Meagan's Story: Helping others in a new way
When you receive a call and hear the words “the doctor wants to see you ASAP” – you know that can’t be good.
“So on your MRI they did find a mass – a little bigger than a golf ball and we are referring you to a really great team”. What do you mean mass? Like a tumour? But how can this be? I already have so much on my plate why do you need to throw this my way? I just had a major car crash, was that not enough already?
What I have is called a vestibular schwannoma
or an acoustic neuroma (AN). Two names, one tumour. This tumour arises from the 8th cranial nerve which controls hearing and balance. The fact that I have this explains two things for me: why I lost my hearing, and why I’ve been clumsy for the past couple of years. These tumours are non-malignant (one bonus) and they grow slowly. Therefore, it was quite unexpected when it was discovered that my AN was in the large category. Usually they don’t grow this large until middle age, but not always. I’ve been told that these tumours are quite rare and although they grow slow, they have the ability to impede other cranial nerves such as the facial and swallowing nerve. I was also told that these tumours don’t become dangerous until they start compressing on areas of the brainstem. Not only was I told that I have a large tumour, but that mine is pushing my brainstem quite significantly and that my only option for treatment is surgery.
But what’s even worse? There is only one set of doctors that do this surgery in the entire province. Therefore, after finding out I have this brain tumour, I am told that I have to wait a (long and painful) 6 weeks before seeing one of the specialists, and another 2 for the neurosurgeon. I can tell you, there is nothing worse than being told you have a brain tumour then you have to wait to talk to the person who is going to fix it. During this time I literally thought I was going insane. The anxiety that I felt was causing physical manifestations and I can tell you that a single day did not go by without an outburst of tears. I am a happy-go-lucky person, but one person can really only handle so much. I am so insanely grateful that I have a strong support system. Had I not, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. Right now, is a waiting game again. By the phone, everyday, to get the surgery date. I really hope it is soon. The best Christmas gift I could get would be to get this lump of coal out of my head. However, I do have good days. And recently, a lot more good days than bad. This is how I know that I will overcome this. This is how I know that my “new normal” won’t be so bad. One day at a time, and counting everything I am grateful for along the way.
As I sit here and search behind the meaning of this devastation – I am learning a lot. I am learning that no is the only option to a lot of things right now. I am learning that it is okay to ask for help and accept it without offering something in return. When you’re a nurse in the NICU, failing to ask for help is actually considered a safety risk. Why should it be any different now?
As I navigate (very wobbly I might add) through life’s challenges, I have realized that I am not alone.
While the journey is nowhere near over, I am finally paying attention to the little things. To say that I have found solace in writing (read more from Meagan's blog
) would be an understatement. I can now say that I have found my independence, I have found my voice, I have found my strength and I am helping others in a new way. Perhaps this is what this journey is all about. Learning things about yourself that you didn’t know existed. Perhaps there is a time to hold on and a time to be held. And right now, I am learning to do both in a new way.
Thank you Meagan for sharing your story and reminding us all that it is okay to ask for help!