Anyway, since the beginning of the year I've had some bothersome health news. Last year I started experiencing some numbness and other odd symptoms in and around my mouth--I couldn't seem to taste things properly on the right side of my tongue, my chin and lower lip and cheek were numb--on the right side of my face.
I saw my dentist for my regular checkup in December and he suggested I see a neurologist because he felt I might have a small tumor on the mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve. So I saw my primary care doc in January and he referred me to a neurologist. By the time I saw my pcp, the numbness had spread to the roof of my mouth and my gums, then up the right side of my face to my cheekbone.
By the time I saw the neurologist at the end of March, it had spread to my eyelid (and the surface of my eye) and my forehead and scalp. The neurologist asked if I had any hearing loss. I said that I did, but I had always attributed that to 40 years of playing the bassoon in the orchestra (starting when I was in middle school) and having all manner of brass players blasting at the back of my head. Anyway, the neurologist suspected an acoustic neuroma and sent me for an MRI.
The MRI confirmed that I have a smallish acoustic neuroma--a benign tumor growing on my auditory nerve and pressing on the trigeminal nerve, which has been causing the numbness. I then went on to see an ENT doc.
I had my hearing tested and I actually have "excellent" hearing. My right ear has only a very minor loss of high frequencies and not the dramatic hearing loss typical of ANs.
But I do have to do something about this Stoopy Tumor, as I have dubbed it. The ENT suggested radiation treatment in order to try to preserve my hearing, which, of course, I need in order to continue being an orchestral musician. I also need to preserve the motor functions of my trigeminal and facial nerves in order to be able to continue playing.
I meet with a neurosurgeon tomorrow, but mostly to discuss the process (since a neurosurgeon is typically also involved even if you're having radiation treatment. However, I am looking into seeing if I can have my procedure done at a facility in Phoenix that has a lot of experience with ANs. I want to go somewhere where they have a lot of expertise and a good reputation working specifically with ANs. The docs here are experienced and there is a radiation treatment facility here, but I feel that the place in PHX is a little more honed in on ANs. And since my sisters live in PHX, I can stay with my younger sister while I'm being treated (it would take about a week) and it would be easier for my parents to get down there than for them to come all the way out here to be with me.
So, that's where I am these days. It's funny because it's not as if I'm sick, in the conventional sense--I don't have a fever or a broken limb or even fatigue or anything like that, but it's not as if having a tumor the size of a small grape is nothing. Right now I'm a little concerned about my eye--I need to make sure it doesn't get dried out or irritated since there's not a normal level of sensation there. I have drops and some gel to use as needed.
Anyway, so that's what's going on with me. I'm anticipating spending my summer vacation getting my head irradiated...
ETA: I ended up having my radiation treatments here in LR because of the limitations of my crappy insurance, but the facility where I had it done works with charity patients and was willing to work with me. They were very nice and the treatments went well.