Cochlear Implant operation

I’m now deaf and so am having a Cochlear Implant installed in my right ear

In November 2018 I went trail running as I often do.
While out running, I slipped / tripped and fell over. Feeling a weirdish pain I knew straight away that I had probably fractured something in my left ankle.

Later in the evening direction the local AE for a check up and a X-ray. As there wasn’t a specialist in the hospital that night, they just strapped my ankle and told me to come back the next day

Two days later I saw the specialist at the same hospital and he like the doctor the night before just strapped my ankle and suggested blood thinners as I wouldn’t be able to move the leg correctly for a couple of months.

I also went and saw my own doctor who after looking at the X-ray was certain that its wasn’t just a sprain but a fractured Maléole / Melleolus which they hadn’t even seen or suspected at the hospital, and so he suggested that I get an Scanner done.

This was Thursday, during Thursday night I started have some important Acouphenes / Tinnitus in the right ear and so the next day I rang the hospital to ask if the blood thinners have any side effects on my hearing, they said that they weren’t  / couldn’t answer question and told me to ring the 15 (emergency service) and ask the same question, which I did, They informed me that no. No side effects but told me that Saturday (the next day) there was a ORL (specialist for ears) would be on standby at my local hospital and that I should go and see her. (all the doctors then and later stated that the blood thinners had nothing to do with my loss, all I know is that when I started taking them the Acouphenes / Tinnitus started in the right ear and my hearing died on me. I don’t believe in coincidences, and I wasn’t taking any other treatments)

So Saturday at the AE , saw the doctor almost straight away, we realised that my right ear had already badly degraded as I was having a hard time understanding her

For info my left ear has been in bad shape for over three years now, it has about a 50% loss, and almost no comprehension at all to people speaking, so its my right ear that has been doing all the work for years now. I have now upgraded my hearing aid to a ReSound Enso 3D model for the left ear

Anyway the specialist asked me to come back Monday for a audiogram and more tests, no treatment was given

Monday back to the hospital this time with a friend as I couldn’t walk correctly with the leg strapped up and couldn’t understand what was being said to me, the problem was that in those last three days my hearing in the right ear had gone from normal to totally deaf, I could hear almost nothing at all, later an audiogram showed a loss of 90db, which is about 90%

They suggested that I have some scanners done, so scanner of my ear and at the same time for my ankle

My local hospital then said that were totally incapable of understanding of why or doing anything for me and asked me to go and see the hospital Salpetiere a Paris as it seemed already likely that I would need some special treatment or an implant cochlear and that they were the best in the region.

Direction Paris , with my wife, direction, the ORL (French for ears, throats etc) department, a little wait but to be honest it was quick, after seeing a specialist and was checked over they told me I would need to stay and so I was checked in to a hospital room, and started loads of checkups for the following seven days.

Basically during my stay, I had big doses of cortisone by intravenous everyday and injections directly in to my tympan / ear-drum (very uncomfortable), to try to bring back my hearing, also IRM and more Scanners etc etc

Sadly nothing worked, my hearing was totally shot in the right ear, and with the left ear unable to understand even though it could hear, life had suddenly become very complicated

Over the coming weeks I had tests done at Salpetiere and was finally given the Ok for an implant cochlear as nothing had worked to recuperate my hearing loss in the right ear, I was over 90db loss which is basically a 90% loss

After a week in hospital and a couple of weeks at home, with some visits between, I was finally was given a date for an operation to receive a Cochlear Implant, the date was set for the 18th of February 2019

As the operation was meant to be early in the morning, I was hospitalised the 17th evening, but arriving at the hospital I was told that the operation would be early afternoon rather than the morning.

The day came, no breakfast of course, so I waited patiently in my room until they came and got me just before 1 pm.
I walked with a nurse to the operating theatre, was introduced to the nurses, jumped up on the operating table and off I went to sleep

About three hours or more (the operation takes between two to three hours, though I have not learn’t how long it actually took) later I awoke in the salle de reveil / recovery room, not having a watch I had no idea of the time, extremely groggy they kept me there for several more hours and I was finally wheeled to my room around 7 pm if I remember rightly

My head hurt, and had a nice big headache, but was hungry and around an hour later I was able to eat dinner, oh yes !!!

You come out of the theatre with a bandage that’s is very tight around the head , but other that that no outward signs, but boy does your head hurt

After dinner I even walked around the ward a little, though was suffering from a slight dizziness

The night was uncomfortable, you cannot sleep on the side that you were operated on as it’s painful, even on your back isn’t top either, and of course you have a drip in your arm that always seems to get in the way

Managed to eat breakfast, though had a nice banging headache (which basically lasted for about two weeks). after breakfast they took of the bandage, what a relieve, and then I had a scanner to see if all was correct inside of my head and then around 11 am was able to leave the hospital , direction home by taxi

Arrived home to see my wife and sit down for a meal, this actually didn’t go down well, was more and more dizzy, and at the same time the stomach was playing up, this apparently is the after effects of the anaesthesia and especially when being operated on the ears

For the next two weeks I basically went from headache to headache, your head not only hurts but it’s all ‘stuffed’ up, like when when you git a sticking hangover, I only took paracetamols and I don’t like taking stronger stuff, the stomach also played up for well a over a week, and the dizziness was quite often, so basically for around two weeks you do nothing

A control visit at the hospital and to take of the plasters that were covering the wound, all is extremely clean and shown in photos. I was starting to feel more normal like after this time, though still stomach and dizziness were playing up

It’s switch on day, a two hour meeting at the hospital to fit and switch on the implant. The rendez-vous was at 4 pm and set for two hours. I didn’t know what to expect although and having read up a little. I knew that basically today’s meeting was to switch it on, and do a sort of special audiogram test, the following rendez-vous , once every month for almost a year would be to adjust the settings
The settings are a bit like an audiogram. You tell the Dr when you can first hear the bip and when the bip is comfortable without being too loud, and this for me was 22 times as the modal I have has 22 contacts

After the settings were finished now came the the moment to see what would happen, she switched on the implant.

