Category Archives: Ears

Posts about Todd’s ears and ear surgeries.

some photos of Todd’s ears

I realize that many of the blog articles I’ve been writing have been pretty text-heavy. That’s OK for those of you who want to hear all the specific details about my surgery and recovery. But a picture’s worth a thousand words, right? So I decided to catch up with an all-photo post. Here is the story of my surgery and immediate recovery, told almost solely through photos.

Before surgery, I figured I might as well give myself a buzz cut, since I wouldn't want to cut my hair any time soon.

Before surgery, I figured I might as well give myself a buzz cut, since I wouldn’t want to cut my hair any time soon.

As one of many precautions, the surgeon signed my ear, to make sure everyone involved operated only on the left ear and not accidentally on the right one

As one of many precautions, the surgeon signed my ear, to make sure everyone involved operated only on the left ear and not accidentally on the right one

Once I had an IV installed and some special leggings to give me a non-stop massage, I was ready to go. Here I am waiting for the doctors to show up.

Once I had an IV installed and some special leggings to give me a non-stop massage, I was ready to go. Here I am waiting for the doctors to show up. 

After spending 23 hours in an ICU room, I was discharged from the hospital and sent "home" to our hotel. Here I am modeling my awesome head bandage and a roller derby t-shirt.

After spending 23 hours in an ICU room, I was discharged from the hospital and sent “home” to our hotel. Here I am modeling my awesome head bandage and a roller derby t-shirt.

Part of my rehabilitation was retraining my vestibular system to work right. There are a half dozen exercises I'm supposed to do three times a day, starting as soon after surgery as possible.

Part of my rehabilitation was retraining my vestibular system to work right. There are a half dozen exercises I’m supposed to do three times a day, starting as soon after surgery as possible.

Here's the most gruesome of all the post-surgery photos. It shows the incision wound held together by surgical staples. This was during a walk that Beth and I took in a nearby park.

Here’s the most gruesome of all the post-surgery photos. It shows the incision wound held together by surgical staples. This was during a walk that Beth and I took in a nearby park.

Also at the same nearby park, here is a photo of Beth and me together, taken by her phone camera

Also at the same nearby park, here is a photo of Beth and me together, taken by her phone camera

 

bye bye, Louisiana

I’m writing this from a Southwest Airlines 737-700 about 42,000 feet in the air. It’s been a busy day, but the big point is that we are now on our way back to Colorado from Louisiana. Let me bring you up to speed.

I already wrote about Tuesday’s trip to the Bogue Falaya Park. Well, that short trip tired me out and I spent all the rest of the afternoon napping in our hotel room. Wednesday was a bit more lively, though. We found a local coffee shop in the historic downtown area of Covington and had some delicious breakfast and coffee there. Then we walked around and did some window shopping and sightseeing on the side streets of Covington. That was fun, and I wasn’t nearly as tired out as the day before. Was it a matter of loading up on caffeine, or my body getting used to working with the newly rebooted balance system? Maybe both. Wednesday evening we met up with another patient of Dr. Gianoli for dinner. Her name is Valerie and she and her husband are from the Seattle area, in town so she can undergo the extensive balance test routine. It was nice having dinner with them, but unfortunately we chose a pretty loud restaurant, which tired out my ears and brain pretty fast. So it was nice to get back to the hotel and watch some quiet TV.

This morning we got up early and went to the doctor’s office for my one week followup. I told him this summary of my recovery progress as of right now:

  • the sound of my voice is very loud in my left ear, much louder than before surgery
  • I’m occasionally hearing my heartbeat in that ear, but not always
  • the pain level is pretty low and has been treated during the day with just Advil, and at night with Tylenol with Codeine
  • balance issues are pretty minimal: it seems that everything tilts slightly to the left, but the world doesn’t move, and I haven’t had any nausea or spinning at all

He took the packing material out of my ear – some cotton but mostly a gel packing – and then suctioned out the gunk that had accumulated. That always feels weird, but it was nice to have that stuff out of there. The tube in the eardrum that he put in during surgery is now free and clear to do its job, which is to equalize pressure while I’m traveling by plane and let bloody ooze seep out of the ear as my swelling goes down. Also, perhaps best of all, Dr. G took out the staples that had been holding the seams of my skin together. There are sutures you can’t see under the layer of the skin, and these are what are actually keeping the two halves of my face together. The staples were just on the surface, and he warned that now that they’re gone the gaps in the skin may (or may not) drift apart a little. But with time and a very light daily application of antibiotic ointment, things will heal back beautifully.

