and hopefully none to go….
So Friday was the fourth CI surgery we have had to sit through. Alice was implanted sequentially, two years apart, and then re-implanted in April owing to her N5 failure. Ollie was bilaterally implanted in one go, which is both efficient and maximises the chances of a positive, binaural outcome. Six hours is a long time to be without your baby though.
Thank you so much to everyone for their kind messages of support, both through the blog and the Facebook group. Indeed, thank you too to all our friends and family for so much help, love and support over these past few days and weeks. We couldn’t have got through it without you all.
Ollie went into surgery at about 11 am on Friday. I will never find it easy watching one of our babies being anaesthetised and then having to leave them in a room of virtual strangers. We just keep telling ourselves we are doing the right thing and hope the end comes round quickly.
As I have said before, St. George’s Hospital is not the easiest place in which to kill an hour, let alone six of them, but ‘fortunately’ we had the distraction of Alice’s switch-on to pass a few hours away. The switch-on went well and Alice – thank God – is now hearing through two ears again. It will take a few weeks to get her map fully up to scratch, but we can already see the difference. For what it is worth, we have also changed her coils and coil cables to be brown which means you can hardly see them. The smallest things make us and Alice happy.
At six O’clock we collected Ollie who was just sitting in his bed with Mr Bunny (his favourite cuddly toy) waiting for us to arrive. Cross and grumpy, but happy to see us nonetheless. What a little star.
For the benefit of those who haven’t been through this; CI surgery is relatively invasive, insomuch as it involves drilling through the Mastoid part of the temporal bone (the bit behind the ear in the skull), but any decent surgeon makes the incision behind the ear, so no hair is shaved, the wound heals quickly and, cosmetically, there are no lasting effects. Whilst it takes time – the surgery is fiddly and precise – it is not as scary as some people think. It is not ‘brain surgery’ as I have heard it described and is pretty bloodless. The bandages are wrapped around the head to compress the surgical site to limit swelling. Normally these would be removed completely within 24 hours (unless the swelling is too great) and in some countries, CI surgeries are done in day surgery. You can also see in the photo above some small dots over Ollie’s face. These are the sites where electrodes are placed to monitor the facial nerve. CI surgery comes very close (within about 1 mm I am told) of the facial nerve, so an alarm is attached that detects any encroachment on the nerve so there is no damage. These little pin-pricks heal within a few days.
The surgery was ‘textbook’ to quote Dr. David (one day I’ll start calling him by his proper name – Mr. Selvadurai – but Alice prefers ‘Dr. David) with full insertions on both sides. All the electrodes were fired up in testing and the auditory nerve is being stimulated. So far so good!
Ollie spent the night at St. Georges with Mummy. It’s about the only time I’ve found a plus-side to our children being deaf – that they can sleep through anything. All-night comings and goings: drugs rounds and new admissions are not conducive to good rest. By the next morning the bandages were off and Ollie was coming home where he is now doing just fine and recovering really well. Like Alice before him, he has stunned us with his resilience. Barely a moan from him. To put it in context, I can be in a bad mood for a week if I so much as stub my toe.
Three weeks until switch on…………..gulp.