My name is Kathy Atkins. My acoustic neuroma story started a year and a half ago.
I was on an airplane and put my ear buds in just to realize my left ear wasn’t hearing very well. I had never even been to an ear doctor. After a hearing test and examination it was decided to do an MRI to find out why that ear was only hearing at 66%.
My doctor referred us to the House Clinic, saying it was one of the best in the world. There, Dr. John House met with us and although the news of having an acoustic neuroma was shocking, we felt we couldn’t be at a better place. At the time the tumor was too small to justify removal and so with the guidance of Dr. House we monitored it to see if it would grow and so warrant surgery and resection. During this waiting period, Dr. House encouraged me to increase my balancing yoga practice as we could track the hearing diminishing but it’s hard to track balance.
My surgery was scheduled for June 5th. I was so ready to finally get it out. However, after reviewing my blood work, Dr. Michael Stefan (the internist who sees the majority of House tumor patients) canceled the surgery due to his concern over my lab work. I wasn’t very happy about this, but knew he was right as I was extremely anemic and needed to address that first. While waiting for my anemia to be controlled, I worried every day about how much bigger the tumor was growing. My doctors, Drs. John House, Kevin Peng and Gregory Lekovic, assured me the tumor would still be considered medium size and I had to be stronger to go through the surgery. After iron infusions and several tests to rule out other problems, my surgery was rescheduled for July 31st. Going into surgery my husband and I probably had more questions than the average person. Every question was answered in terms we could understand and no question was too bizarre to answer. Roya, the hospital’s concierge was at every appointment and available to keep my husband informed. This was a great comfort to me. Never in a million years would I have thought the results would be so positive!!! I was balancing better the day after surgery than before I went in and Dr. Lekovic was able to remove the whole tumor all in one piece and with no damage to my facial nerve. Dr. Peng did an amazing job and very little of my hair was shaved and everyone says it’s the prettiest stitch job they have ever seen! The staff at the hospital was very attentive, personable and knowledgeable. Each and every nurse at St. Vincent’s felt like they were my own private nurse. Roya, Dr. Stefan and a physician from the House Clinic were checking on me every day. The hospital nurse staff would walk with me whenever I asked, which, was several times a day!! I was at the hospital for four days, but felt I could have gone home the second day.
Getting over the anemia was much harder than removing my acoustic neuroma!