ANA Discussion Forum
Pre-Treatment Options => Pre-Treatment Options => Topic started by: Sam-NewZealand on December 04, 2012, 09:48:52 pm
Introducing myself here, I have just been told i'm requiring surgery as the tumour is pressing on my brainstem.
History is i had hearing loss on left side tested in 2010 - showed loss but no further testing put down as viral or something. Now at 29 having had another test and results showed further loss and constant Tininus i was sent to a ENT specialist June 2012. Outcome was MRI ordered with expected 3 month wait, possible insertion of a gromit, again most likely viral but be aware in rare cases AN may be present usually no further action required if it is. 3 months later i'm getting headaches - painful and often with stars, ear feeling fuller and general uncomfortable all round, gaining weight and feeling lazy but busy working 2 jobs, project managing a renovation and completing two study papers. I rang specialist who said no i wont upgrade MRI to urgent but come in for gromit to see if it may help. I decided to spend my money on a second opinion - thoughts here were yes need MRI, also order a set of blood to rule out .... (can't remember) - no point in trying gromits and possible but uncommon that AN may be cause and if it is most likely outcome is monitoring.
16th Nov - MRI day ... 40 min MRI with contrast added half way through, 8 scans preformed. Side affects felling terrible like hungover but full and heavy tired head. 3 days later results at GP & got sent through to 2nd specialist. GP nurse rang to ensure i had an appointment with specialist - this confirmed my thoughts on findings & i asked for MRI results copied to me ... after reading i learnt of confirmed tumour 2.5 + . Saw specialist 3 Dec, explained AN - due to size and placement it is pressing into my brainstem and surgery likely. Case refereed to a specialist in Auckland who will preform surgery likely to go through the ear and remove tumour, possible removal will reduce tinnitus and remove any hearing from the left ear (which i'm keen to preserve what is left!) So currently researching my options and possible outcomes - feeling alone as NZ doesn't seem to have the network USA does, but hoping to get there. Community and friends showing support but am feeling anxious and fearful of the procedure. Noticing lots of dizziness and vertigo, Dyslexia, memory loss, balance disruption coinciding with hitting the odd door frame or wall and overall overwhelm of jobs to be done v's tiredness and lack of motivation.
Sure is a place i didn't see myself being so young, i'm a mum to two girls 5 & 3 yrs old and its frightening for them as well to see mum in tears so much. :'( but i sure hope quality of life is better after surgery.
Gidday, Sam and welcome to the ANA discussion forum. I'm sorry you've been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma but glad you found our site, decieded to register and post.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed at receiving an AN diagnosis is perfectly normal. We've all been there and can certainly relate to what you're feeling. AN surgery is a bit daunting but thousands have gone through it and come out O.K. I underwent AN surgery to debulk a 4.5 cm AN, then underwent radiation to destroy the remaining tumor's DNA and stop it from re-growing. Both procedures were successful and six years later, the tumor is dead and I'm doing fine. :)
To be honest, AN surgery can involve some complications so choosing a doctor with plenty of experience in AN removal is crucial to helping ensure a good surgical outcome. Obviously, I can't offer any doctor/hospital recommendations in your country but I can offer you the understanding and support of a host of other folks, mostly here in the states, that will be eager to answer whatever questions they can and give you encouragement and the kind of empathy only other AN patients can give.
My advice is not to allow your fears and worries to control your life. Acoustic neuromas are 99% benign and treatable. Your youth is a plus as your ability to heal from the surgery will be enhanced and your two girls will be a constant motivation to your recovery. I'm confident that you'll do just fine, Sam and please remember that we'll all be here to support you.
I live in Adelaide Australia. A city similar in size to Aukland.
I am hearing your concerns.
Unfortunately where we live means the case loads of the surgeons in treating AN is often low.
The best surgical results are coming from a team of two surgeons. Typically a Neurosurgeon and an ENT Surgeon. This method was pioneered at House in the US and is a practice that has been copied by many in AN removals. The team of surgeons also need to have done quite a few AN surgeries before their complication rates drop. There are a number of medical papers on this.
