Surgery for a First-Timer: Mastoidectomy and Tympanoplasty

March 5 of this year (2016), I underwent a medical operation called Mastoidectomy and Tympanoplasty at the De Lasalle University Medical Center (DLSUMC) in Dasmarinas, Cavite. It was the first surgery that I ever had. Prior to it, I was still able to claim that I have not been subjected to any medical operation in my life. It was a bragging right proving that I was as fit as can be. Not anymore.
Photo Credit: oldgreentree (Creative Commons)
Now, I can no longer say that. All I can brag about is having the courage to have gone through a major surgery that most are not willing to do out of fear. And who can blame these people, really. Going under the knife can be terrifying. If you think about it, not only will your body be opened up, they will do risky stuff inside of it that you can’t even begin imagine.

When people hear that I had surgery done in my ears, they think of it as a minor procedure. However, it was anything but. I was asleep for six hours during the whole operation. The surgeon cut through behind my ear, opened it wide enough so that he can drill through my skull, fix my eardrum then stitch all of it back together before calling it a day.

I remember before the surgery was about to begin, the anaesthesiologist came over to tell me that I will wake-up after a while and it’ll be all done. As it turned out, that was exactly how it happened. For a moment, the doctor was saying they will start with the anesthesia to make me sleep and the next thing I know I was feeling groggy as I woke-up at the recovery room because the surgery has already been completed.

It was unbelievable and I was very thankful that everything went well. Thank God I was still alive. I knew there were risks involved. And for major surgeries, death is always among the possibilities. It may be a small likelihood since I underwent a clearance process but it was still there nonetheless.

To allow the surgery, I was checked for any medical history of sickness and allergies. My blood was analyzed for several components. An Xray of my chest was done as well to examine my heart and lungs. I have also gone through an ECG exam for the first time.

All of it was quite thorough. But I welcome it because it showed how meticulously they were to ensure readiness of a patient before going through a delicate operation. It lowers the risk since many things have already been checked.

Still, the pain started to hit during recovery. I had some trouble sleeping for a few days. I found it difficult to find a position lying in bed that will hurt the least. I would also wake up with blood from my wound staining the pillows. It was the most difficult period of the whole ordeal.

First time I saw my ear after surgery, I was surprised to find out that it was sticking out. Not the minimal unnoticeable kind but the obvious kind. It was disheartening somewhat to know that I would have to live with that. I was planning on letting my hair grow longer to cover my ears. I looked at hairstyles that I can copy from the internet and I decided on one particular look.

As I researched about it some more, I read that this sticking out of the ear is due to the swollen wound of the incision. It said that it should go back to normal in a few weeks. But my doctor was not so sure about that. He explained to me why the ear was sticking out as well but mentioned that I can just grow my hair longer to cover it (same as what I was thinking of doing). He didn’t tell me it will go back to normal.

But it did. After 5 weeks, my ear has finally moved back to where it was before. It’s not sticking out anymore and it aligns with my other ear. I guess even doctors can't possibly know everything.

The internet has been a very good source of information especially those coming from people who already went through the same thing. Like me, some have experienced reduced hearing after surgery. There’s no guarantee that it will get better but it may in due time.

I knew such an outcome was unavoidable. Mastoidectomy entails removing infected mastoid bones which is detrimental to hearing. But to treat the problem effectively, removal of the bones was necessary. Else, more severe complications may result.

All in all, my operation was a success. The wound healed, the infections were removed and my eardrum was restored. But the care for my ear will continue. That’s why regular visits to my surgeon will go on for as long as needed.  That’s an integral part of getting well together with observing the restrictions and cautions that would help avoid problems down the road.

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