On Tuesday 6th of March this year 2018 my sister Judy will accompany me as we fly to Auckland where I will be admitted to a ward at Auckland City Hospital. That afternoon we will meet with the surgical team to talk over the procedure for surgery being performed on me the next day.
After much thought almost 4 years ago when the opportunity was offered to me to have another hearing implant, in spite of the potential risks I decided to go ahead with it. The hearing implant is called an ABI - standing for Audio Bypass Implant.
The Cochlea implant I currently have on my right ear is connected to my audio nerve, the Audio bypass implant will bypass the audio nerve and go directly into my brain stem.
This is the first time this implant is being used on a deaf blind person but there are real possibilities for improved hearing from what I currently have through my CI.
One of the surgeons who will be part of the surgical team has been brought across from Germany as he is a specialist in this area.
I am preparing to have an MRI scan this coming week in readiness for the upcoming surgery, as I have a CI a great deal of care is need and my head will need to be strapped in a special way to prevent pressure on the implant magnet inside my head once I am placed into the MRI scanner. If I have any pain I will need to press the buzzer to alert the technicians to stop the scan as damage could occur to my current CI implanted magnet.
Once surgery is completed on the Wednesday, I will spend a day or two in the high dependency ward before being moved to a general ward for up to another five days depending on how quickly I recover.
I will return again to Auckland City Hospital in April to have the implant switched on then the mapping journey begins. Mapping requires being connected to a laptop with an Audiologist working through the range of channels and high and low pitches to create a map. In the early days maps are done every few weeks as big changes occur in the early stages and then the mapping gets further apart. Mapping will take place in the Wellington clinic.
I will have my iPhone and Smart Beetle with me while in Auckland so I can send and receive txt and email messages plus post an up date depending on how I am feeling.
Thank you to those that have passed on kind thoughts for this next challenge and for lifting my case heavenward that the Master will give great skill to the surgical team.
Details from Dr Michele Neeff re surgery:
It will be a shared procedure between neuro-otologists (myself) and neurosurgeons including Prof Behr. you will have an incision behind the ear and a small plate of bone would have to be removed to gain access to the lower part of the brain, the cerebellum and brainstem. There is a small opening within the brainstem close to the hearing nerve which allows an implant electrode to be placed. By going through this opening we gain close access to an important relay station of the hearing pathway, the cochlear nucleus. the accurate position of the electrode will be tested intraoperatively and our audiologists will guide us to the final position by performing hearing measurements. once we are happy the outside part of the implant will be screwed into position, similar to the cochlear implant you have got. The incision will be sutured and a bandage applied. You will be transferred to the high dependency unit on the neurosurgical ward for recovery. You should be able to return to the normal ward within one or two days. Your final day of discharge will depend on the speed of your recovery.
We will use the processor for the first time after about one month when the switch on will be performed at Auckland Hospital. You will then learn to hear with the brainstem implant.
I have not reviewed your latest scans but anticipate that your current implant will stay and we will take the other side for the brainstem implant.