Thursday, April 4, 2013

Follow-up ENT Appointment - Acoustic Neuroma Part 3

After experiencing a sudden hearing loss one week, and my initial ENT appointment the next, it was time for my follow-up appointment with Dr. Tim Thomason's partner, Dr. Constance Zhou.  Zhou is pronounce "joe".

Our biggest prayer between those two appointments was that my hearing would return. I had been put on quite a dose of steroids in efforts to recover my hearing. The meds were interrupting my sleep terribly and I was becoming more and more of a mess. So, it just seemed like it would be nice if there was actually a purpose in taking them. ;)

On Wednesday, December 5th, we left Jade with Joanna for the day and Jerry and I headed first to Dr. Zhou's office in the morning and then to the MRI that was scheduled for later that afternoon.

The first item of business at the ENT's office was to get my hearing rechecked.  I was hopeful that there would be some improvement, but just based on how I had been hearing since starting the steroid regimen, I wasn't very confident. Sure enough, the audiologist didn't have good news. There was a questionable slight improvement in one tone in my left ear. Only 1 tone! Only slight improvement. I did not like this news. In fact it sent me into a bit of a panic as I was trying to remember the list of problems that Tim had mentioned could cause a hearing loss like this...acoustic neuroma, Menier's disease...not even sure what else. And I hadn't dared to google any of them either.

I was really disappointed. Jerry and I sat down on a bench just outside the hearing test booth because Dr. Zhou almost had a room ready for me. Jerry knew the look on my face. I was not far from crying. It was at that moment when I knew if I talked that the tears would start to flow, that I saw Tim. He was in between patients and came over to us. I managed to spit out, "There was no improvement in my hearing, Tim". He said very sincerely, "You are going to be okay. You're going to be okay." I can't say that at that moment I really believed him, but he was right. Here I am 4 months later...doing much better than "okay".

We met Dr. Zhou (delightful!) and she went over my chart and gave me some hope that the steroids may need a little more time to work. Which meant I needed to still keep taking them. Ugh. I could be the poster child for every negative effect they might have on a person. So. not. fun.  She told us about the possibility of doing steroid shots directly to the ear if the oral steroids did not work. It sounded interesting to me in effort to regain my hearing, but there were some risks with that too, mainly that sometimes the hole in your ear drum doesn't close and they have to fix it surgically. Bottom line was that we didn't have to decide that day, though the sooner we did the shots, the more likely they would be to work.

Dr. Zhou confirmed that I would have my MRI that afternoon and we should know more in a few days just based on it. She was also upbeat about the MRI...restating how rare it is for them to come back with anything. So after a quick stop at the lab to draw way too much blood ;), we left there contemplating steroid shots to the ear (video)...which at that time it seemed like a really big decision.

If only we had known all the decisions that were ahead of us.

The MRI will have to be its own post...I was so nervous about it. I even spoke to Tim the night before thinking I had come up with a good reason not to need it. Ha!

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