Dr. Gianoli did notice – as I had earlier – that my left ear is sticking out farther than the right one. Having seen his handiwork in the past, I won’t be surprised if it just naturally grows back perfectly into place so they’re even.

Now that I’m going back to the real world, a few things to look forward to in the future:

  • continue to sleep with my head elevated at a 45 degree angle if possible for another couple weeks
  • come back in January for my next followup
  • don’t get my ear wet until the tube is removed at the followup
  • no strenuous activities for 6 weeks, including lifting more than 10 pounds
  • antibiotic drops in the ear for another week
  • finish out the course of antibiotic pills and antiviral pills; double my daily dose of Diamox (to reduce intracranial pressure)
  • if I don’t need them (which I haven’t) just hold on to the steroid pills and the anti-nausea pills, in case I need them for some other reason
  • get a lumbar puncture in a few weeks to see how my intracranial hypertension is coming along

And after all that, we went back to our hotel and packed up to head home. We had some inexpensive Japanese food, and then walked around at the park for a couple hours. That gave me more opportunity to walk – this time on uneven terrain, which exercises the balance centers in new ways. After that, I was quickly tired out and rested a while as Beth took some photos, then we drove to the airport and caught a plane to Denver.

I can’t wait to see what it’s like on the outside now

Today is the fifth day after my SCDS surgery, and I finally got to leave our hotel. My period of bed rest officially ended about 11:00 am this morning, though some other people who have this same surgery are told to stick to bed rest for three full weeks. So I took it very easy today.

Beth brought me some breakfast from the hotel’s breakfast bar, and then after a shave (my first one post-surgery) and shower I got dressed and we drove to a nearby park, the Bogue Falaya Park in Covington. The park wasn’t too busy and fronts the Bogue Falaya River, which is one of the three rivers that winds through the Covington area. We had a nice slow walk along the riverbank – not slow because I’m such an incurable romantic, but slow because my balance and footing are definitely not 100% right now. There were only a few others in the park, including a guy who was painting a historic building on the other side of the river.

For some reason, it seems that everything I see tilts slightly to the left. I noticed this first when we were walking down the hall of the hotel; the ceiling doesn’t seem level! So that’s one thing that needs to be retrained in my balance system. I’m still having about the same amount of pain in my ear – no more, no less. It feels like an ear ache from an ear infection that comes and goes. It’s not debilitating, but is pops back to the surface from time to time to remind me it’s there. I’m still taking Advil – three pills at a time – to try to keep that at bay, since I’d rather put up an ear ache than have the mildly loopy feeling that Tylenol 3 gives me.

Lastly, my ear is still slowly oozing blood. Every few hours, Beth removes the cotton ball that’s stuck in there so she can put some more antibiotic drops in and put a new cotton ball in. But the last one always has a little wet blood on it. I’m not sure when that’ll stop.

Our walk around the park probably only lasted an hour or so, maybe less, but it was enough to wear me out for the rest of the day. After that, we went to Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, a Louisiana-based regional fast food chain that makes really good chicken fingers (which since I’ve become a fan has expanded into Colorado). And then we went back to the hotel where I napped all afternoon. Beth originally planned for me to join her on a trip to Fontainebleau State Park, but I decided to stay behind and sleep and watch movies on my laptop instead. Healing is hard work!

my last full day of bed rest

As of right now, I just finished my 4th day of bed rest after SCDS surgery, and am starting my 5th and final day. Hurray!

