Author Topic: I feel dumb  (Read 27872 times)

phx

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I feel dumb
« on: October 06, 2010, 08:26:31 pm »
I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma during my 1st semester in grad school, ended up taking my 2nd semester off, and returned this semester. I've always loved learning, but it's finally hit me that learning may not be the way it was for me 3 years ago. My tumor is in the left side of my brain which supposedly controls speech. I'm wondering if that has anything to do with my speech problems. I speak two languages and english is my second language. I've brought it up at doctors visits, but it doesn't seem like it matters. I guess I want someone to tell me that "yes", it's possible that the tumor might have changed the way you talk. I think it's because I speak 2 languages and people just assume that I don't know my english that well. I know what I'm thinking, but sometimes to just say it out loud is difficult. I don't want to feel like I'm making excuses because I'm really not, but I need to know so that I can learn what I need to do to live with it. I feel like when people ignore what I say about my speech problems, that the problem is in my head and it's not real. It is real to me. I'm stressed because I don't know what to tell Professors and classmates. My first semester of grad school was hard because I was diagnosed. I was all excited and happy to return to find out that I'll never be the same. It's sad. Just thinking about it brings me to tears. Plus, my MRI and follow-up appointment is coming soon. Just needed to vent a little. I can see what people think about me when I talk. I sound and look unintelligent because of the way I express myself. What can I do? I don't like feeling this way and I just wish I can be "normal", but I know that's never going to happen. Does that mean I should give up school? It's always been a dream of mine to finish because it's what I want to do. How can I overcome this? Thanks!

CHD63

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2010, 09:10:41 pm »
Hi phx ......

You are not dumb ...... the writing in all of your posts is excellent!  You obviously are a very intelligent person with much to offer this world.

I am a bit confused as to whether your tumor ended up being a meningioma or a schwannoma.  Although I am not a doctor, from my research and my own experience, normally an acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) does not affect the speech center in the brain.  You did have a large tumor so it could have grown in an unusual way.  You should certainly ask your doctor to show you on an MRI image or draw you a picture of exactly where your tumor was (or is).  Meningiomas, on the other hand, can grow and press on the area of the speech/language part of the brain.

Yes, you may never be the same as before but many people on this forum can testify to their lives after an acoustic neuroma being equally rewarding and fulfilling, just in a different way.  Try to focus on what you can still do, not what you cannot.  This may be the opportunity to pursue all kinds of things you never thought you would ..... one of those turning points in life ..... not a turnaround.

You should not have to give up school but what you pursue and how fast you try to do it may need to be changed.

Many thoughts and prayers that you will find a new direction that will bring you peace and fulfillment.

Clarice
Right MVD for trigeminal neuralgia, 1994, Pittsburgh, PA
Left retrosigmoid 2.6 cm AN removal, February, 2008, Duke U
Tumor regrew to 1.3 cm in February, 2011
Translab AN removal, May, 2011 at HEI, Friedman & Schwartz
Oticon Ponto Pro abutment implant at same time; processor added August, 2011

Kaybo

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2010, 09:15:48 pm »
phx~
I am so sorry that this is happening to you!  I know exactly how that feels.  Are you going into a field where you will be doing speaking (public) like law or teaching?  I think that it gets easier over time...I don't know if that is because as you age you realize who is REALLY important to your life or it just becomes easier to flat out say, "I had a brain tumor & sometimes I get my words mixed up or the right word doesn't come to me as quickly."  For me, the more tired or stressed I am plays a HUGE role in my speech - & I can only imagine that grad school would put you in a constant state of both.  Cut yourself a little slack, you are MUCH harder on yourself!!

K   ;D
Translab 12/95@Houston Methodist(Baylor College of Medicine)for "HUGE" tumor-no size specified
25 yrs then-14 hour surgery-stroke
12/7 Graft 1/97
Gold Weight x 5
SSD
Facial Paralysis-R(no movement or feelings in face,mouth,eye)
T3-3/08
Great life!

moe

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2010, 10:19:23 pm »
So sorry to hear of your angst concerning your speech.
good suggestion from Kaybo, and like Clarice said you are not dumb.
Don't know if a speech therapist would be in order here, or just an evaluation, to get you back on track and help gain your confidence back?
Hang in there.. You have had surgery AND CK so you are still healing.
Maureen
06/06-Translab 3x2.5 vascular L AN- MAMC,Tacoma WA
Facial nerve cut,reanastomosed.Tarsorrhaphy
11/06. Gold weight,tarsorrhaphy reversed
01/08- nerve transposition-(12/7) UW Hospital, Seattle
5/13/10 Gracilis flap surgery UW for smile restoration :)
11/10/10 BAHA 2/23/11 brow lift/canthoplasty

