Monthly Archives: January 2014

6 months!

Today marks exactly 6 months since I went under the knife.  To be honest, it seems much longer than that because I have accomplished SO MUCH since then and feel 99.9% healed.

Back in August, when I had my one-month follow up with Dr. Leonetti, he told me it takes 5 days for a scar to heal but 6 months for a wound.  I can say that the humungous incision on the side of my head is TOTALLY healed and my Skrillex haircut is growing in nicely.  I can scrub my hair clean, sleep on that side, scratch my growing buzz cut, etc.

2014-01-23 19.53.27

I am also almost working full-time.  Since October 1, I’ve been working at the real estate office in Palatine.  I started out slowly, working 2 days a week for a few hours, and am now up to 4-5 full days!  One of my goals was to build up my stamina, and I think I’ve achieved that!

As far as subbing/teaching goes, I don’t think I’m able to do that any time soon in a full-time capacity.  Teaching is unlike any other job.  It’s hard to understand how demanding teaching elementary-aged kids is unless you’ve actually experienced it.  The half day of subbing second graders was exhausting, so I’ll be slowly easing my way back into that.

Lastly, I feel like I can live day-to-day 100% independently, and I definitely have my social life back.  Loud bars and restaurants are still tricky with hearing, but I am adapting.  I don’t know if that will ever get “easy.”  I’m willing to deal with not hearing people; sometimes it’s a blessing 😉

In other news, Dr. Anderson’s physician assistant Anna called me today wondering if a 27-year- old patient of theirs could call and talk to me.  She was diagnosed with bilateral acoustic neuromas (meaning two, one on each side) and has been putting off her surgery for a while.  I told Anna, no question—of course she can call me!!  I am hoping to hear from this fellow 27-year-old regarding her apprehension and fears of surgery and answer any questions/concerns she may have.  (As you all know, I had a pretty positive experience with this whole thing).

Aside from updating family and friends on my progress, the whole point of this blog was to help people, and I’m hoping I can start out 2014 making a difference.  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

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Proud.

That’s how I’m feeling right about now.  I finally made my return to teaching (on a very, very, very part-time basis).  This afternoon, I returned as a substitute teacher to a group of noisy and energetic second-grade students.  Check that one off the list!

I gotta say, that was exhausting.  I only subbed a half day, I’m pooped, and my head is pretty much pounding.  Second grade is much different than fourth grade (which is what I student taught), that’s for sure!  The noise level for me today was extremely overwhelming.  I had a hard time hearing students and found myself getting easily frustrated.  I’m not sure if it was because of the chatty children, being rusty and “outta the teaching game” for so long, just my one-eared hearing, or a mix.  I guess that’s TBD.

Either way, I’m very proud of myself for doing it!  My goal was to begin subbing again after the New Year, and I followed through with that.  I think at this point, I’ll try subbing once a week for a while until I feel more comfortable.

The best part about today?  I felt at ease teaching at a school I was used to, which was where I did my student teaching last year!  It was beyond wonderful seeing teachers and my old students!  Everyone was so warm and welcoming, stated how great I looked, and how happy they were to see me back.  Several teachers stopped in to give me a “welcome back” hug.  Many of my former students also heard Miss Nugent was in the building, and came by to say hello after school, too!  I think that the kindness and caring from peers and students was somewhat emotionally overwhelming, but in a good way.  I imagine the more I teach, the more things will settle down into a normal setting. 

All in all it was a crazy-good day.  As my friend Janet says, it’s all about the small victories.  Today was definitely another milestone for me, and for that reason, I’m proud.

Out with the old, in with the new!

Yesterday was a very successful day!  In the afternoon, Wom and I made the frigid trek down to Loyola for my 5-6ish month follow-up appointment with Dr. Anderson (my neurosurgeon) and to go over my MRI that I recently had performed.  It was my first time driving on a highway since surgery (probably not the best of days to practice highway driving considering the roads were icy and frozen, but hey, we made it).  That was an achievement in itself!

After having Dr. Anderson’s Doogie Howser perform his usual neurological exam, he sat down with my mom and me and asked how I was feeling.  My answer?  “Great—like 100%!”  The entire time he was talking, he had this smirk on his face, so I felt almost certain he had good news.  And boy did he!  He informed us that after looking at my most recent scan, he and Dr. Anderson believe Trudy has shrunk!  It’s not much, probably about a millimeter, but it’s somethin’!

Dr. Anderson came in after to go over the actual scan with us and measured it on the screen.  There in front of me was proof that in only a few months, Trudy has begun to shrivel up.  I am SO HAPPY!

Dr. Anderson even admitted that my surgery was probably one of the “best ones he’s done in a long time.”  Ain’t that the truth!  He also reiterated that I am doing amazingly considering how big Trudy was (and then he pulled up the original MRI- eek!)  She was one big ole rude tumor!

You’ll notice in the scans how much my brainstem has straightened out.  I can definitely tell too!  My dizziness and balance have greatly improved since my surgery in July.

trudy mri split of 3

At this point, Dr. Anderson feels confident he cut off the blood supply to Trudy, so she should continue to shrivel up.  I do not need radiation (hallelujah!) and I am on a “watch and wait” basis.  My next MRI and follow-up appointment will be in May where I hope to see more great results!  I’d say 2014 is off to a great start!