Friday, July 12, 2013

Bionic ear

In the lovely, comfy PJs my dear friends
 Catherine and Kristin bought me
 for my last surgery!
Facebook status by my wonderful husband-nurse this afternoon:
Nurse Mike has just brought Marie from surgery, and for some bed rest and peace and quiet.
For those of you who are medically inquisitive, the surgeon gave her a glowing report. No sign of cholesteatoma, and she now has a bionic ear (with new ear bones made of titanium.) Best news of all, he thinks this is the end of all her surgeries.
Now, if anyone can come over and fix her a sound-proof room, we'd be forever in your debt.
Thanks, all, for the messages of support, the positive thoughts, and the prayers. They have kept us afloat.
Yesterday I learned that my ear surgery had been moved to an earlier time slot--8:45, which meant we had to arrive by 6:45 and get up by 5:45. Everyone told me that having the first surgery of the day is a very good thing, even though I'm not a morning person.

Last night Mike took the little ones over to my parents' house because of the early rising, and I spent the evening cleaning our bedroom and preparing for recovery. Chris called me late last night from the Yakama Nation in Washington, where he's been all week on a church mission trip. It made me cry, of course, because I thought it was so sweet--I get a bit emotional before surgery, especially when people are expressing their concern for me.

I had the surgery at the Cornell Surgery Center, where I had my first ear surgery last August. I highly recommend this outpatient surgery center. My surgeon prefers it because he knows the staff there and has confidence they will all be good. I agree--strange as it sounds, it actually can be comforting being taken care of when I am preparing for or recovering from surgery--the staff at this center are excellent. I was especially grateful that it took only one jab for the nurse to get my IV in! (Last December it took a hospital phlebotomist six times to get an IV in, and she left me with several hematomas...even though I was not dehydrated because of no food/water like I was this morning!) Also, the nurse-anesthetist told me she'd be using a fancy new type of breathing tube (can't remember the name--sorry, narcotics brain!) because of my weird anesthesia reactions (it's not always as effective as it should be).

My amazing pastor/friend came this morning to pray with me and Mike, which of course made me cry, but made me feel so comforted and loved. When they walked in to my prep room, I told Mike the good news that I wasn't pregnant, just in case he was wondering. :) (I had to take a pregnancy test!! Haha.) My surgeon came in to talk with us in his orange polo shirt and jeans (looking so much younger that way, even though he's my age!), and he said he'd discussed my complicated case with several other surgeons, including the brain surgeon who he co-operated with in December. 

He said he had an epiphany on Saturday and was going to try using an arthroscope (microscope for shoulder surgeries) to try to see the part of my ear that he couldn't see before (to make sure there was no remaining cholesteatoma). He also said he would try to avoid having to leave my mastoid cavity open, which would make my ear less prone to complications later on. For example, with an open mastoid cavity, one has to avoid getting water in the ear...and it's also more difficult to rebuild the bones in the ear. 

Mike and I reacted in different ways to his ponderings...he thought the doctor should have called me earlier to explain what he was thinking (he does not like what he feels is last-minute information). As for me, I felt fine about this conversation. I was glad to know that he had been mulling over what to do. I also realize that surgeons often have to make decisions on the fly when they see the situation. And most important, he used my favorite word, epiphany (read why I like it here). In fact, back in January, Laurie (my pastor) asked me what word I would choose for the upcoming year, and I named that word. So I felt this was a good omen for the surgery. And I trusted my surgeon to make the best decision for my health and do whatever he could to restore my hearing.

They took good care of me, the surgery went well, and now I'm sporting this lovely bandage across my head and over my ear for the next day or two. I have packing in my ear so I won't be able to hear well out of it until the packing is removed...I'm really curious to see what kind of improvement the bionic titanium ear bone brings!

Chris also returned from mission trip this afternoon. He had a good time and learned a lot about the Yakama tribe, which runs the program, and Native-American cultures. He told me last night that he is feeling angry at the country for the way the Native-Americans were treated. He worked and played hard, and similar to how I felt as a young person coming back from a spiritual, bonding retreat, he's feeling a bit downbeat. It's hard to come down from the mountain! (It doesn't help that his iPod Touch broke, either.) I know he'll be recovered by tomorrow.

Kieran and Nicholas were cautious around me at first. Kieran presented me with a four-leaf clover he had found (he has a knack!), and Nicholas began by speaking in sign language/mime and then having Mike write down what he wanted to say. It wasn't long, though, before his boisterous self came back and I had to ask him to be quieter. He's spending another night with my parents tonight. We find that the younger two are much noisier when they are together! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I'm taking oxycodone, probably for the next couple of weeks, and it seems to be keeping the pain mostly under control. It hurts, but it's not unbearable thanks to the pain meds (not looking forward to having to wake up every four hours to take medicine tonight, but I believe in staying ahead of the pain). I'm a little unsteady on my feet, and my short-term memory is shot (I'm coherent on oxycodone but often repeat myself! I often repeat myself!)...but I seem to be doing reasonably well for my first day of recovery. I plan to veg out in bed watching movies and TV for the next four or five days, and then start working part-time from home on Wednesday. Don't want to use too much of my vacation up, you know!

Once again, I feel buoyed along by the overwhelming support coming from as far away as the east coast, Canada, Europe, Japan, the Middle East, and Australia; positive thoughts and energy; texts, e-mails, and Facebook messages; and powerful prayers. At least three people also told me that they would light candles for me this morning. I feel truly blessed (my other favorite word). I have the best village in the world, and I love you all! Keep 'em coming!


  1. So glad to hear the surgery went well and you're back blogging so soon! You continue to amaze me. Enjoy your healing time and take it easy!

    All the best,

  2. I'm really glad to learn that all went well. I've been thinking about you!