Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Surgery day

Today went fairly well, the surgery was a success!

We were at the hospital by like... 7:20ish or something like that this morning, when my actual check-in time was for 8:15. But, stepdad wasn't sure about the traffic conditions and rush hour in Denver, and if we'd run into some traffic, so we headed out pretty early. But no big deal. I got checked in with the registration desk, and then sent over to sit in the lobby. One of the check-in ladies came over to me after a short while, showed me my wrist band to make sure the info on it was right, and put it on. She also gave me a sheet of paper full of those medical bar codes to take with me upstairs.

We found the elevators and went up to the 3rd floor, and proceeded to the surgical waiting room. Stepdad got bored or antsy so he got up and roamed I guess. Mom and I chatted a bit, I played some pinball on my blackberry, and checked Facebook. Used the bathroom, then met the interpreter, Beth, in the waiting room. She was pretty nice. At about 8ish, a nurse named ... Angie? came and got me, and took me to the pre-op area to my bed. Left me alone for a few minutes so I could change into the hospital gown and non-slip socks and got comfortable on the bed.

She came back, took my vitals, we talked. She got Beth and brought her back. I answered Angie's questions. She was going to draw some more blood (they have to do a pregnancy test on all women of child-bearing age, regardless), but then decided we could skip it. She asked me if I was absolutely positively 100% sure I was not pregnant, and I confirmed it. That was good enough for her. Got the blood pressure cuff around my right arm, oxygen-pulse monitor in my left ring finger, and she took vitals. Then proceeded to try to get an IV going (which failed). Couldn't get the IV in my left hand, so she stopped and went to find another nurse to try it. Angie came back with a warm compress and wrapped it around my left arm to try to get the veins to show up better. The other nurse showed up shortly, and she got the IV in the crook of my left elbow. Mom and stepdad were allowed to see me then, and we just waited and waited, chatting here and there. Angie wrote "yes" on a piece of medical tape and stuck it over my left ear, confirming it's the left ear to be implanted.

Dr. Kelsall stopped by, and we talked. I told him I had gotten the antibiotics and the ear drops picked up, but not the pain pills. He was confused and thought it was odd I hadn't gotten my pain pills, so he wonders if the Walgreens I typically get my scripts from withheld it or something, since the Walgreens did call him to confirm the prescription. He wrote a new prescription, and said I didn't really need the ear drops as they don't generally prescribe ear drops. Oh really? He said to use if it I did end up with some drainage but not to worry much about it. He left and the anesthesiologist swung by. He was very nice and informative. We went over the medical history quickly, he checked out my bloodwork from yesterday and was pleased with it. Told me of the process of anesthesia and said he'd be there the whole time monitoring me. I told him "you better be!" jokingly and we all laughed. He said he'd have a very special margarita waiting for me in the OR, then he disappeared.

Angie came back, along with 2 more nurses that would transport me to the OR. Gave my glasses to mom so she could hold on to them, told them I'd see them later. Angie gave me an injection of Versed, and the other 2 nurses wheeled me away from the pre-op area. Ended up in the OR and they helped me over to the table. A warm blanket was placed over me, the anesthesiologist placed monitor pads on me and got me hooked up. I don't even remember if he put a mask over my face or what, as I was out pretty quick. When I slowly started coming to, I was in recovery, thinking "it's over already?", noticed I was on oxygen, and went back to sleep. I was in and out of it for a while. Another nurse there checked on me often, and even gave me little bits of ice chips. Dr. Kelsall stopped by, gave me a thumbs up and told me everything went well. I think I asked him if he definitely got the Advanced Bionics device in and he nodded "oh yeah!" Nurse injected some pain med into the IV to help with the pain, as my whole left head was hurting.  Even felt like I had a migraine in the left side of my forehead for a while there. Eventually she gave me an injection of something different for the pain, which made me feel warm and tingly and I felt like I was floating off. That pain med knocked me out quickly enough, and I slept some more.

Nurse did wake me up after a short nap, and helped me move from the bed into a recliner-like chair that had wheels. She got me some Sierra Mist to drink, with a straw, and moved me to the post-op area. Yet a different nurse took over and promptly took away the straw, saying I can't use straws as it can cause some pressure. Oh got it, makes sense. Was fine with me anyway. She was about to go get mom and stepdad when I told her I thought I was going to be sick. She gave me something to hold on to in case I did get sick, but it didn't happen. Came back with mom and stepdad, and they had bought a toy frog from the gift stop. Frog's dressed in a green rain jacket, has an umbrella, and he dances and sings or something. I don't know, I didn't have my hearing aid on for a while. Stepdad disappeared to get himself something to eat, and to get my pain pills prescription filled at the nearby Walgreens).  The nurse gave me some saltine crackers, graham crackers, and even a chocolate pudding so I could try to eat something. I took little bites of this and that, finding it odd I could take with only the right half of the tongue. But I knew taste disturbances was common with CI surgery, but just a weird experience.  She also brought me a ginger ale to see if that would help with the nausea as well. Also gave me a dramamine and a pain pill to take, which I did. But shortly enough I got sick and the pain pill came back up anyway. Blech. We tried the pain pill again, and it stayed down. Still was experiencing pain, and the pill was taking its sweet time kicking in, so she asked if I wanted to try morphine. I decided yes, but before letting her inject it, I had her help me to the bathroom first! Walked very slowly, feeling a bit wobbly but not too off balance, so that was good. Back into the recliner, she injected the morphine, then another nurse replaced her for the evening. I dozed off for a bit, tried eating a bit more saltine cracker and drinking a bit more ginger ale.

Soon enough it was decided I was well enough to be released. The nurse went over the discharge instructions with mom while I kind of dozed off, then got a wheel chair. Mom helped me change into my pajamas after the nurse removed the IV and all the monitor stuffs. Got into the wheel chair, and we headed down to the main entrance, where stepdad was waiting (he did come back after having a burger and mom sent him to get the car). Got in, and off to the hotel we went. He did drive kinda crazy so I was doing what I could to not get sick again. Got to the hotel at 6ish, stepdad dropped us off right at the entrance, and mom and I went in together. I got up the stairs fine, moving slowly and holding onto the railing. Got into the room and went straight for the bed. Took my antidepressant, got settled in with the Sea-Bands wristbands for nausea on my wrists and dozed off again. Woke up at about 8ish free of pain yay! Decided I felt like I could tolerate eating a bit. So far not too  bad. Am feeling a bit of pain now, so I've taken another pain pill, along with my first dose of the antibiotic. Just relaxing, somewhat watching TV, and sort of lurking online.

Plan is to head home tomorrow. Will definitely keep the Sea-Bands on, just to be on the safe side.  Will be nice to get back home, and I may even stay a night or two at mom and stepdad's before going back to my place.

After the surgery was done, Dr. Kelsall spoke with my mom about how it went. Turns out, he did run into some ossification which was kinda deep in the ear or something. Deep enough that the MRI didn't see it. But, he was able to drill through it, and was able to fully insert the electrode. Yay! And they tested the implant in the OR to make sure it was working, and there was a response! I guess they don't normally get responses when they test the implant in the OR, so this is good. Don't really know exactly what sort of "response" this is all about, but hey I'm just happy to know they got a response. Got a couple of weeks for the incision to heal up, swelling to go down and such, then we'll come back April 3 for activation and post-op. I have actual sutures behind my ear, and not the dissolving stuff either, Yeah, removal of the stitches ought to be fun, right? I can head the head bandage off tomorrow, but will probably wait until we get back home to remove it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

the day before

Got up at 6 a.m. this morning and took a quick peek out my window to see my car was still covered in snow from the previous day. Hoped there wasn't also ice covering the car hidden beneath the snow. I got dressed and piled up all of my stuff next to the door, and made sure I had everything I needed for the trip. Then I went outside to deal with my car.  Yep, ice on the car, kind of thick too. Darn it! Took several pushes of the "Unlock" button on my car remote and finally the stupid car unlocked. Started it up, turned on the defrosters, and got to work. Scraping ice off the car sure is tiring work but I eventually got it (even after trying the de-icer my sister got for me... that just kind of made a bigger mess instead). I eventually packed up all my stuff in the car, cleared up my windshield as best as I could (using the window washing fluid as that had antifreeze stuff in it too), and made my way over to my mom and stepdad's house. Eventually we got all of our stuffs in his car and we hit the road, first swinging by McDonald's for some breakfast.

I ate my breakfast sandwich and hashbrown, got comfortable, and doze off to sleep. Quick refuel stop in Cheyenne, and we kept on going. We finally arrived at Denver and went to Chili's for lunch. Just as we were pulling into Chili's, I got this relay message in my email: RelayOperator 1557F
(f) i am a hospital provider my name is lois we have to cancel for appointments in denver for tomorrow uhm as i have not been able to obtain an authorization from wyoming medicaid and we cannot contact your doctor

Ahhh! Wait a minute! Medicare's supposed to be covering the surgery, and from what I had been told, we didn't need a pre-authorization from Medicaid for them to cover the remaining 20% that Medicare didn't cover. What's going on?! So I shot off an email to the CI surgery coordinator so she could help get this figured out. Tried to call the CI center with the relay app on my blackberry with no luck. While we were seated, I did end up getting another message from the same person at the hospital. RelayOperator 80774M
meghan this is lois from swedish medical center in denver. you can disregard my earlier message your surgery is still on. you do not need to call the doctor. lois.