Lizard

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2010, 10:38:29 am »
Phx,
I'm sorry you feel this way, but you are not alone.  I have a tough time recalling words sometimes and find myself using a lot of fillers, especially when I'm stressed or tired.  Try to give yourself some slack, but remember to stay positive and do not quit school.  I finished my MBA after my AN surgery and it was tough to say the least, but I just made it known to the faculty and they all seemed to understand.  In fact a professor allowed me to take a full section of a class because it was earlier in the evening and he knew I would do better the earlier in the day. I was somewhat self concious, but just try not to fixate on it.
hang in there and don't give up!
Liz
Left AN 2.5CM,retrosigmoid 11/2008, second surgery to repair CSF leak. 
Headaches began immediately.  Dr. Ducic occipital nerve resection, December 2011!!!!!

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on"
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Doc

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2010, 12:21:22 pm »
For the sake of this posting, I'm going to assume you're a man. Dude, relax!  ;D Four weeks after having my Golf Ball Sized Brain Booger removed I was back at my desk and, during that first week back closed more than 100K in new business (only out for four weeks). I sounded like I'd just left the Dentist, still num from the Novocain.  I was easily able to make my point (cognitive ability unhampered). Was easily understood and, above all, welcomed back by all with a fervor I hadn't expected.

For what its worth, I also speak two languages. English is my first and Japanese my second. I still get back handed compliments from our Japanese clients that I sound like an Osaka Cab Driver...mouth full of marbles and all!

You'll be fine...time heals just about everything us ANer's have to deal with!

Take Care and Study Hard!
  ;)
Doc
« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 12:30:58 pm by Doc »
Left-Translab July '09. Cyberknife Jan 2010. In Apr 2017, four more tumors found; three in the brain and one, 7cm long, on my spinal cord; it was surgically removed. It was cancerous, and so are the others. I've been receiving Chemo since June '18, and I'm still in treatment.

Jim Scott

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2010, 02:39:22 pm »
Phx ~

I'm sorry to learn about your speech problems, which are clearly distressing you.  I can understand your anxiety over this situation and I hope you'll find the courage to fight back and surmount this challenge.  I'm not a doctor and have no idea if your debulked/radiated AN is the cause of your speech difficulties.  However, I would suggest consulting a speech/language pathologist who may be able to help you.  Dropping out of grad school should not be an option at this point.  You've come too far to simply give up on your educational goal.  We 're all acutely aware of how we appear to others and your feelings of inadequacy in regard to your speaking English - your second language - are real and need to be dealt with, not succumbed to as something intractable.  You certainly aren't 'dumb' and with some effort and determination (and possible professional help - a speech/language pathologist) you'll be able to speak as well as you once did.  Don't allow yourself to be a victim and never downgrade your own sense of worth based on one perceived 'flaw'.  Many post-op AN patients deal with problems including facial paralysis and severe headaches, but they fight back and eventually overcome their deficits.  You can too.  We're here to support you so let us know how you're doing.  Thanks. 

Jim
4.5 cm AN diagnosed 5/06.  Retrosigmoid surgery 6/06.  Follow-up FSR completed 10/06.  Tumor shrinkage & necrosis noted on last MRI.  Life is good. 

Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is.  The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.

Tod

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2010, 05:20:23 pm »
Phx, I'm not clear on what you are describing as the problem - is it the mechanics of speech or the ability to articulate your thoughts?

I have trouble with the mechanics of speech, While it gives me more time to think and organize my thoughts, it is very difficult to get the words out at times. Sometimes, I have trouble following things.

The good news is that I work in higher education (at the state level, not on a campus) and colleagues, including those I have just met, are amazingly tolerant and patient the great majority of time. Most of the times in higher ed, people recognize that we go through different phases and challenges in life.

Now, you may find that things have changed for you. Let me suggest that if anything has changed, it is most likely NOT your ability to learn, but rather your most successful style of learning has changed. And you may not have found the new style  that works best for you yet. Give yourself time and realize also that you have been away from school for awhile...it may simply be that you need time to re-acclimate.

In short, don't give up school...the semester isn't even half over yet.

-Tod
Bob the tumor: 4.4cm x 3.9cm x 4.1 cm.
Trans-Lab and Retro-sigmoid at MCV on 2/12/2010.

Removed 90-95% in a 32 hour surgery. Two weeks in ICU.  SSD Left.

http://randomdatablog.com

BAHA implant 1/25/11.

28 Sessions of FSR @ MCV ended 2/9/12.

kenneth_k

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2010, 05:15:38 am »
Hi.

Maybe its a concentration issue. Your brain is working overtime adjusting to your new self. I read somewhere that most of our perception is subconcious (hearing, seeing, balance). Now you have to percieve in a concious process. That is slower and harder to do.

I hope your problems will ease as times go by.