One paper somewhere says they should have done at least 20 operations, and do at least 10 a year
The best results come from surgeons who have performed over 50 AN surgeries and do more than 20 per year.
However some surgeons still do it alone, and only do a few per year, and the results are not as good.
Its a difficult operation...
So do ask your surgeon if he works as a pair or on his own
Ask how many AN surgeries he has performed.
Ask about death rates.
I was first introduced to the world of AN after a friend 32 died after surgery for a 2cm tumour.
Death rates are around 0.5% in Australia I believe, which is similar to most modern countries.
Death rates and complications do vary a lot, between doctors.
They can be higher than 2% for some surgeons and virtually nil for others.
You are probably a candidate for radiation and there is a chance that your hearing can be preserved.
You may want to investigate Gamma Knife which is now available in Sydney..
Gamma Knife is now largely covered by the Australian Medicare System. Possibly the bilateral agreement between Australia and New Zealand will help reduce the cost. You may want to investigate this.
There are also higher case load surgeons in Sydney and Melbourne, or even explore going outside of Australia and New Zealand.
Due to similar concerns to yourself I ended up having my AN treated at the European Cyberknife Centre in Munich Germany. Dr Alexander Muacevic. The whole procedure took 2 hours. Mask making and planning CT scan, that was about 30 minutes. Cyberknife was 35 minutes. the rest of the time was talking with Dr Muaceveic, for as long as I wanted. Flew out of Adelaide Saturday lunchtime was back home thursday... Dr Muaceveic is currently the president of the radiosurgery society and one of the most experience radiosurgeons in the world.
The European Cyberknife centre has treated many hundreds of AN's I believe close to 1000 AN's.
Extremely happy with Dr Muacevic, and the result.
Australia did not have Gamma Knife or Cyberknife in July 2010
I believe New Zealand does not have Cyberknife or Gamma Knife.
I am also hearing about positive outcomes from the Australian Gamma Knife Centre in Sydney.
Don't be afraid to look outside New Zealand for the best outcome.
Do lots of research.
There is some really good information in the members section of the ANA website and some great insights provided by the best experts in the world at the ANA symposium. These papers are available for download in the members section.
I'm very impressed with the reaching out for information you are doing. Having little ones and working full-time leave limited time and energy to deal with tumors. My thoughts are with you.
thank you all for replying, yes i'm exhausted -finally stopping to let diagnosis set in and to aid my body better. I called my specialist RE referral as i hadn't heard anything and within 3 opening hours max (waiting for Dr Hamish Sillars to come back in clinic) i was called with an appointment for Tuesday afternoon ... so Tuesday will be full of driving to Auckland (5 hours) But i can't wait for more information and answers to my concerns.
Paul - I agree in looking around and at options .. it appears they are ruling out radiation at this stage & i feel confident about this as its affecting me more then i first thought and need some definite results with surgery.
Jim - thank you for you're insight - it amazes me just how little info was out there so i'm very fortunate for this forum. I've been through a few hours of pure emotional frustration as i've found in NZ that you seem to get suck in the paths specialists send you & it appears AN's are becoming more common in NZ so i'm fortunate to learn that Dr Sillars has done about 300 ish AN operations, up to 20 a year & often works with another specialist during surgery.
Karen - i'm fortunate i have a great family for support and have stepped back from many duties to enable me to focus on this xx
So i'm looking forward to the next step - noticing tiredness, dizzyness and confusion more along with being very emotional of course. I'm starting a list of questions and keeping positive but its still a big shock and i find dealing with telling people the most draining - like a record on repeat ... we will get there though
I am soooooo glad you have support at home! Please keep us updated.
surgery booked! ... going private 45K NZD but hope insurance will help out, i'd rather sort this tumour out and i'm not finding many other options.
so on the 25th Jan i'll be having it removed by Dr Hamish Sillars assisted by Dr Robert Gun in Auckland .. so far private hospital and food look great lol ... on a serious note though after the trip to Auckland to meet and chat with Dr Sillars i found him really positive and had a few impressive stats on history of AN surgery + he offered me an opportunity to chat with past patients.
but its 11pm here and i need to sleep - night all
I agree in looking around and at options .. it appears they are ruling out radiation at this stage & i feel confident about this as its affecting me more then i first thought and need some definite results with surgery.
