Monday, October 11, 2010

What Did You Say?

I'm grieving.

I'm grieving the loss of my hearing.

Although I am remaining very positive about my present state and my future, I can't help but grieve something that I have already lost. And I can't be positive that I will regain any of my hearing.

It's a sad process. Losing your hearing.

But it's gone. There isn't much I can do about it. I think I might be able to find some comfort in getting a hearing aid after my surgery, but the sadness is still present.

I started really noticing my hearing loss at the first of the year. I would slam my phone down and cuss it out - blaming the stupid iPhone, rather than thinking it was my hearing.

In May I was out to dinner with a bunch of friends and I was so frustrated because I couldn't hear what everyone was saying, so I left the dinner and went home and cried. That's when I knew something was wrong.

I like to be the center of attention. And that isn't easy to do when I can't hear what everyone is talking about.

Saying "huh" all the time gets annoying - even to me. So, I have found that I have been saying, "What did you say?"

It has also come to my attention that I have to remind my friends and family that I can't hear from my left ear and to please speak in my right ear. It's heartbreaking, even though I never let it show.

I never thought I would have to say, "Excuse me, I can't hear you, can you please speak into my right ear." Old people have to say that ... not vibrant 38-year-olds.

But here I am bitching again, when things in my life could be much worse. I could lose my hearing in both ears. I could have been born deaf. I have a lot to be thankful for.

But I want to have a pity party right now. I am sad. I can't hear out of my left ear. I can hear noise, but I can't make out speech.

Friday night I took Harry to see his favorite band of all time, Muse! It was a great time. I found myself plugging up my right ear (my good ear) to see what I could hear from my bad ear. I could hear noise and sound, but couldn't make out what that noise and sound was exactly. It was very strange.

I'm sad, goddammit! I want to hear again. I want to talk on the phone using my left ear.

You know, my left ankle is jacked up, too. I have plates and pins and screws in it. Forever. I want to bitch about that, too. But I won't.

I am lucky. I have it good. I have the use of my limbs, my mind, my heart. I am lucky.

I've decided that I want to get a landline. I am nervous to only speak on my cell phone, as I really have a sneaking suspicion that my acoustic neuroma was caused by radiation from my cell phone.

I want this phone from ebay. Or one like it.

I like the color pink.

Thank God I still have my eyesight.

I am lucky!

Friday, October 8, 2010

How Did That Tic Tac Get There?

So far on this short journey I have discovered who loves me - I mean, those who truly love and care about me. A lot of you do. I really think I am probably one of the luckiest people alive to have so many loved ones. Thank you.

So, one of my dear loved ones, Bruce, sent me a picture text message on Monday that said: "Your neuroma is smaller than a tic tac."

Since I told Bruce about my brain tumor, he has spent countless hours researching my schwannoma. He has been so positive about everything and it has really been helpful. I've known Bruce for about a year and I've discovered that he is constantly seeking wisdom - especially about faith issues. Well, he has a lot of faith in me and my survival and he has faith that I will get through this. And for that, I am thankful. Thank you, Bruce - I appreciate your positive energy and efforts to keep me smiling.

I'm still constantly thinking about my tumor (I also refer to it as CiCi [short for candy corn]) and how it is affecting me. My symptoms have become more noticeable now that I know it's there. Tinnitus, dizziness, loss of hearing and headaches. I seem to be more tired than usual, but that's probably stress.

But what keeps me up the majority of nights is the simple question of why me? Why did I get a brain tumor? What do I have in common with one in 100,000 other people who have Acoustic Neuromas?

First let me say that I consider myself lucky. Lucky that I have a 99.9% benign brain tumor. Lucky that my tumor is the size of a tic tac and not the size of a plum. Lucky that my tumor isn't already causing daffiness and facial paralysis. I'm lucky.

But really, why me.

I've thought about it and here is what I have come up with ... did one of the following cause my tumor?

1. Radiation: Though it hasn't been scientifically proven, it is said that radiation from cell phones might be linked to acoustic neuromas. But MILLIONS and BILLIONS and TRILLIONS of people use cell phones everyday, yet still only 1 in 100,000 people have acoustic neuromas. My friend Emily sent me links to a few articles regarding cell phones being linked to high radiation levels. (Be sure to click on both links if you are interested, as they are different.)

