Monday, 27 June 2016

On having a brain tumour.....

I'm going to tell you about it; to raise awareness for what is a relatively rare occurrence, and also to explain why it may be many months before I close the book on this.

I had a brain tumour called an Acoustic Neuroma. In the best tradition of medical things, it is also called a Vestibular Schwannoma. 
In the first place, it grows out of the auditory nerve and so fills your ear tubes and makes you gradually deaf. As it grows, so it takes up any space available and often wraps around or grows onto the facial nerve. This makes everything 'novocaine' numb on one side of the face. It hurts eventually, the numbness, just because there's no relief, and it makes you chew your tongue and bite your cheek far too often! Once it's taken on the facial nerve, the only place for it to grow is in any space between the brain and the skull, so it does; and eventually, starts to exert backward pressure on the brain as it makes room for itself. It is ultimately life threatening, but benign. My symptoms progressed over the time I was on the waiting list, but I was so lucky never to experience any pain.

My face and head were numb on my right. I couldn't hear a thing (failing hearing and tingling in my gums drove me to the doctor originally). My walk and balance were awful, but I never fell over. Jan will tell you there were a few times when I would have if she hadn't, as always, been there for me! I walked Mr Dunnit into several hedges, and more than once was accused of drunkeness. Particularly as I was slurring my words like a good 'un! Sometimes, I would let it go because I understand how difficult it is not to judge. Other times, when I was feeling particularly defensive, I would put them right as calmly and clearly as I could. We called it 'dropping the tumour bomb' and only once in the last six months did it elicit an apology from the accuser. Mostly I felt awkward for embarrassing them and would leave immediately. Interesting human beans, aren't we!
a semi-decoy pic; proof that Mr Dunnit really looked after me well

Every medical professional I've met in the last eight months has been superb. They treated it at just the right level for me; urgent enough to put me on a list for surgery, take it very seriously but not scare me, monitor everything until my turn came. And when it did come, treating it as a perfectly routine operation. I should point out that surgery is not always the only treatment, but such was my case. It was a six month long list. I have to say that it's been a long wait. I was so tired by the effort of walking and talking like a drunk, trying to hear in difficult situations, feeling tired ALL of the time and just generally waiting. 

I had a scare in April when my handwriting disappeared....I couldn't write any better than a five year old and that really did distress me; I'm often complimented on my handwriting style and its a greater part of my self identity than I thought. Hubris. I had another scan and they decided that it had grown faster than average. I had just come up to the top of the waiting list, so surgery on 31 May it was.

With permission, we buzzed off to Spain for a week beforehand. It was a great idea to be elsewhere and distracted by non routine things for that last week of waiting. I did not have any pain at all in terms of air pressure and I continue to thank my lucky stars that I haven't really suffered as a result of the tumour. I joined an online support group and it quickly became obvious that I was in the minority when it came to pain and tinnitus. (BANA - British Acoustic Neuroma Association).

The operation took nearly eight hours. I have a U shaped scar, a U on its side, starting level with and behind my earlobe and going round to a finish just behind the top of my ear. I had my hair cut really short while we were in Spain and so the shaved area on my head doesn't really have the impact I think it would have had. 

In the long term, I have work to do; balance exercises. I have to train my brain to accept that it needs to work out what is level balance from one side only. Because of my earlier deafness and imbalance, I had a bit of a head start on that and moving my head wasn't too awful an experience the next day. I gather that for others, the nausea and vertigo can go on for days. Awful. For a few days I took anti-nausea pills, but not for long, the hospital want you to train your brain rather than be treated, so brain training it is! I felt really rough, as you would expect, and very sore. I came home after five days and then spent a week sleeping and hurting. After that, by degrees, things have improved and I'm doing OK. I'm still sleeping, but mostly at night and well into the morning, rather than napping constantly. My balance is good, I can shake my head without losing control of my whereabouts, so the brain is obviously and miraculously learning to adjust.

I am irrevocably deaf on the right and I have palsy on the right of my face. I can't operate my right eye lid enough to close my eye, I have drops and I swear, the purest axle grease type ointment that saves my poor eye hurting from being so dry. In the ultimate 'come hither' look, I tape my eye shut to sleep. Like a lot of things, until you can't, you don't realise how clever and necessary blinking and eye control is! I am drinking everything through a straw, my lips won't 'seal' to prevent dribbling, and actually, eating certain foods is erm, messy. I have facial physio and balance physio slated. I cannot fault my treatment, the hospital, facilities and particularly the care from the staff. 

The ENT and Brain guys say it will be 3 months before I'm post op enough to think about getting back to a routine of more than light housework and such. This is worst case, I'm already doing more than I expected to be able to - all in short bursts, but still, it's progress. 

The facial palsy people say that what I get back in the first three months will be pretty much how it will be for me. Over all, they all say to allow 18 months for the new normal to embed. It is all a challenge - who wouldn't hate this palsy, especially. But Mr Dunnit says he's staying anyway, my friends are still my friends and now I have physical evidence of illness, even strangers are being kind.  So, I'll be bringing on the new normal. First, a nap.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

WOYWW 368...Feeling humble


 *taps screen*, gawd, you could write your name in the dust. Ahem. 

