Robert here, posting from Spokane, WA. Figured I should introduce myself since I've been lurking on the board for the past few days, since seeing the results of my MRI and being told I have an AN. Here's the background:
1cm AN (located on the balance nerve, according to my doctor)
began noticing some hearing loss a couple months ago (tested down about 30dB on audiometry), having some tinnitus issues
diagnosed last Wednesday after spending six weeks being told it was probably a sodium issue in my middle ear
now the fun part:
I'm 42, and have had good health over the years, for the most part
I've been working as an engineer/producer in my own recording studio for the last eight years
I think the shock of the diagnosis is finally wearing off, and I am in the process of exploring my treatment options. When I left the doctor, with my 2 year old and 4 year old in tow, I told him I was leaning towards "watch and wait", as he had said that he estimated this thing has been growing in me for five years, and that I didn't need to rush into a decision.
Now as I start researching all the myriad arguments of surgery vs. GK/CK, I feel more inclined to make a decision and get going. My biggest concern is doing whatever has the best chance of preserving hearing in that ear. Of course, the prospect of losing hearing in one ear is a life altering event for anyone, but for me, it could very likely be a career ender as well. I find it ironic that a week ago, I had a major label artist in my studio, and was being complimented by his guitarist for the depth of sounds I was getting by stereo miking his amp, only to turn around and be told two days later that there's a 50/50 chance I will end up deaf in one ear. I try to tell myself that Phil Spector managed to make a decent career out of recording in mono, but it's small comfort (not that I would trade places with him now!).
So... my current line of thinking is: rather than wait six months for another MRI, realizing that while the tumor is likely growing slowly, my hearing will only continue to deteriorate in the meantime, I should look seriously at surgery (middle fossa approach?), or GK/CK. I've seen odds for hearing preservation ranging from 50% (or lower for larger tumors) up to 78% at Seattle Ear Clinic. I'm still looking for long-term preservation rates for Gamma Knife, or Cyber Knife. It seems that there is a slight chance of regaining some of what's already been lost through surgery (along with the attendant risks), whereas with radiation, things won't improve, and may continue to decline years down the road.
I already have a sincere appreciation for all the love and experience that is evident on this board, and am looking for input from those that have gone before. Okay.. enough rambling for now, time to get some sleep. Thanks so much!