On my way home from the hospital, I watched the city goers during rush hour. I felt like I was in a bubble in my new world, slowed right down while the outside world looked like someone pressed the fast forward button. People were walking so fast, car horns blaring, trains passing every time I blinked, the rush was almost overwhelming. It really did make me think about how fast we live our lives in this city. It was at that moment I decided to be more mindful in my day to day life when I got back to full health.
I decided before my operation to have a list of things to do during the recovery time to keep my mind “busy”. I laid out my yoga mat and made my own studio space at home which was fun. I had some home comforts like books, recipe magazines, positive quotes, my notebooks for writing, Netflix and new PJ’s! Sounds more like one extended pyjama party!
“Welcome to the Cyborg Club” was the lovely card greeting into from my friend who was implanted about 6 months ago. We met a week after my operation, hugged and made jokes about having computer chips in our heads!
Day 2 Post Operation
To be honest the recovery was only bad for a few days. Most of the time I felt off balance, constant tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and had headaches. The rest of the month it’s about building the energy levels up again as the surgery can knock you back quite a bit. Prior to the operation I was running on a regular basis to just managing a 10 minute walk linking arms with mum 2 days post op. For about a week it was like going back and forth from being tipsy (vertigo) to feeling hungover. You have to concentrate on walking especially in the morning otherwise going too fast or quickly bending down sends you spinning!
Marta my nurse on the ward at the time reassured me that recovery nowadays is quicker than before. She explained to us how the surgery used to be much longer (5 hours), more invasive, half your hair was shaved and the incision was larger. Nowadays the scarring is minimal, stitches are dissolvable, very little hair is shaved off and the operation is quicker (1-2hours).
Wearing just my left hearing-aid wasn’t as bad as I had expected. I used to have so little patience for it as it was my worse ear. Somehow I was hearing ok, perhaps the brain just knew it had to adapt. I started to use my listening device (Roger Pen) when in public places again like cafes or restaurants. It really helped on a one-to-one basis.
1 week Post Operation
I focused on having small strategies in place and planning ahead my acoustic situations so as to avoid putting myself under too much pressure to communicate such as meeting friends individually in a quiet park, at home or in really quiet cafes (a dilemma to find in london!) I kept a list on my phone of quiet places in london.. so far there’s 8 and I started this list in 2010! Other things I found helpful; videos of the “Switch On” which is when the cochlear implant is activated and mat-based yoga poses rather than standing due to balance problems. I drew out a bunch of stick men in my notebook like this picture!
I met up with 2 of my friends who were implanted recently and asked them lots of questions. Having their support along my new journey has been absolutely invaluable. I would advise anyone going for a CI to buddy up with someone who has been through it all. They are the ones that truly understand and can prepare you get in a positive mind-set for beforehand.
Lastly, it’s important to eat well and build back fitness into your day. I started with a 10minute walk the first few days then increased it slowly. You need to be nourished too, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthily to keep up your energy levels. Your brain is burning up lots of energy making new nerve connections so make sure to have plently of healthy fats, lean protein, fibre to prevent constipation, fruits and vegetables for vitamin C and Selenium (wound healing).
If you would like to keep reading on. Stay posted for my next blog on “The first Sounds” for when my cochlear implant becomes activated!