Sam, it sounds like you are committed to surgery and have disregarded radiation treatments, so I'll make this brief. My only concern is that you may not have gotten a second opinion from a radiation specialist. Just because your tumor is touching the brainstem does not necessarily rule out radiation treatments. And surgery may not give you the "definite results" you're seeking. Have you asked your surgeons what the chance is, in percentage terms, of the surgery causing permanent facial paralysis? For a tumor your size, the risk of permanent facial paralysis is usually exponentially higher with surgery than with radiation. Especially considering you are a young woman, you owe it to yourself to ask your doctors what the chances are of permanent disfiguration, if you haven't already asked.
If you're open to getting a second opinion about radiation, I and others can provide you with contact information for leading practitioners who will review your MRI and give you their recommendation for free.
Surgery may indeed be the best or only viable treatment option for you. I'm just concerned you may be rushing into it with false expectations, not enough info, and without thoroughly researching your other options.
hey TW :)
Yes I agree I haven't gone to a radiation specialist. I have taken word of my specialist that looking at his research and other information I have read that my instincts are right. Its kind of hard to explain but after diagnosis i feel at rest with relief, like i have always known something was unique about me and my mind and so much stuff has got worse over the years which has been easy to fob off to other things - tiredness = mum with waking kids all night etc. But the numb sensation setting into my face and the ongoing variations of pain in my head need me to make choices and action. Surgery i can have paid with help of insurance - however radiation will not be covered and they wouldn't know when it would happen in New Zealand as i'd be in the public system & we don't have a GK to my knowledge of asking and research. ... maybe its selfish but i can't wait that long, the tumour has been there for a long time as the bone has grown in a wide < instead of a = to accommodate it - i just want to feel better then this, i've been working on me for about 3-5 years almost solid - therapist to therapist and i'm at the end of my faith to deal with looking past removal and i feel 'robbed' that i haven't done something 2 years ago when if i was more proactive in following up my doctor then action may have come sooner. ... hard to explain, i'm at a real low today and have 4-5 kids to watch from 9am - 3pm :)
It sounds like things are falling into place. My thoughts are with you.
Sam, it sounds like your gut is telling you you've made the right decision (and therefore you have!). That's the most important thing. I was concerned that you hadn't yet reached that point and that your decision was premature. But you sound resolute and at peace. Congrats on moving forward.
i bet you feel much better with your surgery booked..Im in that process right now. If you dont mind me asking, what type of surgery did you chose?
Thanks TW :) ... i agree it all has moved fast & i still question the approach and loosing all hearing in my left ear .... its daunting but that is the only issue i'm questioning.
Hey ewchisek - YES amazing how a date can really help with the process, i'm booked for Translab Surgery & although it sounds the best option i still worry about the fact all hearing will be lost - how are you going on your journey?
Weekend has been full of tiredness and hay-fever :(
I'm over in Melbourne, Australia and have just been reading about your diagnosis. Really sorry to hear about it, it's certainly not an easy journey to go on.
I am 27 years of age, and have a Facial Nerve Neuroma (which is slightly different to your tumor, in that mine is on my facial nerve). While the tumor's themselves are different, I wanted to try and give you insight into the loss of hearing.
I had surgery in June 2011 for what the surgeons thought was an AN - turned out that they discovered a FN, and it was 5cm+. They removed as much as they could without severing the nerve, however the operation did mean that I lost all hearing on my left side.
I want to re-assure you as much as I can, that while losing your hearing on one side is daunting, it is not as bad as you think it will be. I have found it to be a mere nuisance more than anything else, and really only notice it when I am out at loud places such as the pub, sporting events etc.
You will quickly learn to position yourself to the left of everyone else, so that you can hear the majority of people without any trouble. It becomes second nature very quickly, in that you will find yourself standing on everyone's left hand side without even realising you've done it.