I’ve read many reports from different people about this, most said that they could hear noises but could make out or understand voices. Well I was lucky, this maybe due to the fact that I had only lost my hearing 5 months ago, as straight away I could understand the Dr when she spoke to me

Now get me wrong, it wasn’t at all like a real normal voice, it was like a child who had just breathed some helium gas very childish, very tinny, but I could understand most things being said though I had to concentrate. Running the normal tests that’s I’ve been doing every week with my orthophoniste / speech therapist, showed us that there was a big improvement, when tested, words and phrases with her lips being hidden behind a sheet of paper, most I could understand, a week before it was basically I couldn’t understand anything, so a big improvement

The rendez-vous was finished for the day having taken just over two hours, the Dr said that the sounds should change as my ear or rather as my brain got used to the implant, but after three weeks, it isn’t really any different, voices are still really strange, even tiring after a while, but I can understand a lot more than before

I am now waiting the beginning of April for my first real réglages rather than just the on /off , and hopefully we’ll be able to get the voices to sound a little more real

I can still not understand the TV, Telephone,radio or music, even sitting at home quietly with just the Hi-Fi I cannot make out what song is playing, its a wait and see game for now

About a week later, I slowly started working out at the gym again, as I was allowed, though very slowly as I’ve not be doing any sport since breaking the ankle, and I’m 61 and five months and no sports takes it’s toll.

The right side of my head still hurts a little though I’ve stopped taking pain killers for about 10 / 15 days now.

Still not really able to sleep on the right side, it’s still quite tender and behind the ear its tender as well and the Nucleus 7 rubs against the skin ……

It’s design is rather ‘square’ behind the ear and not 100% comfortable, no where near as good as the ReSound Enso 3D that I wear in the left ear, although both are made by the same mother company, the ReSound is far better suited to being worn behind the ear

Saw my Osteopath today, Skull, Jaw and Cervicals all out of place, that’s probably due to the way you are manipulated on the operating table, so after having these all nicely put back in place I have already noticed less dizzy spells this morning though not all gone yet

So for the moment, I can hear and understand most of what is said to me in a one to one situation, at dinner party’s , restaurants, its very complicated. TV, Radio, Telephone is still a no no. The ear even after a month since the operation is still tender, and still have slight dizzy spells (basically when you turn your head, ex : I’m writing this on one screen while play on another screen)

Next step will be the first real settings to the implant, beginning April, I’m hoping that they will be able to get rid of the tininess in voices and make them sound more real, therefore making them easier to understand.
The first two weeks after the operation are horrible, but time makes it better

30 April 2019

I’ve now had two rendez-vous for adjustments, the robotic / tinniness / helium children’s voices is basically the same, sometimes making it a pain to listen to at the end of the day…

Basically listening and talking to people is only possible as a one to one basis, as soon as there are more than a few people I can’t understand what they are saying and more that a meter away is basically impossible as well

Television is still impossible, music as well, impossible to make out / understand the instruments and voices. I can play on my hi-fi a David Bowie song or U2 and not know which one it is.

I have and and can stream the TV directly into the implant bypassing the microphones, it’s better though still difficult to understand but when if my wife talks to me I have to turn it off, as both at the same time is impossible (TV streamer by Cochlear)

On the bright side is I am able to communicate, which makes my wife happy, it’s easier on her

When I say communicate , again this is on a one to one basis, speaking with the person in front or next to me, when there are many then it’s difficult, or when then is a lot of background noise, like in a restaurant, again its difficult

I’ve started most of my sports, biking, swimming, gym and crossfit. I don’t wear the implant for these, not really needing it, when someone talks to me, at the gym or crossfit for example either I plug myself in for a couple of seconds or I miss the conversation……

15 May 2019

I had now about 3 or 4 settings updates at the hospital, they don’t really change much, basically they just test the minimum level that you can hear and the maximum level that is comfortable for you

I seem to be lucky in the fact that I understood straight away from receiving the implant , certain personnel apparently takes months or even longer

Sounds or rather voices are still very ‘high’ , ‘tinny/robotic’ or like Tic and Tac the cartoon on the TV when my kids were young, or again like someone who has breathed helium gas. This is tiring in a way, you hear your own voice and think how stupid I must sound too others , though of course they hear you normally, and at the end of the day, sometimes its nice just to unplug myself and have some quiet.

5 Juin 2019

I made my first real telephone call today, to a bike shop in England as ordering a new bike …, Firstly I tried with just the implant, this was as I expected rather difficult, basically because of the lack of ‘bandwidth’ with the implant, there is not enough bass, and as always too tinny. Then I added my left ear ReSound hearing aid (as they can work together), now this was much better, as I get the ‘volume’, more ‘bandwidth’ making the telephone call far easier to understand, It’s not perfect but I was ably do talk and mostly understand. For info its the same when I stream the TV, though when I stream the TV I can’t hear / understand my wife. (Now is that good or bad ……)

Some photos