I'm going to do occasional posts, you've been so kind and understanding over my absence that I figure you won't mind me easing myself back this way. I have a limited 'screen time' because one of my eyes is poorly. For now, WOYWW will stay at LLJs because I'm not sure if I'm ready for any sort of commitment!

I need to say an inadequate and humble thank you, and I can't wait any longer. You're all wonderful examples of support and friendship and I really am appreciative. At four in the morning as I struggled to sit upright so I could suck water through a bloody straw to swallow painkillers, and still spill most of the water down my front, it really was helpful to know that if we were chatting, you'd wish me well. Sometimes I tried to work out who would be awake in the deep of my night.

It was really important to me. Thank you.

So my desk this week is actually a view of the Get Well cards that have been so generous and thoughtfully given and believe me, humbly and often tearfully received. Back soon!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday 365

Today is the day after my big ol' surgery. So I'm not here! Please link via Jan as you have previously done!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

What's in your Workdesk? Wednesday 364

The link for today and for a few weeks is over at LLJ's.
Today is the SEVENTH anniversary of this WOYWW thing. I never thought it would last, well, actually, I didn't think about it at all. I most certainly didn't think it would create the community feeling that we have found, and that has been its success don't you think?
You're welcome, every week, when you can or just a few times.This is no clique, and as long as you stick to the very few rules, you will always be welcome. I've met loads of you, thanks to LLJ's super WOYWW Crops and her telling me to 'grow a pair'. Most of you have discovered that I am exactly what I say I am, no more no less than an average woman that really, really likes to talk herself up. Keep it up will you, I need it now, it's sort of become a Wednesday habit. This has turned out to be more enabling and fun than I'd have ever thought. And I'm up for more of the same!
Nikki C made these badges (well, you knew it wasn't me!), grab one for your blog if you're of a mind. Thank you to if she isn't really busy with her own life!
Go now, link up at Jan's blog and carry on!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 363

Its a week before the seventh anniversary; we will be doing the ATC thing again. If you can join in, instructions are here.
In the worst traditions of timing, I am away on holiday for this and next Wednesday, 364.  I'll join in at some stage, but until we're there, I have no idea about internet and that is key, huh! Well, that and the electricity, but I'm hoping that power at least, is a given! We've squashed in this week away because as you know by now, I'm scheduled for surgery days after we get back.  Because I need the silly WOYWW thing to continue, Jan has again stepped up and will be hosting until I recover. So the link party will be at Jan's place for now:
Lunch Lady Jan

I did get my act together and tidy up though. So the view is a bit changed and boy, do I feel better for it. It actually only took about 15 minutes to do. I've therefore nothing to offer in terms of a decent defence. Sigh. Some people just won't change! I found four pairs of scissors and I can't remember how many sheets of stamps that I thought I would use. But didn't. And now they are put away, so won't be used anytime soon!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 362

I took this picture on Tuesday afternoon.
 I was then going to tidy and put away stuff, because I think this is as bad as it has ever been, and it's driving me mad. Weird that, considering I'm the perpetrator. Anyway, suffice to say that there is no after picture. Yet. Today might be the day though - it would be nice! What you see is evidence of some hasty thank you cards, gone and not photographed, mine and LLJ's works of ATC art (cough cough) for the anniversary, scrapbooking papers that didn't make it to Crop (I've no idea why) and only the big scissors. I see from the pen/equipment holder at the far left that there are no orange handles which means that this desk is hiding 4 pairs of scissors!
Show us will you, what a proper workspace looks like, it'll be so much more inspiring than this!
Put WOYWW in your post title and link here - that way we can visit. Thank you!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 361

It's approaching quite rapidly actually; the seventh anniversary, that is. You can read how we celebrate it here. Please, still join in the desking lark, even if you don't have time or inclination to join in with the ATC swap. The link and anniversary madness will take place at LLJ's blog. This is because I am selfishly going to be away over the anniversary. My surgery is scheduled for May 31st and so we thought to steal away for some sun before they make me unwell. I shall be watching and participating, but can't guarantee internet connection, so it's best to leave it to a very reliable and trusty chum, huh. You need do nothing - I will post and blah on the day to direct you.

And my desk last evening, untouched, I promise!
I have actually washed off my glass mat and a pair of tweezers that I used to do the pasting. So there is some cleanliness, but no tidiness! I had to wash the glass because I wanted to do other things and the uneven paste was going to be in the way. You can't see them from this angle, but the ATC fronts are done and waiting for backs to be stamped. And that paper you see is going to be June's calendar. I did May (as you can tell from the mess) and realised that if I had June done in advance, it will be a good thing. It's crop this weekend which is why you see the Snapfish envelope - it's meant to remind me. As the first thing I trip over is unpacked stuff from the last crop, I'm not sure how I would forget really! I might have to excavate this desk before long...I'll report back! Now it's your turn; put a photo and brief explanation of your 'desk' on your blog. Link it here and we'll be round to visit. Please put WOYWW in your blog title, it makes it so much easier. Thank you!