Kimberley Chan

Pre-Surgery pt 1: Health Precautions for Cochlear Implant Candidates

I finally received my acceptance letter to get the cochlear implant surgery. Except that that’s all it was – a letter just to say that I could do the surgery, but with no official confirmation or date.

The medical team in Quebec City told me to go ahead with all the necessary pre-surgery procedures. Cochlear implant candidates have to get vaccinated against meningitis, and bring proof that this was done when they go in for the surgery. That’s because people with cochlear implants are at higher risk for contracting meningitis. Meningitis occurs when the linings around the brain and spinal cord become inflamed.

There is no actual “meningitis vaccine” – only vaccinations against the infections that can cause meningitis. Therefore, each cochlear implant candidate’s pre-surgery vaccination process is a bit different. The vaccines are chosen based on your age and health history. I had my mom call for an appointment to get vaccinated the day I received the letter. The clinic wanted to give me an appointment next month. She had to explain that I needed them right away because I am going for surgery. Hence, they found an appointment for me the next morning. Note to all: If you need a doctor’s appointment right away, please insist, especially if it’s an emergency like when I really needed to see an ear specialist back in July.

I received two vaccines: the pneumococcal vacine, which protects you from from pneumococcal infections –  infections spread from pneumococci, a type of bacteria that causes bloodstream infections like meningitis, pneumonia, and ear infections, and the Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine (Hib). Hib is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, which infects the cerebral and spinal cord fluids.

It hurts and I feel like shit 🙁

Since it’s important to be in good health for the surgery, I also got the flu shot. I don’t get sick often, but when I do, I get sick for a long time. Last year, I got sick three times in a row, for a period of 5 months. The doctor suggested that it was because I was so stressed and not sleeping enough. So if I get sick now, they could postpone my surgery.

Having three vaccines at the same time cause my arm to hurt for a few days after. My body also didn’t deal with them well as I was feverish the next day and felt like I was coming down with a cold for a few days. The irony of medicine: The flu shot makes you feel like you’re getting the flu.

Next: Choosing a device

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