It’s been a year since I started my blog! I’ve learned to celebrate the small victories and appreciate everything in life. I always try to look at all situations in a positive light. As some may know, I wrote about the time I had brain surgery back in 2016 and I’m here to share more about the experience. I am an acoustic neuroma survivor!!!! If you don’t know what acoustic neuroma is, let me give you the details.
Acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma, is a noncancerous and usually slow-growing tumor that develops on the main (vestibular) nerve leading from your inner ear to your brain. Branches of this nerve directly influence your balance and hearing, and pressure from an acoustic neuroma can cause hearing loss, ringing in your ear and unsteadiness. Treatments for acoustic neuroma include regular monitoring, radiation and surgical removal. Common signs and symptoms of acoustic neuroma include:
- Hearing loss
- Ringing (tinnitus) in the affected ear
- Unsteadiness, loss of balance
- Dizziness (vertigo)
- Facial numbness and very rarely
- Weakness or loss of muscle movement
I only had one of the symptoms before surgery, headaches. This was a challenging time in my life and made me look at things very differently. Once I learned that I had this rare tumor and the only option was to proceed with brain surgery, I didn’t realize my life would totally change afterwards. I was under the impression that I would recover within 6 weeks. Oh, how I thought WRONG but I still believe God knows best. Had I known what I would endure, I probably would have prolonged the surgery which could have cost me traumatizing damage or even my life!
Let’s talk about the issues I had to face after surgery:
- Lost an entire week of memory post-op
- Learned to rebalance so I could walk without the entire world spinning
- Learned to swallow properly (the doctor had me on food thickener)
- Wore a patch over my eye to focus correctly (and had to wait patiently until my double vision went away)
- Suffered loss of hearing and facial paralysis on left side
Once I was able to comprehend the reality of the challenges ahead, I thought my world had crashed. I was devastated and nervous I would never be normal again. Boy, I had my work cut out for me to become the normal RAYAN again! After a week in the hospital, it was time for me to start physical therapy. This terrified me because I didn’t know what to expect.
I will never forget day two of my physical therapy; I totally shut down and would not finish my sessions. The nurses just let me have my moment and the next day was so much better. I needed the time to gather myself from this horrifying experience and come to terms with the challenges I was facing. This was the start of my “NEW NORMAL LIFE.”On the third day, my entire mindset changed. My goal was to complete all my sessions to the nurses’ satisfaction so I could get home to my own bed. I had to perform walking, speech, and mind challenging exercises. I was determined to overcome my issues and get back on the road to normal.
After a few weeks of therapy, I was ready to go home. The work didn’t stop there! I had to attend outpatient physical therapy until my nurses felt I was ready to receive my completion certificate.
Needless to say, I mastered my sessions within a month. The nurses told me I was doing great at everything and there was nothing left to do but let the rest heal with time. I felt so accomplished and was ready to continue my somewhat normal life. After two and a half months post-operation, I returned to CrossFit class. This was so exciting and important to me. The night before, I laid out my workout clothes and never looked back!
CrossFit helped me so much with my stability. It was so challenging to get back to myself but the small victories were rewarding! It’s been five years since my surgery, and I am still conquering my new norm. With God, we will not fail! I am a living witness.
Ray Marks #putyourmarksonfitness 〽️✨