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I cleared the final hurdle.

I had my pre-operative assessment in Manchester today. I had my height, weight, blood pressure checked and then blood taken. All done within 30 minutes, not the 1-2 hours listed on the letter!

This was followed by me killing time at Manchester Museum, I like checking out the critters in the vivarium. Inside the glass enclosures are beautiful little poison dart frogs and all sorts of lizards. After spotting lots of cute frogs I went back to the hospital for my final hearing test.

When I got into the testing room, I was really nervous that they were going to repeat the open set sentences discrimination test, which is awful to do. Turns out it was just a straight forward bleep test.
The lovely audiologist explained that everything was done and that it was a matter of waiting for a date. Several people currently on the wait-list are too poorly to undergo surgery so hopefully I'll get an operative slot fairly soon.

In other news, this finally grew on me, it's ridiculously catchy. :…

It's speeding up now

I met the actual surgeon, a Mr Freeman, last Wednesday to discuss my case further. It was really informative and I left feeling more confident and optimistic about the procedure and outcomes.

In short, my case can be summarised as follows:

1 - I have bilateral hypoplastic cochleas, which is essentially 'under formed' cochleas. I have three quarters of a turn as opposed to the two and a half turns typically found.
2 - My cochlea on the left side looks like a very flat number 9 in that there is a curve at one end but it is very small. Regardless, the surgeon is optimistic that an electrode array could be inserted along the cochlea's length thereby giving me a full range of pitch perception, theoretically speaking.
3 - Medel has two cochlear electrode arrays which are suitable. One which is 12mm (tiny) and the other which is 19mm. The surgeon is optimistic having looked at the scans, that the small one will fit. However, they will have a small probe they can insert to check w…

What the actual f.....?

I'm on the list for surgery! Yesterday, after waiting to be seen for what felt like an eternity, I was ushered in and came face to face with the head of the CI clinic and one of the surgical consultants at Manchester Infirmary. After a smattering of small talk, I was informed that 'we would be happy to offer you a cochlear implant in your left ear.' I was so stunned I didn't speak for a moment. It was absolutely surreal. And then there was a plot twist.

I have a malformed cochlea. My cochlea isn't shaped like a seashell spiral in a pea. It's shaped like a 'spaceship,' or as it was charmingly put to me, 'a blob.' The upside of this is at least  I have finally learned the cause of deafness after 31 years! The surgical consultant said that I had done extremely well to get to this point considering the biological ineptitude of my inner ear. What does this mean? It means, while the surgeon is happy to operate, and he thinks it will be 'straight-f…

Waiting....

I finally have an appointment to meet with the ENT surgeon at Manchester! I only discovered the date of it after emailing and asking Peter to call as it had been a while since I had the scans. I see the surgeon on June 6th and I am finally starting to feel a touch nervous. Facebook has been a great source of information with a host of groups dedicated to people with CIs and those considering them, but it feels so speculative to ask questions within a bubble of a community with such a range of experiences and backgrounds.

Before I attend the appointment, I will be drawing up a list of questions to ask the surgeon in order to help reassure me of any decisions made. From what I gather, this is the appointment where I get an official yes or no and the enormity of that is slowly sinking in. I have to think about the immediate implications for my job as a teacher and short term recovery as well as adapting to the CI. I had hoped, somewhat unrealistically and optimistically, that surgery cou…

Taking pictures of my insides

I had my CT and MRI scans yesterday. The experience was not as stressful as I thought it would be, and Peter came with me just so I didn't feel anxious about travelling and finding the correct place to be.

The CT scan was straight forward, in and out in 5 minutes or less but the MRI was another experience entirely. I had one when I was a child, or maybe I had a few as I was born with hydracephalus which required a pair of shunts to remove the excess fluid from my brain. I was nervous as I was irrationally convinced that the internal structure might have been left which, being metal, would have been unhelpful inside a large, noisy magnet. I was fine up to the point I had the head brace put over my face, but as I slid inside I was suddenly overcome by panic. It was the fact the top of the scanner was so low over me and the speed at which I was put inside so I squealed and whimpered pathetically and asked to be let out. The technician reassured me that any shunts would be programmabl…

More steps

Scans next Wednesday. Starting to feel very real. Was expecting the process to take almost a year but doesn't seem like that now.

Tiny steps

So, time for an update. I had the counselling and expectations appointment at the end of January which was really interesting. The hearing therapist went through all of the pre-operative steps of scans etc, the surgical information and recovery process. She went through the rehabilitation process, it seems very intensive with two weekly appointments in the initial few weeks to tune the programming. She then showed me a Medel CI, and detailed how it worked. At this point I queried whether the choice of all three would be available and she said that she would find out.

I had to do this questionnaire which she created, it had all sorts of questions about what I thought I might be able to do with a CI, and how I rated my present levels of hearing. It was reassuring to go through the process as I could ask the random questions I had on my mind, it also gave me an opportunity to demonstrate myself as a well informed candidate as I mentioned things I had learned from other people and online …