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Cochlear implantation - Part 1 of 2
It ended up being just 9 days between Oli’s testing and the operation. If I think back to that time, it really was a complete blur.
We had started our journey at The Hearing Institute but because we had moved ENT’s and decided to go with the Cochlear brand we had to find a new audiologist. This was a very emotionally difficult decision. Not easy at all.
Julie, our audiologist at The Hearing Institute, had been with us from the beginning.
Tamara, our new audiologist, was recommended by an old client of mine. I had only spoken to Tamara on the phone before Oliver’s testing on May 8th. She had helped set it up and had another practice do the sedated ABR for her. On the 14th of May, two days before Oliver’s operation, Tamara drove over an hour to us in Hopefield. We got to meet each other and she explained the whole cochlear implant process to us.
I recall feeling so overwhelmed that this professional would go completely out of her way to meet us, explain every detail to us and assure us that she would be in the operating room with Oli through the whole surgery. She showed us a zcochlear implant and it was pretty unbelievable that this small thing, although rather large compared to Oli’s head (and he has a big head), would give him access to sound. It was at this time that we also got to choose the colour of his processors and all the extras for the kit. We said our goodbyes and “see you in two sleeps” for the big day.
The next two days, involved packing our bags for a week’s stay in Cape Town. My mom’s friend had generously offered the use of her apartment which was just down the round from the hospital. My mom had also offered to come with us and stay with us in the apartment. It was welcomed by both Daniel and I as we really didn’t know what lay ahead.
We left Hopefield on the 15th of May so that we wouldn’t have to do the long drive on the morning of the 16th. We had to be at the hospital at 6:00am. My mom waited in the car while Daniel took me to hospital entrance. He wasn’t able to go in with me due to COVID and the one parent rule. So a nurse helped me with the pram and all my bags. We didn’t know yet if Oli would be staying over after the operation or not. They took Oli’s vitals and he was a pretty happy chappy. He had never really taken to the dummy (pacifier) but in the last two weeks with breast-feeding being withheld he decided to give it a chance.
A nurse came to fetch us and take us to pre-op. When we got there I changed into scrubs, had those little things put on my shoes, a hair-net and was ready to take Oli into the theatre. While we waited we met the anaesthetist who was lovely and also very reassuring. All was going very smoothly until a nurse walked up to Oli and thought it would be funny to pull his dummy (pacifier) out of his mouth…well Oli didn’t find it funny at all. He started crying and was pretty inconsolable. Finally, after a while, he calmed down.
Another nurse arrived and said, “its time”. I remember feeling the tears welling up in my eyes, but my head saying don’t cry, you have to be strong for Oli. We walked into the theatre and the anaesthetist showed me how to hold him while they put the mask over his little face. Oli fought it and so they needed to give him a bit more and then all of a sudden he was fast asleep. Things moved very quickly after that, the surgeon Dr Naude, reassured me and said she would love to hug me but can’t as she couldn’t break the sterile field. Obviously, I understood that.
The nurse led me out of theatre and, as the doors closed, I started sobbing.