Does anyone have success stories with little to no side effects? Jim, what is life like for you?
These forums are full of success stories (3 have been posted here, already). You have to bear in mind that this is a support site for AN patients and our forums will often seem to be over-represented by AN patients that are experiencing problems following surgery or radiation and are seeking advice, information and support. We're happy to be able to offer all of those. The fact that our members are almost all AN patients makes their comments a lot more credible to someone, like you, newly diagnosed. However, even though AN surgery and/or irradiation certainly does carry some risks, AN treatment is not automatically going to leave you with intractable problems. In fact, most post-op issues are usually temporary or can be surmounted with therapy - and time. We have some marvelous folks posting here who came out of surgery with facial paralysis and other problems but over time, regained facial normality and overcame other deficits. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
That stated, I can tell you that, as we like to put it: 'life is good'. I'm pretty much the same guy I was prior to my AN diagnosis/surgery/radiation almost 5 years ago. At the time of my diagnosis, I was SSD (the price of procrastination
). The surgery and later radiation didn't change that, nor did I expect it too. I cope fairly well with it but, admittedly, it is an impediment. However, the BAHA remains a viable alternative if and when I chose to avail myself of the technology. So far, I'm good. I had mild tinnitus prior to the surgery and that didn't change one iota, for better or worse. I did not experience any facial paralysis post-op so that was not an issue for me. No post-op nausea, either. I do experience a slight 'dry eye' (on the 'AN side' - my left
) once in awhile but don't require eye drops. Blinking rapidly usually quells it. I have a tiny 'numb' spot on the left side of my tongue but it doesn't affrect my sense of taste and so, I can ignore it. My balance is quite serviceable....unless I stumble (very rare
). Then, I find that keeping my balance (once lost
) without holding onto something is very difficult. This almost never happens so it's hardly a problem. I can climb stairs without using or needing a handrail and even escalators are not a challenge, although they were for a few months following my surgery. I was driving within 2 weeks of my AN surgery and never found it to be a problem. Turning my head to change lanes on the highway was initially a bit difficult but practice resolved it within days. I will admit that my overall stamina is less than it once was but I'm in my late 60's and I assume this is a a factor. Overall, I'm doing well. Although retired, I'm far from sedentary, have obligations (church deacon, among others) and consider myself 'active'. Like Jan and others, I enjoyed a complication-free surgery and radiation (FSR). I know that I'm blessed but I'm not some 'special case'. Others have had a similar experience or had some post-op issues that resolved in a reasonable amount of time and are doing fine, now. Folks like me remain active on the ANA website forums partly as a resource for newly diagnosed and stressed AN patients like you, Autumn. We want to help you by serving as examples of the possibility of good outcomes from AN surgery (and/or radiation) and answer questions about our AN experience that may give you more optimism about your situation. AN surgery is serious and does pose some risks but it isn't a dead end or all gloom-and-doom. We often write of 'life after an acoustic neuroma'. Some of our members are extremely physically active with marathons and such. I'm not that ambitious (or that young
) but they are also examples of how AN patients can get through the experience and thrive, as I'm hopeful you will.Jim