Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Every Day

I stopped in the acoustic neuroma patient forum the other day and was catching up on old friends, saying hi to some newly diagnosed people, when I read a post that kind of got me to thinking. The post was from a guy I respect very much who had a massive tumor removed a few years before I entered the brain tumor scene. He is always able to articulate so well what sorts of things "newbies" could expect, and always does it in a way that isn't frightening. Well, okay, I know that there really isn't anything about a brain tumor that ISN'T frightening - but you know what I mean!

The comment he made was "It is not something you 'get through', recover and move on as if it never happened. Even with the best outcomes, as I experienced, a few 'reminders' are still part of my life." It got me to thinking...

Most of us in this little club have moderate to total hearing loss on the tumor side. Not something other people can see, but something we all have to make accommodations for every single day. In my case, I get up in the morning and snap a little metal box onto a metal rod that is implanted in my skull. Great to be me.

The unlucky few who have permanent nerve damage may start their day, as I do, with a blob of lubricating gel in the eye to keep it from drying out. And, those are the same people who have a blast of panic when they realize that they've left the house without eye drops/gel.

Mind you, I am not complaining. There are SO many people dealing with much worse things every day. But, I do sometimes long for my "old" life, the one that didn't involve bionic ears or eye gel. Just sayin'...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's All a Matter of Balance...

I remember before I had surgery, the surgeon told me that I would be likely to experience "disequalibrium"... And, I thought to myself, "disequal-WHAT?" Basically that is just a fancy way to say "sorry, kid, your balance is going to suck."

Most of the time, I actually do quite well. I've adapted to having only 50% of a normal person's ability to balance. For example, I don't try to walk around in the yard in the dark, I always use the railing when I'm on stairs, and I have night lights strung out all over the house. Works pretty well. I know that when I am tired, I have to be more careful, and that when there is a lot of sensory input happening, my balance will get much worse. So, where am I going with this?

This past weekend, the hubs and I went to the Bronx Zoo. We both needed a diversion and it was kind of like a mini-vacation. Now, if you've never been there, it is a huge place with lots of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Well, we got out little map and headed out on our grand adventure. One of the first things on our map was an exhibit called "Madagascar" - whoa, cool! In we went.

Now, let me set the stage. The floor was made out of some sort of rubberized material which gave it a slightly squishy consistency. It was dark (simulating night time, I guess). It was REALLY crowded. And, it was REALLY noisy. You with me so far? Uneven surface, dark, and mega-sensory input. All of a sudden, my world felt like an amusement park ride. I grabbed Willie's arm in a death grip, while trying to dig my fingernails into the fake rock wall on my other side. I experienced a fear-induced blast of adrenalin, and a strong desire to claw my way to safety. Happily, we made it out upright and intact. Well, other than the hubs' dislocated shoulder from where I tried to wrench his arm out of its socket.

I am happy to report that the rest of our day was spent upright and oriented - and did not include anymore dark exhibits. Sorry, no bat house. And, no Mouse House, either. Nope. Strictly large mammals for me. Large outdoor mammals.