Over the course of the next four years I started experiencing many different symptoms. My hearing continued to get worse, to the point where I had lost about 90% of my hearing in my right ear. I noticed that my balance had also gotten pretty awful, at times I would stumble or even fall. I really didn’t have a way of rationalizing the loss of my balance like I did with my other symptoms. I can only conclude that by the time it had gotten really bad I was so far gone mentally that I just accepted it and did my best to adapt to it. More on my mental state during this time in a minute. Later on I began to lose the fine motor skills in my right hand. I could no longer write clearly, type efficiently or use my right hand for many various skills. I rationalized this by assuming that I had hurt my hand while training in martial arts. I had done bare knuckle boxing for some years. My reaction to this? I began using my left hand more and more. When I typed. When I ate and drank. I was hitting harder and more accurately with my left as well. It really was weird after using my right hand for so much my entire life. One good thing that has come of all this is that now I can honestly say I am truly ambidextrous.
Back to my mental state. Well let’s just say it was bad. I didn’t know how bad until after I had had surgery. I’ll touch on that in another post. Let’s just say there was a lot of cognitive regression. I had trouble problem solving, thinking clearly, and memory loss as well. I began having night terrors and would sometimes lash out in my sleep. At times I would get headaches as well. All-in-all I was pretty sick. But again, I think because of my mental state I was just not thinking clearly and could not see what everyone around me saw. Or maybe I was just scared to admit that I needed help…Did I mention that I had slurred speech as well? Can you imagine seeing someone stumbling around, has slurred speech and is acting kind of “off”? That was me. Many people thought I was drunk all the time. I would later learn that this was all caused by the tumor being so big that it was affecting cranial nerves 7-12, as well as cutting off my 4th ventricle and pushing my brain stem over by 7mm!!!! It’s no wonder I was in such bad shape. I was lucky to be alive.
When I did finally see a Dr., I didn’t do so for myself actually. My younger sister Lauren texted me one day and wanted to have lunch. So we met up a little later that day at a local sandwich shop. I remember it being a beautiful day in June, summer was in full swing, so we decided to eat outside. She mentioned that she was worried about me, that I seemed to be having trouble hearing, with my balance, with my speech. I had been keeping things to myself for so long that, I just couldn’t keep it in anymore. So I took a deep breath and laid it all out for her. She listened as I went on and on about all of the problems I had been experiencing. I began to cry as I told her that I felt like I was losing control of my mind and body. She reached out and gently squeezed my hand. She said, “Jarrod, what you are experiencing is not normal. You need to see a Dr. as soon as possible. I want you to go home after we are done and make an appointment.” I said “Ok, I will”. I mentioned to her that I was only having trouble hearing in my right ear (she happened to be sitting on my left side), and that if she were sitting on my right side this conversation would be going very differently. She cracked a smile. Till this day I still credit her with saving my life, for if it weren’t for her intervention I may have waited until it was too late. The date was June 29, 2012.