Where am I in the recovery process? Well, my digestive system restarted yesterday, which is good. It was pretty uncomfortable at times, but I’m glad things are moving now. I have pain in my ear comparable to a “normal” ear ache that you might have from a mild ear infection. I’m trying to fight that with Advil.

My autophony is still pretty loud, and a can’t hear much out of my left ear, though I hear some clicking from time to time in there. I don’t have any serious balance problems or vertigo or dizziness, which is good, though it feels a tiny bit worse than it did yesterday. Some reddish/brownish fluid is still coming out of my ear, like bloody seepage. I’m not sure how much longer that’ll continue.

I’m taking most meals in bed, and doing lots of napping between them. But I did eat at the table once yesterday. I’m looking forward to going out somewhere for dinner tomorrow. Today, though, we need to finish off all the groceries Beth bought at the store.

I wasn’t really supposed to do this, since I’m on bed rest, but yesterday we walked outside to the back patio of the hotel to get out of the way of the housekeeper so she could clean our hotel room. And then we spent some time in the big “lodge” room, watching some TV, too. But that was less than an hour. Tomorrow will have more of that, I think.

There isn’t a new photo to share with you. I look pretty much the same as yesterday.

day 3 of recovery from ear surgery

It is Sunday morning, the 3rd day after my SCDS surgery. High points to look forward to today:

  • The giant bandage on the side of my head came off today, which meant my head got washed a little. That was nice.
  • I’m midway through my 5 days of mandatory bed rest.
  • I’m also hoping Beth will bring me a tasty espresso drink from a coffee shop somewhere – an iced mocha, for example.

Yesterday my recovery continued pretty uneventfully. I got a hot shower, with a shower cap to protect my head bandages from getting wet. I stayed in bed most of the day, as I was supposed to, and that gave me a lot of time to catch up on all my email and watch some roller derby online and play this weird video game I bought last week for my iPad.

I made it through the day on just regular Advil for pain, which was good. It was nice to not be loopy all day, but I did have Tylenol 3 (acetaminophen plus codeine) right before bed. The kind of pain I’m having the past couple days is like a common headache or earache. It’s not too bad. In fact, it’s surprising that I had three holes drilled in my skull last week and am having no more pain that a triple shot of Advil can handle.

Today will probably be more of the same, though I’m gonna try some video editing on my laptop (from bed). Beth wants to let the hotel’s housekeepers in to do their thing today, too, but it’s a bit awkward for me to be lying in bed with maids working around me. Maybe she’ll let me get up long enough to go sit in the lobby while the maids clean house.

I should point out my symptoms at this point, for others who are considering having this same procedure done. On the 3rd day post-op, I have a lot of ringing tinnitus in my left ear. I also have loud autophony; my voice is very loud in that ear and occasionally my heartbeat is very loud, too. When I do my vestibular retraining exercises, I can hear my eyes moving as they track targets. These are worse autophony symptoms than I was having before surgery, so obviously I hope these go away completely as part of the recovery process. Like I already wrote, pain level is pretty low. Compared to my first surgery, I would say there is less pain and I’m able to read and use a computer a lot better. Unfortunately, I’ve still got the post-surgery constipation and my stomach hurts because of it. I hope that changes today. I also had a little dizziness this morning, but not bad.

Here’s what was under my Princess Leia bun. I’ve got cotton balls stuck in my ear canal, and staples holding my skull together.

Click here to see all the other posts about my ear surgery.

surgery accomplished!

I learned Friday afternoon that there were some tests I needed to have done in Colorado before coming to Louisiana. So, since we were leaving first thing Tuesday, that meant having the tests Monday morning. I had an EKG and blood tests at Boulder Community Hospital.

Travel through security at Denver International Airport was the easiest security I’ve ever had. They randomly selected Beth to have her hands swapped for chemicals, and then after they cleared that they sent us to a special line where they were using a machine that looked and worked like the 1970’s-era metal detector. We didn’t have to go through the “porno scanner”, we didn’t have to take our shoes off, we didn’t even have to pull our laptops out of our bags. I even left my sweater and belt (with big metal buckle) on. I was waiting for someone to jump out and tell us we’ve been pranked and it can’t possibly be this easy. But it was that easy.

