Chronic Illness · My Health Stuff

Cutting in Time for School

I had a follow-up appointment with Dr. K today, to see if the eardrops had worked (yes, I was able to continue them for the entire ten days). They have!!!! 😀 I no longer have any infections in my ear!!! This is cause for some major dancing around, my ear has been infected since the middle of March!

:: crazy dance party of one commences ::

Dancing Bean

:: record screeches to a halt ::

Oh right, I forgot to mention the reason for the title… I have to have surgery. Yup, on my ear. Now that it isn’t infected anymore, Dr. K was able to see things more clearly. Turns out, my ear just looked like the holes had closed… but that is not the case. Well, at least with the bigger one, the other one is so small it’s hard for him to completely determine what is going on with it. So what’s going on? Well, I have what is called a cholesteatoma, which is a cyst-like pocket of skin. Mine is behind the eardrum. When the hole in my eardrum formed, my ear canal decided to extend its skin through the hole. Skin is not supposed to be back there. The reason it looked like the hole was gone, is because the cyst is pushed up against the back of the eardrum (kind of like a pot lid). Unfortunately, he couldn’t really tell what was going on with the smaller hole. Dr. K was able to see a white mass behind the location of the second hole, but he doesn’t know if what he was seeing was scar tissue or another cyst. In case you are wondering, the large cyst is about 4mm, and the tiny mass is only about 2mm… so yeah, crazy tiny.

Cholesteatoma
eardrum highlighted in pink; skin shown in blue

So, now I’m having surgery. On August 26th. Dr. K is going to attempt to perform the surgery through the ear canal, but since my left ear canal is so tiny, he’s not sure if he’ll be able to do it. If not, he has to cut behind the part of the ear you can see (on the side of your head, also called the pinna), and fold that forward. Gross, right? I get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. Because of that, describing the surgery is going to be quite difficult for me… actually, just thinking about what to say is making me nauseas. Short summary: He is going to get behind my eardrum, remove the cholesteatoma, close the holes with a skin graft, then close me back up. If you want more details, this page by Marshfield Clinic is a really good place to start (well written and accessible). I trust Dr. K and his credentials, so I’m more at ease than I have been when surgery has been mentioned in the past.

The office gave me the post-op instructions already, and some of them are pretty weird/ridiculous/crazy:

  • Do not blow nose for three weeks, and be sure you sneeze with your mouth open if necessary for three weeks.
    • Remember how awful my allergies are?! That should be fun.
  • No water in the ear for six weeks.
    • He actually mentioned using a plastic cup guard when getting my hair wet (hold a plastic cup over my ear, or any cup, but plastic is safer in the shower hehe). I’m hoping that works, because I hate the cotton ball covered in Vaseline approach. My next shower will be testing the cup thing.
  • No “heavy lifting or bending over for three weeks.”
    • Yeah, I have two cats. They’re going to be missing out on a huge amount of petting.
    • Oh, and get a kick out of this: “heavy lifting” for those three weeks is considered 10 pounds… YIKES!
  • Then for the next three weeks (so until week six post-op), no lifting of anything over 25 pounds.
    • Well, I’m going to be pretty useless around the house for six weeks and Dan is going to have to weigh everything for me!
  • Avoid pressure building in my ear for six weeks.
    • By the way, exercise causes pressure to build in your ear. I’m going to need to find out if doing one-on-one Pilates with Joleen can be modified to be gentle enough that I don’t lose too much of the progress I’ve made.
  • I need to change cotton balls in my ear at least three times a day, for three days, because of all the drainage.
    • This isn’t as ridiculous as it is gross… but it’s notable for sure.

Luckily, Mom said she would come out here to help out, I just need to tell her when. Too bad she’s not just coming out to visit and I’m going to be miserable and not much fun to be around the entire time. But at least someone will be around to help care for the cats while Dan is working and keep the house from getting super gross.

So when is this exciting cutting, and why do I mention school? Because I start classes on August 25th and my surgery is August 26th… Dr. K recommended not leaving the house for three days, but it’s mostly for comfort reasons. So I’m going to go to my first day, tell my teachers, then attend my second day (hopefully with my mom so she can help me take notes, or at least with a tape recorder) while in pain and exhausted. I know, I’m completely dumb, but at least it’s the beginning of the semester so I won’t be missing too terribly much. The 26th was the earliest he could do it, at least for sure. The lady that scheduled me said that she could probably do it the week before on the 19th, but it sounded like there weren’t many spots. Dan might have a WDR (wet dress rehearsal, for a launch) to attend in California starting the 27th, so we might schedule the surgery for the 19th instead (he only does surgery on Wednesdays). Not looking forward to potentially messing up my semester, but I’m going to graduate in May! I’m determined because I’m so close! I’m hoping to get my third 4.0 in a row, because it would be absolutely awesome to end my degree with that many 4.0s.

Hopefully, this will end the Great Ear Saga of 2015!


If you missed the beginning of this saga, please read these posts:

The Great Ear Saga of 2015

Bawling Bean

Stay on the Drops

Surgery Jitters

The PreOp Highlights

Class, Surgery, Life, Anxiety

Dan’s Post-Surgery Update

Quick Ear Update

PostOp Physical Therapy

My Post-Surgery Update

Pain Killers, Exhaustion, Life

October: PostOp and Life

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