Friday, February 24, 2012

The Follow-up Appointment

Yesterday, my mom, step-dad and I headed out at about 12:30, hitting the interstate to get to Denver for an appointment today. For most of the morning, we debated about whether or not we should make the trip, with the winter weather going on. But for the most part, the trip down wasn't too bad. Around Cheyenne it was a bit crazy, but once we hit Colorado, roads were clear! We finally arrived in Denver and found the hotel we had reservations at. It was a nice suite, with 2 bedrooms, and a small kitchen area. The hotel has partnered with the hospital and provide discounts to patients and family staying there, so that was what we did. It was a nice set up, and close to the hospital for my appointments. We did hit up Ikea, and got quite a few fun toys/stuffs for the kiddos. Even got my own little wooden train set as well, I was practically like a little kid last night. Dinner at Dave and Buster's, then back to the hotel for the night after fueling up the car.

This morning, mom got me up bright and early at 7:15, 7:30ish. Oh man, too early! I went to bed around midnightish or so, and it took me a while to get to sleep. So I definitely didn't quite get enough sleep. But oh well, we had to get a move on. Packed up all our stuff, checked out of the hotel, and found the hospital. Since we knew where the hospital was, we drove around a bit and found a small restaurant to have breakfast at. The food was good. Then we went to the hospital. Got there early enough, but oh well.

Mom and I went into the implant center to wait while stepdad went to get his car washed. Finally the audiologist came and got us, and we went into her office. Talked about the implants and how they worked, I got to see the demos of the Harmony and Neptune processors which was neat, got some questions answered, talked of expectations and such. Even talked of what the MAPping scheduling would be like as well. The graduate student took me to a sound booth for a quick hearing test, then it was back to the waiting room to wait for my appointment with the surgeon.

The office was running a bit behind. Someone came and got me, and Mom and I went into the surgeon's office and waiting quite a bit for him. We talked for quite a bit about this and that, and the surgeon showed up. He talked of what the surgery would be like, described the incision he'd use (small incision behind the ear and up and back a bit, so it's not all completely right behind the ear). Said surgery would last about an hour, hour and half. We also talked more of the CAT scan results, mom was questioning the ossification bit. Both the surgeon and the audiologist said that sometimes the CAT scan would be clear, but the surgeon would still end up finding ossification during surgery. So he decided he wanted an MRI done so we could get a better, clearer picture and actually know what we're dealing with.

Once we were done with him, we were taken to the surgery scheduler's office. She arranged to have the MRI done with the hospital (after calling 2 other imaging centers) for this afternoon! Got all that worked out, then off to another office to actually order the processors! We ended up calling Advanced Bionics for a little assistance with the order form, as I kept debating back and forth with myself "should I get this, or that?" I eventually did figure out everything. I didn't even know what size cables to get, so the phone call helped.  One Neptune (with ruby red caps for every color option possible, black cables for the Universal Head Piece, and white cables for the Aquamic), and one Harmony, dark sienna with the techno color caps... 4 Powercel Plus batteries for the Harmony. Audie suggested the Plus batteries, as she has a feeling I'm going to need a lot of power. Makes sense. The ordering process is quite the process, so many different options to pick from!

Finally we were done, and headed next door to the hospital and found the radiology center. I checked in, got a wrist band, and waited even more (and emptied out my pockets, stuffing the pocket in my coat which I left with mom and stepdad). Mom and stepdad did take off a bit to check on the car. While they were MIA, I was called back. Radiologist tech got an IV in my left arm (he couldn't find a vein in the right arm, which I wasn't all that surprised about, I can be a hard stick). Then into the MRI room, where I removed my hearing aid and glasses and laid down on the table. He stuck the cage on over my head, and into the machine I went. I did my best to stay as still as possible, and even took a short little snooze. Then I was briefly taken out of the machine so the tech could inject the contrast dye, then put back in for more scanning. Then tada, done! Removed the IV bit, and sent me back to the waiting room. We left and hit the road from there. It was about 3 when we left.

Did a stop in Loveland, had a late lunch/early dinner at the Cracker Barrel. Oh good catfish! Ooo! Did a little shopping there, then hit the Outlet Malls for a bit more shopping (step-dad loves taking advantage of clearance sales if he can!). Got more candy at Harry and David's (so basically I spent about $30 on candy today!), then back on the road to home.

Today was such an incredibly long day, and I'm glad to be back home. Now we can prepare for the next step, surgery!

March 20, pre-op with the surgeon, and pre-admissions at the hospital.
March 21, check in at the hospital at about 10, 10:30 in the morning, surgery at noon. Outpatient surgery, so I should be released after a few hours. I'm thinking we'll spend the night at a hotel just so I can recover a bit before hitting the road home.

April 3, activation in the morning, post-op with the surgeon in the early afternoon.
Then towards the end of April, more MAPping with the audiologist when she makes her trip up to Wyoming, then we'd go back down to Denver around June for further MAPing, and another audie visit to Wyoming around October. That's kind of the plan we're hoping to go with.

Audie says she can program both processors, adding the lower programs onto one processor, then more programs with more volume on the other, so that way when I max out on the one processor, I can then use the other processor until I see her again. The way I figure, I'll probably start off with the Neptune first, that way I don't have anything on my ear for a while longer, give it more time to heal, then switch to the Harmony and go from there. I'm not really worried about using the T-mic right away. Audie doesn't even think I'll hear anything at activation, that it'll be a slow "wake-up" period for my left ear, which is understandable. I'm not even expecting to hear anything right there and then. It's going to take time, possibly even up to 2 years before I'll start making sense of speech, which is to be expected since I haven't heard anything out of the left ear for so long. But I'm determined to put in the work and get the implant working for the left ear. I plan to use audiobooks as part of my auditory rehab... a friend of mine (who has also been my interpreter all throughout my schooling years) is also going to help me with auditory rehab as well, and I'm just going to work at it!

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