Once we got to New Orleans, we took a break for some Popeye’s fried chicken, and then found our rental car and drive to our hotel in Covinton. We’re staying at the Homewood Suites, which isn’t very far from Dr. Gianoli’s office. We checked in to the hotel, did some basic grocery shopping, and then went to bed early for a 6am alarm.

Wednesday was a day of tests, starting with a CT scan. I’d forgotten how quick they are compared to an MRI. Then I got the full battery of hearing and balance tests at Dr. Gianoli’s office, with just a 30 minute break for sandwiches on the front port with Beth.

After the afternoon tests – I didn’t vomit once, unlike many people who do these balance tests – we rounded out the day with a summary of the medical procedure and the test results. One thing I really enjoyed seeing was the CT of the dehiscence on the right side that was fixed 4 years ago. The patch there is still in place and is huge. The surgeon really over-engineered the patch last time, and the bone is probably 10 or 20 times as thick as on a normal person.

About this time is when I learned that the surgeon’s office was expecting some sort of letter from my PCP clearing me for surgery based on the blood EKG tests that happened Monday. So we had to scramble around and have a local anesthesiologist look over my EKG, which had some anomaly, before she could clear me. That was done verbally, but then they had to check both those things again the morning of surgery. I’m not sure if the lab tests from Boulder ever made it to Louisiana. It may have just been a waste of several hours and a bunch of money.

My surgery was the first on the schedule, Thursday November 7, 2013 at 7:00am. That meant checking in with the same day surgery desk at 5:00am, which meant leaving for the hospital at 4:30. That made for a long day. I filled out paperwork, had another blood test, had another EKG, and then they got me ready for surgery. I had the automatic compression leggings to prevent blood clots, and lovely gown with lots of access holes. I used the bathroom one last time, and then met with the anesthesiologist, all the nurses, and briefly with Dr. Gianoli. Then it was off to the races.

They started by doing a lumbar puncture to measure and reduce my elevated intra cranial pressure (ICP). I was semiconscious for that since I had to follow verbal commands. but as soon as that was done, they knocked me out without warning. I woke up in some place – I don’t know if it was a recovery room or in the operating room. But they shortly moved me to a private ICU room which would be my home for the next 23 hours.

I was pretty out of it and somewhat dizzy when I first arrived. The routine in ICU was no solid food, so all I had to “eat” on Thursday was apple juice, water, chicken broth, and beef broth. They took good care of me. There was one main ICU nurse during the day whom I saw quite a bit and then a different one overnight whom I didn’t see much. She didn’t check in on me as often, maybe on the assumption I’d be asleep most of the time. Unfortunately, I’m light sleeper and so lot of noises and things in the ICU would wake me up. That night my sleep was basically about 10 or 15 catnaps ranging from 15 to 45 minutes, I think.

Today as I write this it’s Friday. I got a liquid breakfast of coffee, broth, fruit juice, and jello, but then once they talked to my surgeon on the phone he OKed me to have a solid breakfast. That arrived just about 45 minutes later, and was coffee, fruit juice, milk, scrambled eggs, grits, and two pieces of toast. That was the first solid food I’d had in about 38 hours.

During breakfast, the nurse shift changed so I was back with the day nurse. After breakfast, Dr. Gianoli came by and checked me out and talked to us a little while about post-op stuff. Then he cleared me to leave. So they took off all the EKG electrodes, pulse ox meter, the automatic leg massagers, and – best or worst of all – my urinary catheter. I hate the feeling of those things coming out, but it served me well while it was in me. I drank a lot of fluids after surgery, and would’ve had to get up to use the bathroom way too often given the drugs I was on and my steadiness.

