Annie Nelson - Annies Story "In One Breath"

"On July 25, 2010 I was admitted into the hospital. It was after a day spent in the Emergency Room trying to stop an awful headache and vomiting. After an entire day of medications and doctor’s trying to help they ordered a CT scan. The comment was you are not making any sense you should have relief by now, let’s do a CT scan, we are not planning on finding anything but we want to be sure not to miss anything. Well, about 10 minutes after I returned to my ER room the doctor ran into the room looking pale and shocked stating in one breath, oh my goodness we have found a huge mass in your head, you are on your way to ICU and we have ordered a MRI."  


I’m not sure how most patients have found their tumors but that was the abrupt way mine was found. I had no idea what acoustic naroma was, had never heard the term before and due to the very large size of mine I was startled to say the least. Once I had a chance to exhale (be it about one night) I knew I wanted a second opinion and that is how I found Dr. Steven Gianotta and USC University Hospital. I had heard from other doctors whom I trust “he is the best” I knew I needed to go meet him and show him my golf ball size tumor!


After one meeting I knew he was the man and I was in great hands. We set the date, then I prepared to grasp what I was about to endure. On 8/11/2010 after 9.5 hours of surgery I was back in the ICU at USC University hospital and the tumor was gone. So was the hearing in my right ear but that was a small price to pay to be alive. See my tumor was so large I could have lost a lot more than the hearing in one ear. When I woke up I had major facial paralyzation, yes that was scary, but I am here 7 weeks post op and it is almost back to normal. I do have some issues with my right eye and I do not have any taste buds but those too will recover in time. Two of the hardest things for me to accept are 1) getting used to being deaf on the right side and the amount of weight gained from the strong steroids I was on for the swelling of the brain. The deaf in one side is a new lifestyle I adjust to daily and as for the weight and the steroids, I have been off of those for 4 weeks and the inches are starting to drop off but this too will take some time and effort to get back to me!


Recovery for me, well, physical therapy is the key! Learning balance and all after losing the hearing in my right ear has been work. At first I was extremely dizzy and nauseous. Be sure you find a good physical therapy facility. I am with Pro Sport of Newport Beach, CA. ( They are the physical therapy home of the NHL Anaheim Ducks. I am so fortunate to have a team of people who not only work with me on my balance but work on my overall strength, stamina, flexibility and well being. Making sure you find a place you trust, who challenge you and who know and understand what going through head surgery is all about is a must! I have found that you also need the support of family and friends. You can’t stay alone or drive for 4 to 6

weeks so be sure your support team is in place. This is not an extremely painful surgery to recover from but it truly helps having the right mental approach, commitment to yourself, commitment to your healing and most of all finding a team of professionals to take you through the journey!”