Best regards, Kenneth

saralynn143

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 09:11:18 am »
phx - are you on any medications? I was on Tegretol when my hemifacial spasms were at their worst, and it caused me to forget words all the time. I would literally stop mid-sentence trying to figure out what I wanted to say. Whenever I mentioned this to family, friends, even my neurologist, they would say, "Oh, don't worry. It's just getting older. Happens to me all the time."

Uh, no. Once I had my surgery and dropped the Tegretol, my speech returned to normal.

Anyway, if you are on medications, look into them. And certainly I believe that your tumor could have something to do with it as well.

Best wishes,
Sara
MVD for hemifacial spasm 6/2/08
left side facial paresis
 12/100 facial function - 7/29/08
 46 - 11/25/08
 53 - 05/12/09
left side SSD approx. 4 weeks
 low-frequency hearing loss; 85% speech recognition 7/28/08
1.8 gram thin profile platinum eyelid weight 8/12/08
Fitted for scleral lens 5/9/13

phx

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2010, 09:17:05 pm »
Thanks everyone for the support and encouragement. I think my concentration and the way I process words are a little off now because I've lost the hearing in my left side. Everythings been removed, so the ear is what the audiologist calls a "dead" ear. I was talking to someone and she said having my hearing all gone from the one ear might be causing me to process things differently. I explained to her how someone would be talking to me and I'd still be processing 2 sentences back while they're 2 sentences ahead. I've got a doctor's appointment and I'm definitely going to ask questions. I feel like I still don't know all the changes that are occuring in my body and I guess this makes me uncomfortable. I've been feeling tired lately and I'm not sure what that is. Might be stress.

Thanks again. This forum is wonderful!

CHD63

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2010, 08:51:39 am »
phx .....

The brain has an amazing capability of reassigning tasks when there is an injury or surgical insult.  It just takes a while to make the necessary changes to accommodate for the loss of function in a certain area.

Pre-surgery I had "perfect pitch" in that I could hum any note requested or identify the pitch of any sound.  I lost 80% of the hearing in my AN ear but still retain 100% speech discrimination.  Shortly after surgery, my doctor picked up the telephone in my hospital room, put it to my good ear and asked if I could hear the dial tone.  Of course I could.  Then he put it to my AN ear and asked the same thing.  I said yes.  He was ecstatic.  What I did not explain to him at the time was that although I could hear it softly, it was about a quarter tone higher in pitch than my normal ear.  This meant that everything in the musical world sounded terribly out of tune.  I was devastated as this was not only my profession but my enjoyment, as well.  It took months, but my brain finally adjusted and I no longer register the out of tune sounds.  When I listen to the dial tone with each ear, the pitch is still different.  My brain has just learned to process the input information differently.  I apparently have lost the perfect pitch in the process, but that is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.

I hope something of that made sense in that you will eventually learn to process speech with your new inputs.  I did not take time to look back at your previous posts, but are you considering a BAHA?  That may help with the brain rearranging input.

Best thoughts and let us know what the doctor says.

Clarice
Right MVD for trigeminal neuralgia, 1994, Pittsburgh, PA
Left retrosigmoid 2.6 cm AN removal, February, 2008, Duke U
Tumor regrew to 1.3 cm in February, 2011
Translab AN removal, May, 2011 at HEI, Friedman & Schwartz
Oticon Ponto Pro abutment implant at same time; processor added August, 2011

phx

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2010, 07:46:04 pm »
Hi Clarice,

I talked to my doctor about BAHA. He wasn't sure that would do much for me. Something about how the all sounds would be rerouted to my good ear. My good ear is still working great, so the doctor says there may not be much of a difference. Truly, I think because I only have one good ear now, all that noise can be distracting. All I know for now is, I got to take care of my good ear. Thanks for the suggestion.

Kaybo

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2010, 08:21:53 pm »
phx~
I don't totally understand EVERYTHING that there is to a BAHA but I thought that that was excactly what you wanted - one ear that DOESN'T work (SSD) and one that DOES!!!  I am not a good candidate because I have gone so long (almost 15 years) & so my brain has compesated.  BAHA's were not around then so I went for many years without a good substitute and so I guess my brain retrained itself.  I can't see how it WOULDN'T help you...


K   ;D
Translab 12/95@Houston Methodist(Baylor College of Medicine)for "HUGE" tumor-no size specified
25 yrs then-14 hour surgery-stroke
12/7 Graft 1/97
Gold Weight x 5
SSD
Facial Paralysis-R(no movement or feelings in face,mouth,eye)
T3-3/08
Great life!

phx

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Re: I feel dumb
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2010, 08:28:23 pm »
I should have the doctor explain so I understand it better. They way they said it to me was the I was already hearing everything with my good ear and there was no sense in putting one in. Does that have something to do with the cochlear? When he explained it, it made sense to me. It might just be me explaining it.

 


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