It does take some getting used to, but please try not to stress too much about it. Nearly everyone in your life, be it on a professional or personal basis, will do whatever they can to make you comfortable in your surroundings. It can be a challenge, but it is very bearable.
I wish you all the luck in the world for your surgery, and I know you will have a quick & smooth recovery.
All the best,
Hey Matt - thanks for your post it has helped me making another step closer to acceptance. Yes its the annoying thing that's getting to me too though + worry the tinnitis may become worse ... Small price to pay in the long run, but would be nice to think i could be 'normal' again after the surgery. I guess I've never 'been' sick & even birthed my youngest at home. Hospitals and surgeries really aren't my thing so its making this hurdle higher to jump and overcome. Plus my weight is increasing with emotional eating so feeling that I'm failing myself and my dreams at the moment.
its a low day with a feeling of overwhemingness, husband out working til late so am solo with kids & the jobs to be done are endless (and maybe even unrealistic) the dishwasher just became un-repairable and the stove thermostats for the rings and oven just went .... trying not t sweat the small stuff but geewizz can i get a break now?
xx thanks again Matt & everyone for the support :)
Hang in there, Sam...I had trans-lab Oct. 17th and am still recovering. I am 65-you are young and will heal more quickly. I am slowly adjusting to the complete hearing loss left side-I had 40 percent before the surgery. There are hearing devices to look at when the doctor says it's time.
Let your family support you all they can. This is a stressful time, and the other failings of every day life do not help.
Choose your doctors as best you can and then have faith.
Including you in my prayers.
pleased to hear your surgery went well :) i wish my family were here to support me better - like everyone though really they are all there to listen and talk but when it comes to actually being a full time mum with kids and house hold chores its down to me really - i mean as much as people say let me know if i can help in any way, i'm hardly going to ask them to scrub my toilet am i .... of stop my kids fighting yet i'm to tired and over emotional to be wasting energy on toilets!
still all support is very appreciated and welcomed. I'm going to start writing on my blog again, another way to keep my thoughts together and acknowledge the journey i'm on :)
so count down is on! .... still emotional, having tears more often then not. Mostly over the loss of my hearing but after much investigation i know translab is the best approach and i'd rather lose the hearing over having my facial nerve greatly affected - even though we still haven't be told how affected by the tumour that is. Hearing devices after surgery don't seem possible? .. only a transmitter no cochlear etc available here.
so on the 23rd hubby and i head away for a night & to break the 5 hour drive to surgery, i'll be admitted the night before and we will be getting started at about 6am from what I gather. .... time toe seriously start looking at the other side.
We also got some family photos done yesterday: even though i'm so tired they do look good - i love my family.
Stay strong and brave for you and your beautiful family, Sam! You can do this. REcovery will take time, it varies for all of us, but you will get better.
Thanks Millie :)
Today is admittance day to Ascot Auckland .... what to do for the 8 hours until admittance. Translab Operation set to start first thing in the morning and last for 6 - 8 hours. Looking forward to operation removal so i can get onto recovery, fear and nervousness seems to be ok so far. So glad for hubby to be here for the whole journey. Hoping i can get him to add an update after surgery . Till then xx
My thoughts and prayers go out to you as you approach your AN surgery. I'm sure you'll do well and we look forward to an update whenever that becomes possible.
9:15 am 25 Jan 2013 in Aukland
Surgery has probably started
My thoughts are with you.
Hope to hear good things soon.
Lots of positive vibes and wishes from the other side of the ditch....
(for those non Australians or New Zealanders. Other side of the ditch = Australia)
You are probably halfway thru the surgery...praying for you.
We are praying for you.
Praying for you too! Relax it's in HIS hands now, rest assured you've picked well! Here's to a speedy recovery!
Day 3 postie!!!
Doing well all needles and head bandage off, facial nerve was stretched over tumour but so far still has movemnet in it. Facial sensory nerve brused too resulting in numb tounge feeling that comes and goes apart from eye drops contnuing i feel rather good. Dr said its on of the tricyiest he has seen with both soft and hard patches in it. Thinking i willbe out of hospital tomorrow or definately the next. Missing my girls but know this is the best place to be. Thank you for support i am so pleased to be past the surgery now.
