I struggled for a long time on whether or not to start this blog. But since I have read other blogs on Acoustic Neuroma’s, and every experience is unique, I felt now is as good a time as any to write about everything I have gone through, and continue to go through everyday.
So here goes…I started seeing symptoms in the fall of 2008, though at the time I did not know that they were symptoms of anything, much less a brain tumor. They came on gradually, and for some reason I had a pretty reasonable explanation for each one. It all started one morning when I woke up and could immediately notice that I had lost about 50% of my hearing in my right ear. I also had a strange feeling in my ear, which I have come to learn is described as “fullness”. I wasn’t too worried at first, “maybe my ear just needs a good cleaning” I thought. I cleaned it with a q-tip, nada. I bought an ear cleaning kit from the store, but after using up the whole kit I’ll admit I was starting to worry a bit. I’ve had ear infections before when I was a kid, I knew they can cause hearing loss if not treated, but they always ached a lot and I was completely pain free. My next thought was maybe I injured something while at one of my jobs. I worked at a nightclub at the time, maybe 3 years of loud music for 30 hours a week had taken it’s toll…So I made an appointment with my personal Dr. for the next day and just went about my business.
So the next day I see my Dr., let’s call him “Dr. K”. Dr. K checks out my ears and doesn’t see anything irregular in his visual inspection. So he refers me to an Ear, Nose and Throat Dr. to get my hearing checked. Did I mention that I had an HMO plan? Anyway, the hearing results come back and it’s just like I have been telling him all along. Hearing in my left ear? Great. Hearing in my right ear? Not so good. So he concludes that I have a viral infection in my inner ear, specifically affecting the vestibulocochlear nerve. Only later did I learn that he was right about the nerve, but the diagnosis was wrong. He prescribed steroids and sent me on my merry way.
I came in for another appointment about a month later for another hearing test. Interestingly my hearing did actually improve, though not significantly. This was enough though for Dr. K to see that the steroids were working, I just needed a higher dosage. In hindsight I can see how and why the steroids helped. The nerve was inflamed, and steroids help reduce inflammation. Which in-turn improved my hearing. Dr. K upped the dosage and sent me on my way.
I came back a month later to get my hearing checked again. Something I hadn’t really thought about had happened since my last appointment though. I had a birthday, I had just turned 24 years old and it didn’t occur to me that I had “aged out” of my mom’s health insurance through her work. I was made aware of this when the Medical Assistant informed me that my insurance was no longer valid and it would cost me some large sum of money to see the Dr. Now at the time I was flat broke, I actually worked 4 jobs 7 days a week just to make ends meet. So I declined to see the Dr. that day and went on my way. I didn’t see a Dr. again for 4 years, in 2012…