Finding My Way Post-Surgically with the Assistance of Holistic/Alternative Practices
My journey into holistic medicine began with my son who was diagnosed with asthma and allergies. As the years passed, my son experienced several other health issues. After years of antibiotics, steroids, inhalers, and nebulizer machines, I finally said, “enough is enough.” I was in search of physical freedom for him and was, unknowingly, preparing for my own future health struggle with a 3.2 cm acoustic neuroma.
I turned to holistic and homeopathic doctors as a last-ditch effort to help my son. It took about a year of re-balancing his digestive system through vitamins, digestive enzymes and other supplements, and a major shift in what he was eating for him to regain his health. I was so astonished by his physical transformation that I wrote and published a book on how we eliminated disease from his daily life.
How does any of this relate to us – individuals who have been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma? Many of us “AN warriors” suffer daily from physical side effects from the tumor, surgical procedures, and radiation treatments. I firmly believe we can empower ourselves and our family members to take control of our health to some degree by becoming educated on both holistic health modalities and western medicine principles to guide us on our journeys.
I believe we can utilize both (integrative medicine) to achieve quality health and healing. Holistic health incorporates the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health of an individual. It connects the body, mind, and spirit, or the “whole” of who we are as human beings. I utilized both holistic and modern medicine to assist me with my diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. I know that this complementary approach to my health helped contribute to the foundation of my successful recovery and ongoing healing process. I will never forget the day that changed my life forever. It was November 5, 2012, when my ENT told me I had a 3.2 cm benign brain tumor. At age forty-one I thought I was going to die! I was suffering from weird symptoms including minor balance issues, ringing in my ear, pressure headaches, and tingling on my right cheek. After much reflection, prayer, and research, I underwent surgery to remove my silent friend. I did, however, have many significant side effects including severe double vision, single-sided deafness, tinnitus, fatigue, and balance issues, but I was extremely grateful to be alive. My biggest, and unforeseen, post-surgery obstacle was ongoing anxiety that left me a shell of the person I was before surgery.
One minute I was laughing, having dinner with my kids, and the next minute I was on the ground, feeling an overwhelming fear that something was terribly wrong. My initial thought was, “After all I have been through and survived, I am going to die on my kitchen floor with my children looking on.” Besides having to adjust to the new sensory and physical challenges that come with having brain surgery, I also had to figure out how to overcome the anxiety that I felt in every fiber of my being.
I realized that I had to put in place practices that helped my son through the years. It was now my turn to take some time for myself and begin to heal on many different levels. Did I think I was going to cure my SSD, double vision, tinnitus, fatigue, or 'wonky' feeling? No, but I realized I could empower myself through alternative practices to help strengthen my body and change my thought process about what I was experiencing.
These days I feel good, although I do have residual surgery side effects. But, my double vision is virtually gone, my anxiety has been greatly reduced, and I have less fatigue and more energy. Sometimes I am able to control the volume of the tinnitus. I am less focused on my challenges and more focused on enjoying life. My vestibular system is in better balance. I now focus less on the ‘wonkiness’. I communicate more effectively and set realistic boundaries for myself, and I feel a greater awareness of my body and what it needs from me on a daily basis to function as best it can.