Then Beth drove me back to our hotel, where I’ve been all afternoon. She’s taking good care of me by keeping the schedule of all my meds I have to take, and giving them to me at the right time. She also rubbed my legs and back and shoulders, which felt really good since I haven’t been able to stretch much.

I’m restricted to best rest for 5 days, and after 3 days I get to take off the giant bandage on the side of my head. I may get a little stir crazy from being in bed for 5 days straight, so may just assume that first day in ICU counted as the first day and now today (Friday) is the second day.

Here’s how I look as I type up these notes. I posted this same photo to Facebook and wow did that ever generate the sympathy online! I think once people see this giant bandage on my head the whole thing gets a little more real for them.

This is the evening after I got released from the hospital

This is the evening after I got released from the hospital

my head is broken, time to fix it

Here we go again! Next week I’m having major surgery on my inner ear. It’s broken fairly bad in a way that’s hard to understand. I’ve been through this before when I had surgery on my other ear four years ago, though the procedure has changed somewhat. I’m writing this as the first in a series of blog posts to help people understand what’s going on.

What’s Wrong With You?

In case you’re new to my ear problems, I have a disorder called superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome. In short, this means a bone inside my inner ear is broken, and the result is that I hear everything going on inside my head. I can hear my eyes move back and forth, I can hear my heartbeat, I can my neck bones and cartilage discs move around, I can hear fluids moving around inside my brain cavity. And worst of all, when I walk the impact of each foot hitting the ground sounds like a bass drum being hit right next to me. When I talk, the sound of my voice is amplified inside my head and sounds like a punk singer shouting into a microphone plugged into a PA with a blown speaker.

How Did This Happen?

Scientists don’t know why, but some small percentage of people are born with unusually thin bones separating their brain cavity and their inner ear. For some of those people, it’s never an issue, but for others – like me – the thin ear eventually breaks open either due to impact or age. In my case, I first noticed the problem about 20 years ago after an unusually strenuous weight lifting session, and then a few years later it escalated when I was doing an inversion pose in a yoga class. As my friend Patrick Sheridan loves to say, I’m the only person around who needs brain surgery because of a yoga accident.

Oh My God, How Do You Stand It?

Most people who have SCDS have crippling vertigo and other balance problems. Fortunately, my balance problems are very mild in comparison, so you’ve probably never seen me staggering when I walk or puking from dizziness, but if you’re really observant you may have noticed I almost always use the handrail when I go up or down stairs.

My major complaint isn’t balance problems but the hearing problems I described above. This is why I don’t stay at live music shows for very long when I do go, and why I avoid loud places like busy restaurants and clubs, and why I talk so quietly that people sometimes have a hard time understanding me.

My right ear was originally the worst of the two, which is why I had it operated on first. After that surgery (which was totally successful), my plan was to put off having surgery on the left side for as long as I could stand it. The treatment of SCDS is still an evolving science, and every year I wait is another year that surgeons improve the repair procedures. But things really started to deteriorate in the left ear last year to the point where I planned to get surgery in September 2012. However, due to other complications in my life I postponed it until September 2013 and then again until November 2013.

Now I’m scheduled for surgery on Thursday November 7, 2013 with Dr. Gerard Gianoli at the North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond, Louisiana.

What Are They Going To Do?

WARNING: This is a little gory, so if you’re freaked out easily skip ahead and just know that there is a surgical procedure that will probably fix my problem.

To fix this requires surgery. The bone never grows back on its own, and no combination of medications will make the symptoms go away. Thursday morning, they’ll knock me out with general anesthesia, and then shave my head. Then the surgeon will drill one hole into the area of my inner ear through the mastoid bone (that’s the big bump you can feel right behind your ear). This is called the “trans-mastoid approach”. Through this access hole, he will carve out some room to work inside my skull, and then he will patch over the dehiscence (“dehiscence” just means rupture or opening) with bone cement that should form a patch.

