My Forty Year AN Story
In the early 1980’s I was working in the steel industry in Illinois. During phone conversations, I began to notice that everyone I spoke with sounded like Donald Duck, so I switched the handset to my right side and I could hear perfectly. I saw a doctor about this and he diagnosed as an inner ear infection and gave me some ear drops.
A few months later I accepted a position at an Indiana steel mill and failed a hearing test for my left ear (OSHA requirement). The nurse recommended I see an ENT, which led to the discovery process and the eventual diagnosis of a 5 cm AN.
After meeting with a neurosurgeon to review my options, I was scheduled for translab surgery in February 1983 at age 32. After 12 hours of surgery, I was not tolerating the procedure well. The decision was made to stop the surgery. After seven days in the hospital, I had a second surgery to remove the tumor. It was a success!
Even though the surgery resulted in left sided SSD, facial paralysis, extreme dry eye pain, and inability to blink my left eye, it was a success because I was alive!
I attended an ANA symposium in Atlanta a couple of years later and learned about gold weights for the eyelid. A few months later, I had the procedure. Unfortunately, after a few months, the gold weight was not enough to close the eye, and I had tarsorrhaphies performed which helped. For over 35 years, eye lubricants have been part of my daily routine.
After retirement, my wife and I moved to central Oregon. I spend my time showing off our two Checker taxi automobiles (one yellow and one white). I also play bass guitar with three bands - oldies rock, coffee-house folk and cowboy/country & western.
What’s my take-away after 40 years?
- A full and rewarding life can go on after acoustic neuroma surgery
- I’m grateful for medical staff and technologies that help us through these situations
- You are not alone: we are a community of survivors
- Play the hand you are dealt. What else are you going to do? I spent most of my life in front of people, dealing with tough issues or playing bass guitar, knowing I looked differently and spoke differently (I sometimes have difficulty pronouncing words clearly). You still have a life to lead!