Acoustic Neuroma Association
600 Peachtree Parkway
Suite 108
Cumming, GA 30041

Life Can Change in an Instant
Jerikah Cato

One morning I woke up with constant ringing in my left ear. I didn’t think anything of it and mentioned it to my primary doctor a few months later. She asked if I had any vertigo and I remembered having episodes in the past. I also told her about my migraines which I’d had for years.

I saw an ENT soon after and my hearing test revealed significant hearing loss in my left ear which led to an MRI. I viewed the CD of my MRI scan and saw a large mass and my heart sank. As I waited for my next ENT appointment, my mind was racing in many directions thinking about how my life was about to change.

The ENT referred me to a surgeon that specialized in acoustic neuromas and it seemed like it took forever for my appointment to arrive. My acoustic neuroma measured 4.5 cm and was compressing my brain stem. The surgeon told me that I would lose hearing in my left ear. I was scheduled for surgery two days later. That was one year ago – on March 17, 2022. I had only two days to prepare for the surgery.  Thankfully, my family came to help my husband and our two small kids.

My surgery was 13 ½ hours. The surgeons left residual tumor on my facial nerve to prevent facial paralysis. I was in neuro ICU for about 12 hours then I was transferred to a regular room and started physical therapy using a walker.  I felt so weak. After five days in the hospital, I went home with the walker.

The first three weeks were rough. I was sensitive to sounds and was also trying to manage my pain. Eventually, I started getting out more to help rebuild my strength. I was able to return to work at six weeks.

Overall, I had a successful surgery and recovery with no complications. Looking back, I never truly grasped what I was about to go through - it happened so fast.  I’ll be forever grateful that my tumor was found and for my surgeons and their medical team.  I’m also grateful for my family and their help getting me through this. While I’m still getting used to this new lifestyle, I know that with time, I will get there. Life can change in an instant. 

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