Thursday morning followed a slow and restless night spent worrying, apart from the obvious, about not waking in time for an early breakfast before my fasting deadline. It was to be unfounded. I found myself soft-boiling an egg and toasting some soldiers at 5.30am. I needed to be “nil by mouth” from 6.30am, and didn't want to miss getting a good start to the day.
After dropping the boys off with their play buddies for the day, Dan and I made our way to Cambridge, with me in the driving seat. I needed the distraction.
It was a lovely morning for a drive, the sky filled with bright blue and hot sun. We opened the windows and listened to Kiss FM on the radio. Funnily enough, they played several songs I could remember from when my hearing was better. I felt happy, but wondered if these familiar sounds would be the same in the future.
The Spire Cambridge Lea welcomed us more like visitors to a hotel than a hospital. We were shown quickly to my room. A nurse introduced herself, asked some questions and then took my blood pressure and temperature. She suggested I change into the regulation gown and antithrombotic tights straight away, just in case I was first up. I let Dan take a photo, but only if didn’t end up on Facebook. A minute later, “looking good…” was trending under the photo on my profile.
A few minutes later, the anaesthetist entered the room and introduced himself. The surgeon arrived not long after. We were keen to find out what time I was going in. Unfortunately, there was a delay, with my slot now looking to be around late afternoon or early evening. My heart sank.
Dan started to look hungry. To be fair, it must have been a couple of hours for him... I encouraged him to have his lunch. He looked relieved, and said “I guess there’s no point in both of us being hungry?”. I smiled; my tummy groaned.
It was a long afternoon. I had a stash of magazines to read and the TV to watch, but they didn’t really help. There was a garden with a sitting area near my room, so I started to wonder if it was worth getting changed back into my clothes and going out there. No-way was I going out there in my gown. At just that instant, rather ironically some might say, the fire alarm sounded. Seriously?
I rather begrudgingly ended up in the garden. My gown wasn’t tied up properly at the back, and I felt quite exposed from the back. Literally, Dan indicated later. Just call me Bridget Jones. Fortunately, the alarm stopped after 5 minutes, and we went back to my room.
At around 6pm, my turn finally arrived. After one last toilet stop (yes, 8 hours after my last sip of water), I jumped back onto my bed, and was couriered down the corridor to the anaesthetic room. After all these weeks, the operation was here.
My hands grew clammy as the team checked my details, and one of them carefully inserted a cannula into my hand. The kindly anaesthetist said I looked terrified. How very observant. I suddenly felt a cold stream trickle its way up my arm. A nurse stroked my hand and said it was okay. I begged to differ, and decided to tell her it wasn’t working. But before I had the chance, I opened my eyes and found myself in a different room.
The throbbing behind my right ear told me it was over. As I came to, I could see a nurse’s lips moving, but not clearly enough to read them. My head felt heavy. I just wanted to see Dan.
Fifteen minutes later, they wheeled me back to my room, two hours since I’d left it. Dan was relieved to see me. He looked tired though. The nurse said I hadn’t needed stiches, or a bandage – just glue. Amazing, just glue.
I was ready for a cup of tea, or four. I got through two small tea pots, and then worked steadily through some brie and grape sandwiches, and other snacks. Having been warned about permanent changes in taste after the procedure, I wondered if they’d taste different. A bit metallic perhaps, but not too much. Disappointingly, chocolate still tasted moreish.
It was starting to get dark, and was time to settle down for the night. Dan stayed with me, having crafted a bed from two armchairs in the room. It was fine, he assured me. My pain was too much to disagree with him. I drifted in and out of sleep during the night, watching TV and reading in between. Nurses appeared at regular intervals to take my vitals, and supply me with codeine and paracetamol, which helped.
In the morning, I had breakfast and was allowed to leave at 10:30am. I felt tired and sore, slightly dizzy, but managed the walk to the car, and survived the surprisingly bumpy ride up the A11 back home. Every bounce jarred my head.
Our boys were waiting for us outside our house, holding welcome home pictures and balloons. My mother-in-law was cheerily waving with them, having looked after them overnight. They all looked so happy but were wary that I was in pain. The boys were keen to see my scar as soon as I stepped foot in the house. “Yuck” apparently, but not quite enough to stop them requesting repeat viewings several more times during the day.
It was wonderful to arrive home again, with the surgery behind me. Four weeks and counting to the implant “switch on” back at the Emmeline centre at Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge.