At about 3 weeks post-op my entire being seems to be receiving mixed messages. My energy level varies from full of energy and wanting to take on insane things like reorganize my filing system, to flat-out hopelessly exhausted. I can go from one to the other in the time it takes me to make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Eyes and Inner Ear
My eyes and inner ears think that they have this whole relearning to walk thing down by now, but I am not so sure. They second week or so of recovery was “floaty” at best, and staring at a spinning room at worst. Apparently it is not uncommon to have bouts of BPPV as you recover from this surgery according to Dr. Gianoli, so I’ve been experiencing a whole new vestibular disorder as I try to heal from my own previous condition. This is what they mean when they warn you, “Before your get better, you are going to get worse” post-surgery. During recovery week number 2, no one in the house would allow me to go or down stairs in my house, and my kids were on something I could only call “stumble watch” and would quickly usher me to a couch at the first sign of disequilibrium.
The most amazing/fascinating/horrifying thing has been the developmental healing of my brain. I was prepared for the fact that my walking would be so poor that I would still need a cane for a while, but unaware that my fine motor skills would be rusty as well. Staring week two, I was only able to read a few pages of a novel at a time and when I tried to write a thank you note my shaky handwriting was painfully messy. By the time week three was here, I was making BIG changes, meaning that reading a novel took less concentration and focus, and I began to stake small efforts at using my laptop. But only about an hour at a time on the laptop, because for some reason the process of writing, scanning and reading all together are more than my mind is ready to take on.
I have also experienced the typical reaction of a surgery in which your brain has been, for lack of better words, nudged around. (Note that the medical word on my surgical report was that my brain was “retracted” during the process of resurfacing the superior canal, but since no one really wants to visualize their brain being “retracted”, we will go with the gentle phrase “nudged around”. The result is I am often searching for the right words and forever writing down everything I might need to remember.
And being temporarily deaf is something interesting. I have a high pitched tinnitus in my surgical ear that goes on day and night and occasionally changes to a higher or lower tone. According to Dr. Gianoli, only 3% of his patients have lose their hearing entirely and so I am likely to continue to be deaf until between 2 to 9 months post-surgery. And that is due to the packing that he put into the middle ear to give added support to the reinforced round and oval windows he repaired. (Yes, I have packing in my ear. Again, something I choose not to think about too much.) . I do seem to be able to hear a little bit in the left ear, so I am assuming that I am not going to be one of the 3% with permanent hearing damage.
But all in all, each day gets better. And what all these recovery symptoms have in common are that they are invisible to those around me, much like the original bizarre symptoms of SCDS. I alone witness when the script on a laptop screen gets blurred, or when the passing cars make me feel like I am falling, or when the tinnitus in my surgical ear moves from a high pitch tone to the sound of crackling paper. The recovery, like the condition itself is, in so many ways, all in my head.