not touched that spot for 13 whole days.

I was mildly freaking out because he literally just pulled it off with tweezers, and it felt OH SO WRONG! Because I have not touched that spot for 13 whole days.

I asked to have a look, because the cut apparently went right behind the ear – I was sure that there would be a massive scar… so I was eagerly asking Ben “is it really cool? really big? a bad scar? tell me! tell me!”, and he showed me.

Man, it looks gross, but really, there is NOTHING under those strips. No scar - nothing!

I couldn't believe it. There was barely a mark on me. Just a faint line running down the inside of my ear.

There was NOTHING THERE.

Well, barely anything – just a verrrry faint line right in the corner of my ear.

I have to say Professor Da Cruz is totally the coolest and most awesome surgeon ever. But deep down I do feel like a scar would have been cool. Oh well.

I have to say Professor Da Cruz is totally the coolest and most awesome surgeon ever. But deep down I do feel like a scar would have been cool. Oh well.

I feel CHEATED!!! I wanted a massive scar so that people would ooh and aah, and I would be able to tailor the story accompanying the scar to suit my needs. If it’s someone I want to scare, tell them it’s where I was stabbed in the ghettos of Neutral Bay. If it’s someone I want to impress, tell them I have a computer in my head.

But no. Nothing! Unbelievable.

I said to Professor Da Cruz that it kind of felt like maybe they had tricked me – knocked me out with anaesthetic, laid me on the table, maybe played Celine Dion at high levels through headphones, and then bandaged me up. Literally. It might not have happened. There is no proof! No scar, and no pain. Weeeeeird. Well, my head was a bit red and itchy, but Celine Dion does that.

With Professor Da Cruz, after he checked my head. No scar at all just 13 days after cochlear implant surgery - I am just amazed. I am one happy customer.

With Professor Da Cruz, after he checked my head. No scar at all just 13 days after cochlear implant surgery - I am just amazed. I am one happy customer.

So, everything is on track for the switch-on of the implant, when I get all plugged in to become “Cyborg Kate” in just 9 days.

Professor Da Cruz also checked that the X-ray showed that the Cochlear Implant was in the right spot. If it wasn't we would have had to take it out and do it all again. Gah!

Professor Da Cruz also checked that the X-ray showed that the Cochlear Implant was in the right spot. If it wasn't we would have had to take it out and do it all again. Gah!

So, now it’s only nine days to go until activation. Wish me luck!

Ah dammit.

I can't taste Nori Seaweed anymore! Dammit! It was one of my favourite things.

I can't taste Nori Seaweed anymore! Dammit! It was one of my favourite things.

I was getting peckish while working from home yesterday, and decided to have one of my weirder, healthy snacks – a container filled with pepitas, pine nuts and sunflower seeds, and strips of nori (that is dried seaweed – well, I did say it was one of my weirder snacks).

And lo … I can’t taste them like I used to. In fact, it tastes like I am eating cardboard, particularly the nori.

Sad sad sad.

I wondered – I thought it had all been too good to be true.

I’ve also noticed my tongue is kind of numb, along with the tip of the implanted ear. It’s a bit scary to touch a bit of your ear, and NOT feel anything.

But Nori – my sweet Nori! Perhaps I’ll never taste thy salty sea fronds again! *sigh* excuse me while I go weep over my keyboard.

I decided to post some more photos of Ben and me pre and post surgery.

Getting ready for me to go into surgery. A bit nerve-wracking.

Getting ready for me to go into surgery. A bit nerve-wracking.

My actual sugery apparently only took 1 hour, though I was ‘inside’ for four hours. I don’t remember waiting around that long.

If you look closely, you can see the sticky post it note that accompanied my file: "Patient is deaf". I still find it weird to be described like that.

If you look closely, you can see the sticky post it note that accompanied my file: "Patient is deaf". I still find it weird to be described like that.

And here is Ben’s last view of me as I am taken in. I was definitely feeling scared as they wheeled me out, but tried to think positive thoughts – e.g: “Anaesthetist promised I wouldn’t die!” Stuff like that.

Being wheeled out of the pre-op ward, and into surgery

Being wheeled out of the pre-op ward, and into surgery

After I got out, and had recovered (to read more about the surgery, click here) – the next morning, Dr Da Cruz came and told me it was time to take off the bandage. I was like “What the …? Now? Don’t I keep it on for like a week or something?” He explained that I didn’t need the bandage, I could keep it off, and just have the gauze covering the wound. So, you can see I am mildly freaking out as he takes it off below:

The bandage comes off in the morning, and I don't really feel comfortable without it!

The bandage comes off in the morning, and I don't really feel comfortable without it!

So, what did I do? When I got home, I asked Ben to wrap another bandage around my head! HAHA!

At home after I made Ben bandage me back up. Thanks Ben

At home after I made Ben bandage me back up. Thanks Ben

I just couldn’t bring myself to lie down on our couch at home, and let my ear/head touch the pillow. I kept imagining germs and bacteria getting in there. Gah! Yuk!

I mean, deep down, I knew that he was right, the wound was sealed enough with the gauze, but I decided to placate the worry-wart in me, and give myself a bandage for the day – just to make myself feel better.

So, I haven’t been able to wash my hair, and I haven’t been sleeping on my head on that side – but it doesn’t really hurt. It”s more that fear you have of hurting yourself!

And then flowers arrived from my girlfriends – thanks guys!

First day back at home, and the door bell rang, and I got a delivery of flowers from my girlfriends.

First day back at home, and the door bell rang, and I got a delivery of flowers from my girlfriends.

So, it’s day 5 after the surgery, and I’ve been up since 4am this morning, as I couldn’t sleep. My neck is hurting a bit, and I can really feel the computer chip thing sitting on my skull now – that is kind of freaky. I didn’t think I’d be so aware of it. Well actually, that’s not entirely true – I can feel it, but I can’t actually tell where it’s sitting.

Ben keeps telling me we should test it by dangling some metal over my head, and seeing if it sticks to my head.

Not funny.

I told him no way, I don’t even want to touch it until I see Dr Da Cruz in a week.

But still he keeps jangling his keys suggestively at my head in the hope that I’ll give it a go, see if the keys stick to my head. Am not quite ready to ‘test’ my magnet yet, and am not even sure it would work – wouldn’t you need another magnet to make it stick? I have no idea, and am not going to experiment!

I may be Robo-Kate, but I am still a scaredy cat.

17 days to go until the switch-on.

Am feeling pretty good. A bit tired. My head doesn’t hurt at all, this is the most bizarre thing. I just have this feeling of something being in my ear. I can’t even tell where the implant magnet part is sitting on my skull, because I have been too scared to touch it.

Ben has made me soup, brought me books and magazines. *sigh* Could get used to this.

Ben has made me soup, brought me books and magazines. *sigh* Could get used to this.

Ben has been looking after me. He’s taken two days off work, and has been making me cups of tea, dinner, and bringing me newspapers, making me soup, and he’s currently making me a real hot chocolate. I think I am the luckiest girl in the world.

I am just going to take it slowly over the next few days. I felt so hyper after coming out of the surgery, because I just couldn’t believe how painless it was. But then I started to ache a bit, so took the paracetemol … and now I am feeling really foggy.

And talking feels a bit uncomfortable – like the vibrations of my voice are moving the implant.

Can’t tell you how happy I am to be holed up at home right now.

I’m reading lots of blogs online – there are some amazingly interesting ones out there – and reading the newspaper, and replying to emails. Unfortunately our laptop connection broke, so it meant that I had to sit at the computer to read, and I started to feel a bit funny sitting up.

So Ben has set up the desktop computer in a bizarre balancing act, and I am lying down with the keyboard on my lap, mouse balancing on a book, and looking up at the screen. But I am comfy. My work colleagues would be proud – it is desk contortion-ism at its best. I am always being pulled up for my terrible OHS set up with my desk at work. I find it so comfortable to slump, that I have made my desk at work particularly slump-worthy – with the screen up as high as it can go, so I can just melt into my chair, looking up at my screen like at the cinema when you are way down the front.

Anyway – check out the before and after pics of my head – the red stuff is not blood, just the anti-bacterial orange solution stuff they paint on before the surgery. One of the worst things is I can’t wash my hair until after next Wednesday, and it’s already really stiff with all the stuff they’d painted my head with … yukky. But it’s all totally worth it.

My head, before and after cochlear implant surgery. Not too messy if I do say so myself.

My head, before and after cochlear implant surgery. Not too messy if I do say so myself.

Now it’s only 19 days until I get the implant switched on.

The next count down begins. Phase one out of the way. Bring on Phase Two!