Two Year Anniversary of the Surgery

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years, as it seems longer. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, highs and lows, and regaining skills. For over a year I struggled on my own to cope with my wildly changing emotions. It ranged from depression, regret, awe, joy, worry, and occasionally confidence and surety that I’d made the right decision.

There were a lot of frustrations with family and friends not understanding my needs, or that I had a long road ahead. Once I resumed writing last fall, that started to make a difference, and I have learned it has helped others like me as well.

I also wasn’t sure how much progress I was making. My one year post activation booth test was disheartening. Then I had an opportunity to participate in an auditory verbal therapy study. I turned the corner soon after and began making better progress. My toddler was developing his own speech at that time so it became a benefit to us both. I used my developing listening and hearing skills to pick out new words and sounds he was attempting which allowed me to reinforce his efforts. We both still have a ways to go, but I am pleased with our progress so far.

I received my hearing aid back from repairs and once I acclimated to hearing in the left ear again after a year of no sound, I began training that ear as well. While I cannot pick up high frequency speech sounds with the hearing aid as I do with the cochlear implant, I still noticed an improvement.

I was recently asked about my perspective on having the cochlear implant, and the pros and cons to it by a friend’s daughter for a college essay. It’s different for everyone, but the majority of us experience the same roller coaster ride of emotions leading to the surgery and the months after. Keeping one expectations realistic is important, but difficult, since we basically want to go from zero to sixty PRONTO. The biggest con is the time it takes to achieve the goals we set by getting the implant. How much time it takes is dependent on a variety of factors like previous hearing history of that ear, the rehabilitation we do (if at all), the support we have or lack thereof from family, friends and even the professionals we work with during this time. The biggest pro is the gains in sounds, speech comprehension and quality of life.

So although I still have a lot of work ahead of me, I have finally gotten to the point where I know that I made the right decision for myself. So to anyone reading this, wondering whether it’s worth the highs and lows, the trials to get the cochlear implant, my answer is: YES, IT ABSOLUTELY IS WORTH IT.

So here’s to another year, and next month’s two year activation anniversary. Maybe by next April 2015 I will be confidently using the phone as I once did as a teenager.

Time Flies

Two years ago today I was preparing for my surgery and utterly petrified. My parents and brother in law were coming to help with my son who was nine months old. We had just transferred him to the crib in his room to get him used to his own space. He is now almost three months away from his third birthday and growing up too quickly for us. My hopes two years ago were that the surgery was successful, with no problems and that my recovery would be relatively uneventful.

That night though, my thoughts were turbulent, and full of fear and doubts. What if something wrong? What if the implant didn’t work at activation? What if I didn’t gain the hearing that I wanted and needed? What if….. What if… What…. What… I don’t know if I can do this… Maybe I should wait.. I’m not ready.. Am I doing the right thing? After over a year of waiting the last night was agony and endlessly long. I slept, but it wasn’t quality sleep.

So today, on the Eve of my two year surgery date, my thoughts drift to the memories of that day, and night as I prepared. During the day it was easy to hold my fears at bay, because I was busy cleaning, preparing for my parents to stay, and for my brother in law. Ensuring there was food, instructions on the care of my son, and spending as much time with him as I could, trying not to stress over the knowledge he wouldn’t see much of me for the first week as I recovered.

The feelings I had that day are normal for anyone undergoing major surgery, and a life changing one at that. I had so much support leading up to the surgery and after, that I was overwhelmed by it. Friends and family cheered me on, validated my feelings and offered cyber-hugs which comforted me as I read the messages.

So as I gather my thoughts together for writing my two year anniversary post tomorrow, it is hard not to feel emotional as I think back to that week.

Asbestos Awareness Week

This week is Asbestos Awareness Week, and I realize it is an unusual post to make for my blog. However it is an issue that needs bringing up. I have a friend who personally may be experiencing seizures as a result of exposure to asbestos. Others in the United States have experienced cancer and other serious illnesses, so I feel it is important to make note of this week and bring a story to you.

One woman, Heather St. James is making it her mission to spread the word, and here is her story:

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare and deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. I had just given birth to our daughter Lily, and was only given 15 months to live. After a life saving surgery that included the removal of my left lung, I made it my life’s mission to educate people about this deadly disease and it’s cause.

Asbestos Awareness Week is April 1-7th 2014. Asbestos has been used for many applications in the past including building materials in homes, office buildings, and naval ships. It is STILL not banned in the United States today.

This year, I am asking bloggers to participate and spread the word about Asbestos Awareness Week by being a Voice for the Victims. You can find my awareness page here: http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness/

So spread the word please!