Wow, that’s a long incision.
Put a finger a little up from
under your earlobe, hard against the ear (where that ridge of bone is), and then run it up, following the line of your ear, and then when you’re level with the top of your ear drift it backwards towards the top and back of your head for nearly the same distance, to the bony ridge. That’s how long the incision for baby3’s cochlear implant is.
But the operation itself (read the gruesome details, previously) went well. The surgeon (Patrick Axon, for anxious parents, or implant-awaiting adults Googling him) came in to us, still in his surgical greens, as we desperately tried to make the time pass since we’d bid goodbye to a now-sleeping infant in the anaesthesia room. “Went well, all the electrodes in, got a good response” were his words (slightly though not that much edited). He seemed happy with it, which is the important thing, I guess. He came around again that evening (having just removed some huge cancer from someone else) and once more the following morning, when he removed the huge pressure bandage that had been in place overnight.
And there weren’t any of the problems that can follow: no facial paralysis (so he avoided the nerve). We can’t tell if his taste has been affected. How do you ask a deaf baby if things taste different from yesterday? But his balance isn’t affected; 24 hours after the operation he was charging around the house, determined to do what he would do, while we gazed at the long, long slice in his head and followed him like presidential bodyguards against the possibility of his falling over and whacking the side of his head. He’s on painkillers, three different ones, alternating to create a two-hourly pattern (most infants don’t need so much pain relief after this op; he is one of the 10% who went against that).
It’s good to be out of the hospital. Childrens’ wards are like Tolstoy observed on families: the unhappy ones are all different in their own way*. We were probably the least unhappy; there were parents who’d been there ages and whose child would cry ever 20 minutes, and one small baby who seemed almost abandoned, her eyes occasionally opening to empty seats beside her cot; the mother apparently was too busy looking after her other five children to attend. The sheeer weight of unhappiness is almost too much to bear. As with parenthood, only when you’ve had a child who’s going through something like that do you understand what it’s about. Until then, it’s just a theoretical concept – “what would you do if your child had, I dunno, cancer, eh?”
But now that’s in the past. All we have to do now is keep dosing him with painkillers, keep the wound scrupulously clean and dry, prevent him falling sideways or forwards and banging his head, which could obviate the whole exercise (much easier to inside against with older children than 15-month-old toddlers), and stop him getting exposed to too many germs from huge family gatherings like the one we’re due to go to this Saturday. Gah!
And in two weeks we see the surgeon again for a checkup, and in six weeks we have “switch on” – when the external part gets linked to the internal processor that just got fitted. And then a long slow process of “tuning” the external processor to match his hearing response to the sensitivity of the external parts. But we’ve got past the hardest hurdle.
Still, that is a long incision, like someone marked him with a knife. Which I guess they did, in a way.
* the first lines of Anna Karenina: “
‘All unhappy families are different from one another. The happy families are all the same.All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” [Corrected according to result below, and comments - thanks.] Searching on Google Books today yields no results. (Update: The reason: I was doing this search on Google, which is looking for words that aren’t in the book. Durr.) Ah, but for this one – if you go to the Google Books home page and do the search on “Tolstoy”. So , the followup links from Google don’t work too well,if you search for a phrase that isn’t in a book, you won’t find the book, we conclude.