Then he’s going to cut my eardrum out and go into the middle ear through the ear canal, where he will reinforce what are called the round window and oval window. Based on his experience, people who live with SCDS for a while have weakened window membranes because of the extra stress that’s put on them. So as long as he’s in there, he’ll reinforce them so they’re less likely to rupture in the future.

He’ll pack the ear with some gel foam, which will protect everything while it heals, sew my eardrum back on, patch the hole behind my ear, and suture that closed.

How Long Will This Take?

I’ll be in surgery for about 3 hours, and then recover in the hospital. If things go well, he will discharge me in less than 24 hours. Otherwise, they’ll keep me overnight or longer for observation. As an aside, when I had my right ear fixed, I had to stay in the ICU overnight and then a regular hospital room for a second night. So this newer procedure is much less invasive.

Beth and I will stay in Louisiana for a week after the surgery. I’ll be confined to bed rest for the first two or three days, and then after that I can start going for short walks as tolerated. I have a one week followup appointment with the surgeon, and if he’s happy then we will fly back to Colorado.

Then I’ll do the rest of my recovery at home in Boulder. I won’t be able to work (or drive) for a while, so I’ll be on medical leave from my job at Oracle while Beth continues to take care of me. I’m not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks, not allowed to bend at the waist, not allowed to do anything strenuous, etc.

I’m hoping to return to work after a month, or maybe even less. That’s about how long I was out last time, but there are two other reasons to get back to work ASAP. First, the medical leave is unpaid. Second, if I’m out longer than 30 days, we have to switch to COBRA, which means our health insurance premiums will double or triple.

What Can I Do To Help?

If you’re still reading this, thank you! I’m sure most people have tuned out by now. I’m going to get really bored during recovery from this thing, and I won’t be able to get out much. So if you want to come by to visit, that would be awesome.

Beth is an awesome caregiver, but she could also use a break once in a while. So we’d both love for you to come by our place and chat with me to give her a chance to get away for a while, go shopping, have some “me time”, or whatever. Just keep in mind I’ll be deaf in my left ear and may tire easily while my body is healing.

If you aren’t in the Boulder area, send me an email or call me (don’t be surprised if I put you on speaker phone).

Or lastly, you can just stay tuned here on my blog for more updates and leave a comment once in a while.

Where Can I Learn More?

If you click this link, you’ll see all my posts about my ear problems, including my blog posts about my first surgery.

Speaking of which, I wrote what is probably the most extensive journal about pre-surgery, surgery, and recovery related to SCDS ever put online. That’s on the SCDS Support website. If you’re reading this because you have SCDS, think you might have SCDS, or are supporting a loved one who has SCDS, you should join the site. If you’re  a member of SCDSsupport.org, here’s the journal of my first surgery and here’s the journal of my second surgery.

Here is the Wikipedia article on SCDS, which is pretty good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_semicircular_canal_dehiscence_syndrome

Next stop: Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

just got back from Louisiana – 8 month ear checkup

Whew, what a day! I just spent the last 3 days in Louisiana, and I’m glad to be back. Monday (which was Labor Day, an American holiday) I flew to New Orleans, then rented a car and drove to Baton Rouge. Tuesday I had an appointment with my ear surgeon in the afternoon, and in the evening I met with 3 other patients (I call us the Baton Rouge Inner Ear Club). Then today, I drove back to New Orleans and then flew back home. Lots of travel all for a 1 hour checkup with the doc!

Everything’s in good shape with my ear, though, and now Dr. Gianoli just wants me to visit whenever I’m in the area. Could be a year from now, or more or less. I can always call or email him if anything weird comes up, but my ear’s in good shape. I like that approach, since it’s definitely not easy or cheap getting there. Like I said, I spent 2 days of mostly travel plus a 3rd day, all for a 60 minute checkup.  The hearing test shows my hearing is good in both ears (actually a little better on the side that he operated on, I think). And at this point, 8 months after my surgery, the scar is so faint you can barely see it.

