What I Learned About Happiness from Acoustic Neuroma Surgery
Since late November/December 2018, I felt something was seriously wrong with me, but I just couldn’t place it. In March, I told my wife Rebecca that I felt like I was dying. She asked what would make me say that. I told her that I couldn’t medically put my finger on why I would state such a drastic claim, but I just felt like my body was shutting down. She replied that we are all dying, but somehow I knew this was different. – Oh boy, were we about to find out how different!
A Chance to "Pay Forward" After Two Surgeries
In 2006, I began having unexplained falls, feeling disoriented, etc. I attributed these to becoming clumsy. My primary care doctor ordered an MRI. Due to a staff error in her office, it was ordered without contrast and the report was negative. The next step was seeing a balance specialist, which resulted in a diagnosis of labyrinthitis, an inflammation of the inner ear or the nerves that connect the inner ear to the brain. Prescription drugs did nothing to change my symptoms.
Getting Back in the Game
While in college, I led an active lifestyle, working out, playing various sports, and participating in a baseball league. I was having some difficulty hearing certain words and a hearing test revealed mild hearing loss in my left ear. The doctor chalked this up to me working in a loud automobile factory — the job that supported me through school, and listening to loud music.
Brain surgery was the easy part. I slept through it. My altered life and “new normal” started the moment I awoke. Due to the practiced hands of two brain surgeons whose patience outweighed mine, I was recovering from a nine-hour craniotomy. My head was now tumor-free, but the long and difficult operation resulted in chronic post-craniotomy pain.
I didn’t recognize at the time that I was entering the “in-between.” I was stuck between who I had been and someone I didn’t know yet. Unknown to me, my personal path would lead to disability: an outcome that was “worse than some and better than others.”