Yesterday I attended my first ANA meeting, and it was awesome! Everyone was so outgoing, encouraging, and knowledgeable. Upon entering, we received numerous packets of information about facial nerve damage, hearing loss, methods for improving balance, and other issues that acoustic neuroma patients deal with post-surgery. I can’t wait to read up on all of this and learn even more.
A small group of us, some joined by family (I had my mom attend with me), gathered at the Evanston Library to hear a speaker discuss issues with posture, balance, and movement following acoustic neuroma surgery. Our speaker was Dr. Jeff Getzell, who is a behavioral optometrist and had surgery for an acoustic neuroma in the past. Jeff was very informative about what he does and provided strategies we can use to help with our balance and posture.
He had us do multiple hands-on activities as well. One activity involved three people who tried walking with their eyes closed. First they walked with their glasses on and then they walked with their glasses off. When they had their glasses off, they took wider strides and had less tension in their bodies. This showed us that glasses give us sight, but not vision. He stated that most people believe vision and sight to be the same thing, when vision really affects how we think, speak, listen, and move.
Yours truly was quite the volunteer for many of the exercises (at first by choice, then I was simply asked to do them). By the end of his speech, Jeff was referring to me as “his favorite person,” and told me I did a great job. I’ll take the compliment! 😉
After our speaker, our group was able to ask questions and converse with one another. This was my favorite part—meeting everyone and hearing their stories! Out of the 12 people at the meeting, 9 people were acoustic neuroma patients in various stages of treatment. Everyone had a different story to share. One man, Gregg, is having surgery on Tuesday. Who are his doctors? Well, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Leonetti of course! He was obviously nervous, and I reassured him that he is in THE BEST hands!
Another young woman had her surgery about a year ago. She told me she had pretty severe facial paralysis post-surgery but is now almost fully recovered from that. After stating that Trudy was almost 5 cm, how I had a shunt implanted before surgery, and that my surgery lasted over 14 hours, one man came up and hugged me! He said his experience was so similar to mine and that we should swap stories because of it. The only difference? His surgery was in 1986! I feel very fortunate that medicine has advanced so far since then, that I had a fantastic team of surgeons and other healthcare professionals taking care of me, and that my recovery has gone fairly smoothly.
All in all, it was a great day! It was so wonderful to meet others who know what it is like to go through an acoustic neuroma surgery and discuss issues and strategies with them. I am already looking forward to our next meeting! We all decided a quiet place is best since all of us only have 1 ear that works- haha!