So, to celebrate, Beth and I went to Sushi Mara for supper tonight. Kinda weird having such different fish dishes today. My lunch was a catfish po boy in New Orleans, and my supper was raw salmon in Lafayette, Colorado. Speaking of which, I met someone while I was down there who is from Lafayette, Louisiana!

Inside Todd’s Head

I finally finished uploading my video “Inside Todd’s Head” to YouTube. Here it is in normal (low) quality:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UZi5LPjIF4

And here is the higher quality (HD) version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UZi5LPjIF4&fmt=22

I realize 95% of people are going to watch this video and listen to it through low quality computer speakers, and those people will miss out on 95% of the point of this video, sadly. If you want to hear what my best representation of how SCDS really sounded in my case (before surgery) you’ll need to put on headphones.

6 weeks post-op results

I’m now at Community Coffee in Baton Rouge, having just finished my 6 week post-op follow-up appointment with Dr. Gianoli.  Short summary: he’s given me a clean bill of health and I’m ready to resume normal activities (though he doesn’t want me to really exert myself for another month).

To bring the occasional reader up to date…

Last week, I went back to week after being off for 7 weeks.  It was a bit of a challenge, and I found that I tired easily.  But I think things are continuing to improve.  I haven’t had any balance issues for about 4 or 5 weeks.

My hearing in the right ear (the one that was operated on) seemed to me to be as good as the left ear, and today’s hearing test proved it: hearing in my right ear is actually better now than before the surgery!  I know some of you are thinking, “But wait, didn’t you get ear surgery because of hearing problems?”  Well, yes I did, but the problem was that I was hearing too much.  My voice, my heartbeat, and other sounds in my head and body were way too loud in my right ear.  The surgery has definitely fixed those problems, which are called autophony.

I flew from Denver to New Orleans yesterday, because it’s quicker than flying from Denver to Baton Rouge directly because there are no direct flights to Baton Rouge.  I was nervous about how my right ear would react to the pressure changes of going up and down in the plane, but it was totally anticlimactic.  In fact, I think I noticed my left ear popping more than my right one.  In fact, things went so well with the pressure changes that I thought maybe the hole my doctor cut in the right eardrum 5 weeks ago still hadn’t healed over.  But when he looked today, he said the eardrum looks awesome.  He saw a little scar, but that may very well be from the tube I had put in years back when I was (mis)diagnosed with endolymphatic hydrops.

Also, Dr. G had me re-do a test called an ECOG (short for electrocochleography).  Before the surgery, my results were abnormal (due to the superior semicircular canal dehiscence).  Today, after the surgery, my results are normal.  Apparently, this bit of knowledge – that SSCD surgery also fixes ECOG problems – isn’t widely known, and Dr. G is gathering enough test results to write a paper on it.  He said he’d do the test for free, and I wasn’t in a hurry, so I agreed to be a guinea pig for him.

Finally, the doctor says my wound is healing up nicely.  Beth has been putting anti-scar cream on it most days since the surgery, but because the scar is covered by hair and the outer ear, Dr. G doesn’t think it’s a big deal to continue the cream past the first few weeks.  So, he left it up to me to decide whether I wanted to continue with the cream or not.  I’ll probably just drop it, since our routine has been for Beth to put it on me after she put the antibiotic drops in my ears.  But I don’t need the ear drops anymore since my eardrum is healed.

Oh, and I took Dr. G and his staff a thank you gift – two pounds of Enstrom’s Toffee, which is the best candy produced in Colorado.  They were very appreciative.

Next steps:

Followup in 6 to 9 months – 6 months if I’m having issues, 9 months if I’m not

Find an anaestesiologist near home and schedule a spinal tap to measure my CSF pressure and drain me if needed

Continue to take Diamox for the next year (yuck), to keep my CSF pressure down

Complete the sleep study to find out if I have sleep apnea (one possible underlying cause of high CSF pressure)

Continue to do lots of walking to get my eyes, ears, and proprioceptors (the three inputs to the balance system) working well together again

Get a blood test to make sure the Diamox isn’t doing weird things to me (I read one side-effect is lowered potassium)