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-forward,' it means that my sub-optimal cochlea means 1 - increased chance of CSF leakage but they weren't too concerned, apparently you just plug it up.... meningitis? Pff! 2 - Increased chance of sub-optimal outcome owing to my sub-optimal cochlea.

And then it continued to go downhill. The surgeon needs to implant a specially made, custom electrode array so they have researched and only Medel or Cochlear have such electrodes, and furthermore, only Medel can create an unique, custom built electrode. So no Advanced Bionics for me. I know, I sound very downbeat. It's just that for the past 4 years I have been dreaming of getting an AB implant for various reasons so I'm having to rethink everything and it's further complicated by my stupid cochlea.

But reader, I signed on the dotted line. I consented to surgery in spite of the potential for sub-optimal possibilities because really, what choice do I have? It's better than a hearing aid and both the head of the clinic and the surgical consultant were optimistic about my suitability as a candidate. They both were very adamant in stressing that the biggest predictor of post-operative success is individual adaptation to, and practice with the device, and that I had the ability to persevere. I am officially on the surgical list but can only go on the cancellations list once my chosen electrode array is in the hospital. The surgical wait list is 3-6 months and the cancellations list involves being called in at short notice.

I emailed today as I had further questions.

1 - Does a malformed cochlea mean that there will be difficulties in actually inserting an electrode array?
2 - Will my previous hydracephalus surgeries have any bearing on surgery? I have two dents in my skull and I have visions of my skull caving in... gross, I know. Aren't I a perky optimist?
3 - When will I hear about pre-operative dates?

Answers were received and I have been invited back to discuss the whole, blob shaped, situation in further detail with the surgeon. I can hardly wait.

I'm sure I'll be super excited soon, but at the moment I feel blindsided.


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