Whew! I calmed down, and ate a bit of my lunch, and we checked out. Stepdad dropped mom and I off at the hospital, and left. Mom and I made our way over the office building where all the different medical offices are since I had a pre-op appointment with Dr. Kelsall first. I checked in, signed some forms (consenting to the surgical procedure, consenting to a student audiologist observing the surgery, that sort of thing). Mom and I sat and flipped through magazines and chatted. Surgery coordinator got me and we talked of what went on during lunch. Turns out Medicaid wanted a paper trail of everything going on, so she had faxed everything over to them. Said everything was still on for tomorrow, no worries. Whew!  Went back to the waiting room, and was eventually called back to Kelsall's office. I waited a bit longer in his office until he showed up. He said my MRI results were still clear, no signs of ossification or blockage, yahoo! Definitely great news there. We chatted a bit about the surgery, he answered a few of my questions and such, and confirmed we're doing Advanced Bionics in the left ear. Then I was sent back to surgery coordinator's room so she could make copies of the paperwork I had filled out earlier to take with me to the hospital. She also wrote down directions so Mom and I could find our way to the pre-admission area.

Finally we left the CI center and walked over to the hospital. I checked in, answered some questions, handed over my insurance cards and such. We were led to the pre-admission area and met with the supervising nurse so she could get my interpreter request taken cared of. More waiting, then shortly after 3 a nice nurse named Pat led us into a small room. We went over my medical history, list of meds I take, allergies, all that stuff. She also drew some blood just to make sure my count was normal. Then we were done! Yay! All set for tomorrow!

We went outside the front of the hospital, about where stepdad dropped us off at. Mom had to call him to let him know we were done and to get us. Got to the hotel for a bit (stepdad got our suite while mom and I were at my appointments), had dinner with stepdad's sister and niece, then back to the hotel. It's been a long day, and I'm tired.

Still not quite sure if I'm nervous yet or not. All I know is it's been a long day so I will probably get to sleep soon enough... Whenever mom and stepdad get back from snack hunting. :) Hope everything goes smoothly tomorrow with the CI surgery! We will spend the night at the hotel tomorrow night, then head home Thursday if I'm up for it.

Oh, it turns out my dad won't make it. He was going to drive up from New Mexico, but he ran into some road closures in Raton (due to snow) and had to turn around. Darn it! The weather sure has been pretty nutty lately.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nice start to my week...

Before taking off for work, I checked my emails real quick at home. I saw that I had an relay message..
I m reminding you megan of your appointment and the pre admit clinic at swedish please arrive at the information desk in the lobby of the hospital at 12:45 bring your insurance card photo id and a method of payment if you have a copay for the surgery also we ask that you bring a list of your medications and dosages

Wait, what? .... My pre-admit appointment's supposed to be at 3:00 p.m. March 20th. UUuhhh, I checked my blue book which I wrote down all of my cochlear implant related schedules, questions and notes. Original pre-admissions appointment was scheduled for March 13 at 1 p.m.  Um, wait a minute! That appointment should have been rescheduled!

So I drove to work, as I needed to get to work. Then I pulled open the relay message email again, and started an relay call to the hospital. Got the info desk and they connected me to the Pre-admit area. Found out that my reschedule appointment was never set in the first place, and that I was expected to be seen TOMORROW. Oohh boy! I quickly shot off an email to the CI surgery scheduler person, and also stayed on the line with the pre-admit desk. I told them that the surgeon's office said she had rescheduled my pre-admit appointment to March 20th in the afternoon, and Pre-admit said that was not in their computer at all. I told them I was coming from out of state for the surgery on the 21st, so I wanted the pre-admit for March 20th. They were able to schedule me in for March 20 at 3 p.m. for pre-admissions. Wow. This is quite the start of my week, ha. She also asked if I wanted to have an interpreter available for the appointments. I thought on this, and told her I can usually get by with my hearing aid and lip reading. She said I would probably be fine for the pre-admit appointment, but for the 2 hours before surgery I might want to have one handy as there'd be different medical staff personnel coming to talk to me and such. Ok, fine, go ahead and line up an interpreter for then. She asked if I would want an interpreter available for my parents too, so I had to tell her my parents were hearing, not deaf. Ok. Then I had her tell me the full instructions for the pre-admit appointment (I wasn't sure if my emailed message had gotten cut off or if that was it). Ok, need my insurance cards, ID, list of meds and doses, and form of payment if there's a co-payment. Got it.

Ended that call with everything all cleared up, and shot off another email to the CI surgery scheduler person and told her of my phone call with pre-admit, that I got everything taken cared of. I should be good to go now. Whew.  My boss is out of the building this week, so this was what I needed to start off my week with.  Now that I have the appointments confusion taken cared of, now I can focus on my work. Hard to believe next week I'll be back in Denver, for pre-op and pre-admissions on the 20th and surgery on the 21st. Still not feeling nervous or anything yet, just ready to go I guess.