We arrived early for our check-in time of 11, so it was a good thing we brought books.
Immediately before the surgery the nurse brought us back to a pre-op room where they checked all Tate's vitals, got him cleaned and gowned, and we met with the OR nurses, the anesthesiologists (two - one was a resident), and the surgeon (and another doc in residence). All of them gave Tate really clear information and made sure to answer any questions he had. The only thing they FORGOT to do was have him go to the bathroom right before surgery. Tate started to get a bit
I can't tell you how good that was, from the mom's perspective, to see the maturity in him and the lack of anxiety. When they talked - as they must - about all the risks of surgery and anesthesia we kind of rolled our eyes. With a team like this, we joked that our risks were probably much higher driving into Seattle on I-5 than in surgery. But honestly, I truly believe that Tate's attitude - his confidence and lack of fear - has / is having a significant effect on the whole experience. More on that later.
Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper had arrived, and while Tate was in surgery we ran upstairs and I was able to connect with Tate's audiologist between patients and swap his malfunctioning HA. I had brought his old, insufficient HA to see if she could "tweak" it for him to use in the interim, but - hallelujah - she had found a loaner for him that's the same model as his regular HA and had already programmed it to his specs. He shouldn't notice any difference except that it's black instead of blue. ;D
By that time I was pretty hungry. Tate couldn't eat at all before surgery, and couldn't even have water after 8am, and I just didn't feel right about eating in front of him so I was glad to head up to the cafeteria, and really glad to have Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper (my parents) there waiting with me. Kerry would have come if I'd asked him, but it worked better to have him stay home with the other boys. I wouldn't have wanted to have them all sitting around the hospital, trying to keep occupied, for hours and hours. And Kerry really doesn't like hospitals, since his cancer. Anyway...
The surgery took a bit longer than expected, but ALL IS WELL. The surgeon - Dr. Horn - came and explained everything afterward. Where they go through the skull, into the cochlea, is really close to a nerve (or bundle of nerves?) that control facial muscles, and this space - in Tate - was a bit smaller than usual so they had to go more slowly. Great. No problema. Thank you for taking your time on my precious son!
His new audiologist (he'll have two - one for the HA and one for the CI) also came in. She had tested all the electrodes and done either an ABR or a test like the ABR right there in the OR. They got good response from the brain, and fifteen of the sixteen electrodes are working. I could tell she was prepared to reassure me that 15/16 is GOOD, but she didn't need to.
Thank you, Tammy, for posting the video about Harry's Implant (go see it HERE. Really, it'll only take a couple of minutes.) That boy, who is thirteen, like Tate, only had eight electrodes working for him, and he's AMAZING. Doing WONDERFULLY.
So when the Audie said we had 15/16, and maybe the 16th just had a bubble or something and might work later, she didn't have to convince me that this was a great result.
Meanwhile, Tate was off to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) and Uncle Dave arrived. :D We were all waiting for Tate when they wheeled him into his room, after 6pm.
He was still pretty groggy, but oriented and calm. In fact, he was able to transfer himself from the gurney to the bed without assistance. And he had a HUGE bandage on his head. He immediately requested WATER and drank about a quart. He was also interested in dinner, and ate about half of the chicken, roll, and potatoes and gravy they brought him.
It was kind of funny, in a way, because I'm sure he was remembering being in the hospital with appendicitis, when he was MISERABLE. That time, every movement hurt and he didn't want to eat. And this experience was so different. He'd catch himself "guarding" from pain, and then realize he wasn't really in pain.
He has had NO trouble with dizziness, nausea, or pain.
We've repeatedly asked him if he wants any pain meds and he shrugs and says he doesn't need anything. And his body language confirms. I've even repeated, I know you're tough, but you don't have to prove it by putting up with pain. If you are hurting, let me know. He says he feels sore, but is really okay.
His attitude is having a great and positive effect on his whole experience. It's amazing how much our emotions affect our physical well-being. Now, I don't mean to imply that anyone in pain is "failing" or having a bad attitude, or lacking faith, or whatever. Only that a good attitude and a lack of fear is a HUGE benefit :D
And it sure didn't hurt that Grandpa and Grandma brought presents! Some insulated camo overalls for hunting, and this stylish headwear! Since Tate couldn't exactly try it on, Grandpa consented to model ;D
Here's a better shot of the initial bandage, which he wore overnight. He had been making faces at us, proving that all his facial muscles were in working order ;D Also, if he looks a bit cock-eyed, it's because I removed one of the 'arms' from his glasses. (Thank you, Denise, for that great advice!) And, in case you're wondering, there was a bunch of Betadine on his gown (not blood).
The other kind of funny thing had to do with them not reminding him to use the bathroom before surgery. After he had some water and his dinner, suddenly he HAD TO PEE RIGHT NOW. And I was nervous about him jumping out of bed the first time without a nurse handy, just in case he actually was dizzy and didn't know it. And I'm glad she came running because once we got him unhooked from everything and into the bathroom (by himself) he just about filled that little urinal they use to measure 'output'.
I'd like to say we slept well, but that wouldn't be true. But at least he wasn't waking up in pain. Oh no... They were pumping IV fluids all night long, and I think he got up five times to pee - meaning I got up five times to unhook him from all his cords and monitors, and hook him up again, before I convinced the nurse that he was pretty darn well hydrated and we could turn that thing down ;D
In the morning they changed the dressing. You can see the top of the incision here, and the rest of it follows the curve of his ear, out of sight.
The doctors rounded, as promised, between 6:30 and 7am. They replaced the giant neon bandage with a smaller neoprene/velcro one, that he'll wear for a week, round the clock, and then for another week at night. The incision is clean and dry, but they want him to keep the pressure on it so fluid won't build up underneath. All righty.
Since Tate was doing so well - stable, not dizzy or nauseous, eating and drinking - they discharged us right away. He ate his breakfast, got dressed (I remembered to bring a shirt that didn't pull over his head - thanks again, Denise!), and we were headed home shortly after 9.
I can't believe that all happened in a little under twenty-four hours!
Now, of course, we wait. He needs to heal up before activation day, which is June 19. (For any of you non-HoH-aware readers, he has received the internal part of the cochlear implant, but won't hear anything until it's connected with the external processor.)
Also, a random thought for those of you with younger kiddos... On the one hand, some kids are too young to understand the whole process like Tate does. They're not old enough to make the decision themselves or to have the perspective that they're putting themselves through something unpleasant for a greater gain. But don't be discouraged! Little ones have an advantage over bigger kids and adults: they don't dread. They don't worry. They don't have fear and anxiety in advance.
Tate had two surgeries on his hands (bilateral tendon contracture releases), right after his first birthday and again at two and a half. Both times he was under general anesthesia. And he did great. He was too young to understand or worry before or after the fact. We just comforted him and managed his pain and he did fine.
I'm so relieved to see him continuing that pattern now! It's the grace of God, for sure.
So, next? He needs to really take it easy for two or three weeks. Especially he needs to avoid anything that would knock or jar his head. Essentially, he's on "light duty".
So... have I covered everything? Is there something you're wondering? I have Tate's permission to post this, and he'd probably be willing to answer questions if you have any :D
In the mean time, it's a great blessing to have so many friends and family on our team. We appreciate all the prayers and encouragement :D We still have a long journey ahead of us, but we're off to a great start!