Friday, March 8, 2013

Sudden Hearing Loss - Acoustic Neuroma Part 1

While there is much I would just rather forget about this brain tumor diagnosis and surgery journey, there is much more that I want to document and remember. Why? Well, three main reasons:
  1. I don't ever want to forget the Lord's faithfulness to me - even in the dark moments. And there were dark moments...more than I might want to admit. We need reminders of life altering events in our past. To help us remember, we can set up the "stones of remembrance" mentioned in Joshua chapter 4. In some sense, these blog posts are my stones of remembrance.
  2. I hope to paint an honest picture of how Jerry and I walked through the diagnosis and treatment decision making process, in an effort to help others who find themselves staring at an MRI report with a large, nicely shaped ice-cream cone-like tumor lodged in their head. Being a "lucky one", meaning being one of the 1 in every 100,000 people who are diagnosed with acoustic neuromas annually, is quite overwhelming. Just the vocabulary itself that I have gained over the past three months is astounding---neurotologist, vestibular system, 8th cranial nerve, translabyrinthine approach (craniotomy anyone?!?), gamma knife radiosurgery, advance directive, tinnitus, mastoid, skull base surgery, meningioma, vestibular schwannoma, neurofibromatosis, otolaryngologist, etc.  Seriously, someone give me the SAT, stat. I can actually pronounce and spell them too. ;)
  3. I love to is therapeutic in a way.  Now that I am no longer working part-time, I actually have the time to do it. No pressure to follow along...this is more for me than you. And I realize acoustic neuromas are probably only interesting to a small percentage of the population! ;) 
So, this is how it all started...

We spent much of Thanksgiving break at my in-laws home in East Texas. That is the first time I remember thinking something was not right with my hearing. We were playing Yahtzee, and in her typical fashion, Lily (8) was shaking the dice way too loudly in the plastic tumbler. She does everything with gusto, so I didn't comment, but started to notice that one of my ears was more sensitive to the noise than the other.  Then I realized there was actually a soft humming sound in my left ear.  I didn't think anything of it, until a couple of days later when I moved my cell phone from my right ear to my left in order to do something with my right hand. I could still hear the voice, but it was hard for me to figure out what they were saying.  Just on the left side. 

At this point I was about 6 weeks into a new part-time job.  It was crazy and I disliked it, but I still didn't really want to miss it for a doctor's appointment since I was so new. I was also having another symptom in my ears, that I would learn was totally unrelated to the tumor. I had this weird itchiness and I would wake up with moisture in my ears. I think that was actually more bothersome than the humming, and seeing that I had my first ever (in my life...according to my mother dear!) ear infection about 6 months earlier...I decided I better get my ears checked.

I HATE calling in favors to friends who also happen to be physicians. Having a couple of physicians in the family helps me to see it from their perspective, too (though I don't hesitate to call in favors from them, ha!). Basically, I think is is rude and presuming and just not ideal....BUT...what did I do when I needed to get in quickly and on a day when I wasn't working? I texted Dr. Tim Thomason, a friend from church and fellow parent at our girls' school, to see if he could work me in! ;) He kindly obliged.

So, on Wednesday 11/28/2012, Jade and I headed to the ENT office of our friend.  I figured after a round of antibiotics and a steroid shot, perhaps, that I would be as good as new.

Wow, did I figure wrong.

Part 2 coming soon...

1 comment:

Larry Gott said...

Kerry, I'm looking forward to part 2 !
But regarding part one - - that is quite an expansive vocabulary you have required as of late! But it occurs to me that the knowing of most of those words is rarely for a good reason. And so it was with us and the word "vestibular", also about Thanksgiving 2012. On November 8th, I took our apparently healthy 15 year old golden retreiver therapy dog Sugar out for her morning bathroom trip. Unexpectedly, she fell down twice while looking for that perfect bathroom break spot. It seemed she was having trouble mostly on one side, her face looked like maybe she had suffered a stroke. So to the vet we went. Tests showed that she had no stroke but rather suffered a severe vestibular incident, from which almost all dogs recover. With Sugar however, there was to be no recovery -- as she declined into almost total instability. We had her at the vet hospital for 13 days, and then back home for a final 3 days, when we were advised to relieve her suffering by helping her to cross the rainbow bridge into peace, which we did on November 26th. Sugar had been a therapy dog for her last two years, meeting and brightening many of the PCPC shut-ins during the summer of 2012.
On February 7th, our new golden senior Gracie joined our family, heading for a rich life as a therapy dog, we hope!
But as for us, we hope not to hear the word "vestibular" anymore in this life -- whether it be for man or beast.
So this is something we can and will pray for you with our sadly acquired knowledge.

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