ANA meeting

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!



8 thoughts on “ANA meeting

  1. What an inspiring story! It sounds like a really supportive group, and I’m glad that it is lead by a doctor who seems medically knowledgeable AND has personal experience as a patient.

  2. I cannot express how proud we are of Kelly! She continues to fight each and every obstacle with fierce determination to get better and is extremely thankful for all the support she has received over the past few months.

    Kelly is already well known for her quirky sense of humor, and she used this during the demonstrations at the meeting, which I felt put others at ease and also why she became Jeff’s “favorite person.” It was really amazing to see how open this small, diverse group of people were with each other. They seemed like old friends.

    So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your thoughts and prayers during her recovery. Also, if you are so inclined, please help us pray for Greg whose surgery is tomorrow at Loyola.

  3. It’s truly a very small world – I am Gregg’s wife! I found your blog through my co-worker whose wife is friends with your sister. (I know Gregg texted me about a blog during the meeting, but I wrangling our toddler at the park and didn’t put 2 and 2 together until now). I know Gregg really appreciated hearing about your experience at the ANA meeting and it’s helped him mentally prepare for the challenges in the weeks ahead.

    We’re feeling nervous about tomorrow and the next few months, but feel confident in the team at Loyola – especially seeing how fantastic you look and seeing how well your recovery has gone. We appreciate your good thoughts for tomorrow!

    1. Alexis, that is such a small world! With the help of my sister, we’ve figured out the connection. I’m so glad Gregg has chosen the same doctors as me. He is truly in the best hands!! I’ve been thinking about him all day. I hope everything is going well. Please let me know if I can help in any possible way. Sending lots if positive thoughts your way! 🙂

      1. Hi Kelly

        Well, the procedure was last Tuesday. Doing very well I think. Walking about 6 blocks a day with my mom. Have so many questions for you I do not know where to start.

  4. Gems, you rock! I don’t know what else to say aside from that!!

    I’m so glad you found comfort and support by going to this meeting. I’m sure everyone in the group is happy to have you, too! Keep on keepin’ on, my friend!

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