Wednesday, February 25, 2015

1124. Handphone caused an acoustic neuroma?

Thur Feb 26, 2015

I woke up at 6.45 am today as I had slept late. I had right calf muscle cramps yesterday and my left lower back ache had been present for some weeks. I decided to use the Japanese ointment applying directly onto the affected area. No more pain now.

Every morning, I discipline myself to go to the fitness park to exercise on the bar bender, abdominal trainer, cycling machine, standing push up and bar bender. Poor quality machines provided by the government as they are for the masses - free. The cycling machine is loud and squeaky waking up the neighbourhood. It has no resistance and I just simply pedal noisily. The abdominal trainer has no resistance too. The bar bender is the only one with resistance.   
At 6.45 am, the park's white lights were on. The sky was greyish blue and soon changed to light blue and then white. The park lights switched off at 7 am but the amber roadside lamps were still on. Today, I heard 3 types of bird sounds. One is tweet, tweet, tweet high above the trees on my left. One is like chirping twice. One is like coo-coo-coo.  At 64, I am sure I can hear such sounds clearly and am grateful.

A few days ago, I met an old friend from some 25 years ago, seeing her married, having a child, working hard in the corporate world in communications, divorced and is now a retiree. We did not keep in touch. Some 7 years ago, I was shocked to hear she had brain tumour but we were not close and so I did not pry.

However, she had recovered but must go for yearly MRI scans. "I still cannot smile normally," she said. "My left face was once paralysed after the surgery. Now, feeling has returned."

I did notice that she always look serious during the dinner organised to welcome another friend who came from Australia. This friend had breast cancer and has remission on chemotherapy.

"Is your tumour an auditory neuroma?" I asked her as I sent her home after dinner. She does not drive and wanted a lift to the subway to go home by herself. It would inconvenient me since I did not pass by her home but I said it was OK.

Peace had returned to her self as she sounded happier. "It is up to yourself to be positive," she told me. She was very fortunate to have found an experienced Australian surgeon who operated to remove the bigger than golf-sized tumour from her left brain. Her office colleague referred him to her and her office paid for the surgery. An American surgeon she found on the internet asked for US$500,000 and that was out of her budget.

"He drilled two holes in my brain. After the first hole, I went home to rest as staying in the Australian hospital cost $1,000 per day. The next hole, he removed the tumour but there is still a small piece left. He could not remove all as it would damage my brain. My left face was paralysed." A good friend housed her during her recuperation and had long walks and talks with her. 

It must be horrible for anybody. Some would have commited suicide. Must be a rough road to recovery, being jobless and "useless."

She discovered differences in hearing from an overseas phone call. The left ear could not hear well. She had lost her balance some time but did not think much about it. Some ear pain was ignored.

"Can you cycle now?" I asked as she takes long walks in the morning with a group of friends.
"I can, but I will fall down if I stop suddenly."
"What is the cause of the acoustic neuroma?" I asked. "What did your surgeon say?"
"He would not comment but I know it must be from my handphone radiation. Sometimes, I press the phone on my ear for 2 hours talking to people. Over the years, the neuroma developed."

"What about radiation as therapy?" I asked.
"My surgeon said surgical removal is best as the tumour recur after radiation. It is very difficult to operate then as the radiation had bombed the area into a mess."

I did some internet research. Surgical excision is the best. Radiotherapy does not eliminate 100%  of the tumours as some cells may be resistant.

With 7 years of survival, I am sure she has recovered. Acoustic neuromas are also known as acoustic schwannomas. These are slow-growing nerve sheath tumours. I had two schwannomas on my left wrist and left foot removed some 5 years ago. I ignored them as they grew bigger. The one on my left foot became 50% golf-ball size and I could not wear shoes and I decided to be operated. The left wrist's Schwannoma caused my left middle finger to suddenly contract, like a "trigger finger." I decided to be operated again.  They have not grown back. Much depends on the skill and expertise of the surgeon.

I had an experienced surgeon friend to remove them. He did warn me that the schwannomas may recur and he would have to chop off my left hand as he could not remove all without paralysing my hand. My left hand forefinger and middle finger was numb for some years but some feeling has returned now. As for the left foot, he said that it would not recur and I presumed he had got the whole nerve out.

She was fortunate and so was I, to get a very good surgeon and that our Schwannomas are not cancerous. There is much to be grateful in being healthy in autumn years. Many young men abuse their health. I saw one young man furiously gaming online with his legs at right angles to his body as he leant back to fight the computer demons. In a few years, he would have sore wrists and back ache. So what? Young men are invincible. Master of the Universe.

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