Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sammie's Surgery is Scheduled and the Details Are Amazing

This past week we met with a surgeon here in St. Louis and scheduled the surgery to replace the cochlear implant on Sammie’s left side.  (If you’re just hearing about this for the first time and have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read about it here.)

The surgeon we have chosen to perform the surgery is Dr. Jacques Herzog.  Dr. Herzog is a highly regarded otologist and neurotologist and is the director of The Center for Hearing and Balance Disorders.  He is considered by many in St. Louis to be the authority on cochlear implant surgery.  

The surgery is scheduled for June 7th.  We are to arrive at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield at 5:30 am, and Sammie will be taken into surgery at 7:00 am.  The surgery should last no more than a few hours, and we were told she would likely be able to come home later that day.  Because we were required to spend the night for the first two surgeries, we were especially happy about that news.  

Like I said in my last post, Sammie’s audiologist, Valerie, along with an intern from Washington University, joined us for her appointment.   Valerie has a very close working relationship with Dr. Herzog, and will even be able to join Samantha in the operating room!  I am so incredibly pleased about this.  It will be much easier to let her go that day knowing that we have a close friend in the room with her.  At least that’s how I feel today :)  Valerie joked during the appointment that she would be there to make sure they didn’t shave off too much of her hair.  Sammie laughed about that a little bit, but her facial expression said, “Oh my gosh!  I forgot about that part!”  In reality, however, it should only be a small section of hair they’ll need to buzz, and I told her I’d shave a little of mine off too if it would help.  

Sammie’s first two surgeries were performed at the University of Iowa.  We are very fond of the staff there, especially Dr. Gantz, who was the first to give Sammie the gift of hearing 12 years ago.  It was very difficult decision to even consider going somewhere else this time.  However, she developed an infection following the last surgery - after we had returned to St. Louis - and nobody here would see us.  Local surgeons were unwilling to even look at her because she wasn’t their patient.  The staff at the emergency room completely freaked out when we took her there.  Our pediatrician, who had first agreed to take her stitches out, suddenly decided that she couldn’t have anything to do with it.  It was a horrible, stressful mess, and we knew we needed to do things differently this time.  In the end, only one surgeon was willing to see us and deal with the infection... Dr. Herzog.  He also removed the stitches for us, and I found a new pediatrician.

We’re feeling very optimistic about things.  Agreeing on a plan and finally scheduling the surgery have been a huge relief.  There’s even an amazing common thread that ties everyone involved together.  Follow this:
  • Dr. Herzog and Dr. Gantz trained together in Zurich, Switzerland.  They are actually very good friends and had spent the weekend prior to our appointment together.  Pretty Cool!
  • While receiving services at the University of Iowa, Valerie was on staff with Dr. Gantz, and was Sammie’s audiologist there.  Weeks after our family moved to St. Louis, Valerie also moved to St. Louis after taking a job at the Moog Center for Deaf Education, where Sammie was already enrolled as a student.  Total coincidence.  Awesome surprise!  In fact, they did not even miss one single appointment together.  Seriously!
  • Sammie was mainstreamed after graduating from the preschool program at the Moog Center for Deaf Education.  Dr. Gantz (Samantha’s first surgeon in Iowa) implanted the first graduate of the Moog Center for Deaf Education (in St. Louis.)  The first graduate of the Moog Center for Deaf Education (the one implanted by Dr. Gantz) was...Dr. Herzog’s son!!  SERIOUSLY!
So...Sammie’s first surgeon, Dr. Gantz, was the surgeon who implanted the first graduate from the school for the deaf that Sammie also attended, who was the son of the surgeon that will perform Sammie’s upcoming surgery.  If you don’t find that to be totally amazing, you might need to reread it!

For those of you wondering what the surgery will involve, Dave found this video online of Dr. Herzog being interviewed by a local news station.  It’s a few years old, but he sums the whole thing up nicely.  You can watch here.

Valerie and Sammie at the Moog Center for Deaf Education ~ Spring 2004