Reading one woman's account of her brain tumor surgery she mentioned waking up and immediately requesting her cell phone. That would be indicative of a cell phone addiction problem, which I definitely have. So, really, could I have this thing on my 8th cranial nerve because I talk on my cell phone too much? I mean, I have spent five years with long distance boyfriends - why don't they have acoustic neuromas? Not that I would wish that on anyone.

When I was a little girl I used to microwave dinners for my brother and myself every night. I would stand by the microwave door waiting for the timer to ding. Did my hunger and impatience give me this damn tumor?

2. Drugs: I was a bad teenager. I'm not proud of it. I liked to experiment with drugs. Not just the typical marijuana, but the bad stuff. I mean, I didn't shoot up, but I did like poppers and huffing stuff and other stuff. It was fun and funny. And hallucinations were fun to me. I blame Timothy Leary and Tom Wolfe and rock and roll. Which brings me to ...

3. Loud Music: I've been to a lot of loud shows in my 38 years. A lot. From the time I was a little girl I have loved music. I have stood next to loud, thumping speakers at least 200 hundred times. But so have billions of other people.

4. Mercury: No, not the planet, but the element. One of my stepfathers had a little vial of it when I was a little girl. I would always sneak it out of his sock drawer and pour it into my hand or on a table and break it up. It was fascinating to me. I seriously played with it a lot. It probably wasn't good for me and may very well have given me a tumor.

I mean, what little kid wouldn't want to play with this?

5. Lead Paint: I once had a little armoire when I was a baby. I remember it. It was right next to my bed. It was painted pink. I had a horrible early childhood and this is one of the only things I remember. I was VERY young and as a way of coping with the stress of being in an abusive household (this was obviously before I lived with my dear Nana), I would lay in bed and pick off the paint. It peeled off quite easily and it would relax me - even as a toddler. I would peel of the paint and eat it. I don't know why I would eat it, but I would. Gross, I know. It had to have had lead in it. Is that what made me get a tumor?

6. Pregnancy: Last year my friend Lisa died. After her second child was born she was diagnosed with AML (leukemia) and she died within a year - before her baby's first birthday. The doctors said that it was always there, that she was born with it. But they also told her that it was her pregnancy that made it flare up. I am sure the doctor didn't use the phrase "flare up." But it was because her body changed during pregnancy. My doctor said that my tumor has been around for about five years. My son is five years old. I am sure it's just a coincidence.

7. Mark: I blame Mark for everything now days. We broke up five years ago. It's his fault. I should stick to that. Anytime I am around Mark this is what happens ...

I'm kidding. I don't blame Mark for anything. But it would be easy to blame him for a lot. In the past month I have often thought, why on earth isn't he the one with the tumor. He deserves it more than me. But that is malicious. He doesn't deserve this. No one does.

8. Diet Coke (and other processed bullshit): I have had lots of diet coke in my day. It's not good for you. When I was pregnant my doctor told me to drink full sugar pop if I was going to drink it at all. Artificial sweeteners just aren't good. It does horrible things to rats. What about all the MSG and shit I put into my body on a daily basis. My fat ass is proof that I have obviously exceeded moderation. So, should I blame processed food or artificial sweetener? It'd be easy to.

9. Men: I know you can't catch brain tumors, but if you could, I would have definitely caught it from a few of the men I have dated in the past. I mean, there was that catholic loser who thought he could "save me," or the jerky doctor who punched me in the face and what about the race car driver guy with one leg? I swear, I am not making this shit up. Which brings me to ...

10. Karma: So, yeah, the race car driver with one leg was a really nice guy. I broke up with him because he had one leg. I couldn't handle it. That's shitty. Is this tumor karma's way of biting me in the ass so to speak? Probably. Do I deserve it? Maybe. But really I am a very nice, thoughtful girl, typically. I don't deserve this at all. But who does?

Last week my housekeeper (Jonna - she is amazing and you should use her. Plug for Jonna! Holler!) told me that people like me get tumors. At first I was like, gee thanks! But then she went on to say that it's because I am strong and can handle it better than most people. And that she thinks that I am capable of being positive and fighting and getting through it with flying colors. I think it was a compliment. I think she thinks the same thing Bruce does - that I am strong, powerful, thoughtful, capable and ready to kick this tumor's ass. They are right. I am ready. Scared shitless, but ready nonetheless.

Thanks for sticking with me.