Saturday, 10 November 2012


I was diagnosed with otosclerosis some years ago.  In April I had a CT scan to check out the diagnosis once and for all.  Last month I finally saw the consultant whose care I've been under for around a decade of hearing tests at the ENT clinic.  He said I was an excellent candidate for a stapedectomy, which means that my faulty stapes bone that wasn't allowing my hearing to reach its capacity would be replaced by an artificial one.  Adriano's reaction: "Wow, a cyborg wife!"

I was put on the waiting list and expected to hear a date in a few months.  But only about 10 days ago I got a call saying would I like to come in for the operation on Thursday 8th November.  My main problem was that after the op you are not allowed to lift for at least 2 weeks.  I lift C all the time: in and out of the pushchair, into her highchair, cot, bath, etc.  She weighs about 25lbs now.  Occasionally I still lift G too, who is around 2st 9lbs.  Miraculously Adriano's work said he could take the time off to look after me and the girls.

My hearing loss from otosclerosis has gone from 'mild' to 'moderate' over the last decade.  I have it in both ears; my right ear slightly worse.  Before I saw the consultant recently, it had been suggested by other ENT professionals that I try a) putting up with it for now, b) trying hearing aids and c) considering the stapedectomy surgery.  In other words, they all completely disagreed on what my best course of action should be.  I did some research on the surgery a while back and decided that I was probably too scared of the risks to go through with it, and besides how on earth would I look after the kids during the recovery...I would wait until my hearing was REALLY bad before going for it.  The risks include some facial paralysis, increased tinnitus, permanent dizziness, and ironically reduction or complete loss of hearing in the operated-on ear.  However when I saw the consultant a couple of weeks ago, he was so simultaneously calming and enthusiastic about the idea of operating to improve my hearing that I got swept along with it and agreed.

So on Thursday, in spite of niggling doubts, I left Adriano and the girls tucked up in bed, and caught the bus to the hospital in the dark at 6am, starving hungry because of my empty stomach ready for the anaesthetic.

I have never had a general anaesthetic before so I was a bit nervous about it, but far more nervous about the risks of the operation.  Would the surgery be worth it?  I was really pleased that the consultant popped in to say hi and glance over my notes again as he went through the ward on the way to the operating theatre.

The doctor who went over the risks with me had such a quiet voice, and I had to ask her to repeat herself at times.  I find it very strange that some people are not aware of speaking up when they know that the reason you're there at all is because you can't hear much.  So frustrating, and on a good day I see the black comedy in it too.  But it wears pretty thin after all these years.

I haven't slept well for a long time so a part of me was almost looking forward to being knocked out...
The only bit I really didn't like was when the oxygen mask was put on my face, because it seemed a bit small and I felt claustrophobic. Before I could stop myself I had shoved it off, saying 'It's horrible!'.  But they said I didn't have to have it, and just held it near my face instead.  Everyone was very kind.

Then I woke up and it was over.  I know I had been dreaming, but it was just like normal sleep where you can't remember exactly what the dreams were when you try to put them into words.   I gradually became more awake.  I was relieved to find that my facial muscles were all fine, and I didn't feel nauseous.  After about 5 or 10 minutes my hunger kicked in again.  I didn't move much because I sensed that I was pretty dizzy, but other than that I felt OK.

I was wheeled back to the ward, and my blood pressure was rather low so I was given 4 glasses of water to drink.  At last I got some food, it was pretty gross hospital sandwiches but I wolfed them down.  I noticed that my taste sensation at the back of my tongue on the surgery side was altered, as though I had burnt my tongue but without the pain.  The rest of my mouth could taste everything though so it wasn't too bad.

After a while my blood pressure was much improved and I was able to slowly shuffle to the toilet.  I couldn't hear a thing from my right ear because of the packing inside.

A couple of hours later Adriano and the girls came to collect me and took me home.  I went straight to bed and took some painkillers which by now were needed.  They worked just fine.  I rested as best I could for the rest of the day (bit tricky when the girls woke in the night but that's another story).  Felt a bit teary in the evening but it's been a big day and we have a lot of other stuff going on right now so not surprising.

Still on painkillers but the pain has definitely lessened overall.  Still a bit dizzy but nothing too scary.  Feeling very lopsided as of course I can only hear from my left ear, and the hearing in that is not great.  As a result I feel in a bit of a bubble.  It's not nice when I talk as it's louder inside my head which is disorientating.  Don't know which direction sounds are coming from.  Have been told not to lie on my right side and am missing it as that was my preferred side.  Am reading lots.  Loving seeing and cuddling the girls but finding it very wearying when I'm being crawled on, especially as I'm not supposed to lift/push their weight in any way.  Adriano being very lovely and supplying me with food and drink.  Managed a short bath which was great. Changed the cotton wool in my outer ear - dried blood and iodine on it.  By the evening my mild tinnitus (which I had before surgery too) has increased a bit and has me worried.  Think I am probably very tired still so went to bed early. 

Tinnitus still pretty loud and it's not nice.  Dizziness not too bad, it comes and goes, and reminds me to take it easy.  Feel a bit delicate.  Adriano has taken the girls to his dad's birthday meal so all is quiet in the house.  I manage to make myself some lunch and even walk to the shop for a paper although I feel very vulnerable because I look perfectly normal but can't hear anything anyone says to me.  Glad of the fresh air but also glad to get home and go back to bed.  On my 4th book now.  So far have read Lucy Dillon 'The Secret of Happy Ever After', finished Sarah Waters 'The Night Watch' which I had been in the middle of, and whizzed through Barbara Trapido 'The Travelling Hornplayer' which I haven't read for years and is brilliant.  About to start Christopher Ross 'Tunnel Visions'.
Feel so horrible not being able to hear, am hoping it's just due to the post-op swelling and the packing.  At the moment feel as if I would settle for just having my old hearing back.  Have no idea if the op went as planned, as I wasn't able to see the consultant after the op.  Have to wait until the 19th - 9 days from today - to have packing removed.
Bloody ears.  Why couldn't they have just worked properly in the first place?  Hair now could do with a wash but am not going to do it just yet.  Might in a few days with vaseline/clingfilm in place...

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