Traci's story: Taking it one day at a time.

Traci's story: Taking it one day at a time.

About three years ago, I noticed that the hearing in my right ear was fading. I saw my family doctor who diagnosed me with inner ear fluid. "It will disappear on its own" he said. 

After surgery on my shoulder in August 2015, I became aware that I was off balance and had a ringing in my ear that meant I couldn't hear from that side. Attributing this to pain medication and inner ear fluid, I thought nothing more about it until January 2016 when vertigo set in. It happened when I turned over to my right side, while I did certain poses in hot yoga, and in bed at night. It gradually became more frequent in summer 2016, especially during workouts at the gym. By chance, I mentioned the vertigo and diagnosis to an occupational therapist I had for the shoulder injury. She strongly recommended I discuss it with a physiotherapist. She was concerned it was BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) from my accident that caused the shoulder injury. She also sent a letter to my doctor for a specialist to see me. 
 
In February 2017, I saw a neurotologist, a term I was unfamiliar with. I had hearing and balance tests done. My balance was poor and hearing was just as bad. "Let's do an MRI to rule anything out" he said. He assured me it wasn't a cancerous tumour and not to worry. "It’s likely just nerve damage and BPPV". I was able to get in for the MRI early and saw the specialist a week later. "Wow, how about that!" he exclaimed. He shared with me that I had a non-malignant acoustic neuroma. I was told that these are quite rare, as about 1 in 100,000 people receive this diagnosis. It was small and intracanalicular, and the specialist assured me not to worry. To date, my symptoms are tinnitus, hearing loss, unsteady on my feet, occasional vertigo and dizziness. I now wear a CROS hearing aid system to enable better hearing in my right ear.
 
At this stage of my journey, I am unsure what to expect next as I'm on "wait and watch", which means fairly regular MRIs to check growth. Although I'm unsure of the future, I have found great support from my family, friends and co-workers. My mother has been my steady rock and has attended all appointments with me, listens when things get tough and offers reassurance; my son, Tyler, whose love, kindness and compassion is beyond his twenty years; and my partner, Darren, who comforts me and reminds me of my inner strength, determination and sense of humour to keep on going. 
 
I have found much support from the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. From the moment I stepped through the doors of their office, and at the Brain Tumour Walk, I have been offered kindness and strong support, whether in the way of offering resources, listening as I shared my situation, and even hugs that have made me feel validated and accepted.
 
At this point, I am unsure what the future has for me and unsure what treatment will be best for me, but I'm well aware of how loved and supported I am by so many. For this I am grateful, and am able to live a fulfilled and content life. As I say, "I'm taking it one day at a time."
 
Thank you Traci for coming into our office that day and now for sharing your story with us. You are not alone on the brain tumour journey and we are grateful that you are letting others know that too.

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