Congratulations, Sam! We're all hoping you have a fast recovery.
Thanks so much for the post-surgical update. It would appear that you're progressing nicely, all things considered. We're praying for your recovery to be both swift and complete! :)
You sound wonderful! The surgery seems to have gone very well. I too have some numbness or a burned sensation on the left side of my tongue.
I hope you are on your feet soon. Take it slowly and steadily. Praying for you, Sam
So good to hear from you Sam! Have been thinking and praying for you! I hope everything continues to get better. Rest up and you will be home with your girls in no time!
So good to hear from you! Sounds like you are doing well! I still have numbness in my tongue also but it should go away. So glad you are doing well!! You will need lots of rest so let your family pamper you for awhile! Welcome to the postie world :)
getting there but had a horific night of pain Monday & tuesday i developed discharge from my L ear .... now its a clear constant drip. Am on antibiotics and ear drops but seeing my local specialist tomorrow when i get my stitches out. Has anyone else had this?
It sounds like a CSF leak. (brain fluid). Its not an unusual complication after AN surgery, but is potentially problematic too.
You may want to do something about this sooner rather than later. CSF leaks can lead to fairly serious infections amongst other things.
Worth getting it checked out fairly quickly I would think.
i'm seeing local specialist at 11.30am tomorrow, and just txt to update my surgeon. ....heres hoping it can stop naturally
called surgeon ... back to auckland for 2nd surgery >:(
Praying for you...
So sorry you had this happen. I had a CSF leak too but healed and did not have to have surgery. Praying all goes well!! Please let us know how you are doing when you are able!!
The leaking has slowed at the momment... I'm hoping for it to stop ... have until monday arvo when surgery is scheduled ... any tips on how it may stop? So pleased to hear yours stopped Glenda was it constant?
No, mine was through the nose and it was occasional drips. They kept getting less and less until they stopped. Thank goodness! They monitored it for a few days and decided it was healing itself. I hope yours clears up on its own too! Praying for you!
well the dropping out the ear has stopped but last night i had a few out the nose which has now slowed to a few down the throat every now and then ... i have managed to have the surgery put through the public system next friday (7days) so maybe by then it will have stopped. Surgeon said that as its two weeks after initial surgery that it started then the chances of it healing are slim - hope to prove him that in my case it can though !
I hope you indeed prove the Dr wrong! Will pray you do so! Hang in there!!
Had a bad spot last night where my brain fluid is too low and causing sever pain :( could hardly sleep so pleased to be admitted now just one sleep and surgery at 7am then I can stop injesting CSF yay.
Prays and thoughts appreciative for this second surgery xx
Out of surgery . Went fab feel great just have a sore jaw xx now bring me that icecream and jelly nurses! Xx
So glad to hear your surgery went well-now take your time to recover and heal. Do you have family to help with the children? You need to rest and be gentle on yourself in early recovery. I am four months out of trans-lab and I can attest to "It gets better." Praying for you, Sam! Millie
I had not signed in in awhile so am just reading this! So happy that you had your surgery and are better!! I hope you are getting better each day!!
Hi Glenda & Millie :)
Getting better, slowly, i was having episodes of a throbbing head 7/10 pain and I went to my osteopath who re-aligned the bones in my head - since i have slept for one solid night 10pm - 7am!) and the throbbing episodes are decreasing WOOHOO!
today i really feel like i'm on the mend - 5 weeks after Acoustic Neuroma surgery & 3 weeks after CSF Leak surgery .. nice feeling
Thanks for all the support, i'm starting to re-write my journey on my blog http://samssnips.blogspot.co.nz/ and its been really healing as well.
So happy to hear this good news!!! Woo Hoo!!! You have been through so much, it's time you were feeling better!! ;D
There are things we have to adjust to with the new us but we are strong and can do this! Hang in there and continue to feel better!!