The past few months I have been taken aback with some hearing loss, painful reactions to loud noise and pressure to the inner ear. I took the steps to see some doctors to find out where the cause came from. Everyone seemed to be poking around and sucking out the wax. But the right ear was the weird one, not waxy at all! The third doctor, after using the wax sucker mechanism and coming up dry, began to take me more seriously. After numerous tests and questions, he decided to order me to the MRI room.
That white cold room under the ground was just a little surreal… after putting my head into the head gear it looked like I was ready to be blasted off to join the Mars probe. “Lay completely still”, I was told. And then after 45 minutes oh how I had to pee. Then I was rolled back out to the land of mortals to shoot some solution into my veins for another session in the white cocoon. (I asked to go to the toilet then, and was given a firm negative response, they even told me to stop all that swallowing movement!) Finally after almost 90 minutes of holding my pee and keeping my saliva still the technicians said “Finished!” I then ran to the toilet unbeknownst to me that the white capsuled scanning machine had spotted a tumor at the stem of my brain that had been putting pressure on my inner ear’s nerve, cutting off the ability of my inner ear to receive messages clearly from the outside world into my inner reality.
As I walked to talk over the results with the ear specialist I breathed a sigh of ‘okay’ and reminded my brain not to worry about anything as God was always in control of these sort of things. The ear specialist went over the pictures one after another and saw the tumor and continued to say that though he wasn’t a neurologist these tumors are pretty easy-peazy to remove and always benign. Phew, I could sleep now without any problem, right? And I did, no reason to worry.
A few days later I went in to see the expert, the neurologist. He seemed a little confused in his opening remarks, looking me over maybe wondering why I, such a healthy specimen, was sitting at the other side of his desk. Then when he began to piece together his conversation with the ear specialists he produced the MRI data on his screen. He spoke words that sounded like a tiny low whisper. I wondered if this was good? So I said something to the effect of, “Can you speak up, I can’t hear a word you are mumbling!” And so he spoke his truth a little louder. His truth did not set me free!
Let me simply let you know what my little ears, the left good and the right half blocked, understood. As the neurologists looked on his computer screen flipping through the data provided by the MRI, he pointed to this and that in my brain. I nodded as he pointed at shapes that looked like misty clouds. Then he explained that the white stuff that looked similar to my pocket trumpet was actually a tumor and it was atypical. “Atypical?” Not good, I surmised. Although I am not your typical man and a little proud of that fact, I knew enough to know that an atypical tumor in this case was bad news! According to the photo-data the tumor had definitely sneaked it’s way into the hearing canal making it an Acoustic Neuroma tumor. It was also seemingly a broad based tumor, meaning that it had perhaps components of the less harmful Meningioma. Hearing him talk in his soothing tones was deceiving and I my eyes widened and my breathing quickened. But this next sentence hit me between the solar plexus: “We Thais, if we operate, are not quite good enough to guarantee that you won’t be deaf and maybe a little odd looking afterwards!” Huh? What are you saying? “Yes, these tumors can attach and wrap themselves to nerves that send important messages to the brain and vice-versa and taking out the tumor without damage to the nerves is a difficult challenge.
I really was ears at that point! So the specialist tried to help me understand the consequences and risks, being that if I had the operation in Thailand that I would most definitely lose the hearing from my right side and a very high chance of paralysis on the same side of the face. Not what I wanted to hear! He said that because of my young age and the fact that tests show my hearing is still okay on the right side and because of the type of work I do, public speaking, he wanted only the very best to do the surgery. “Okay”, I thought, “agreed to the max!”
He continued in soft tones giving me a quick shot of hope that I would not look like a 90 year old invalid by stating that there could still be a chance of saving my hearing somewhat and keeping the famous Peter DeWit facial expressions that he is known for when speaking in front of audiences. He intimated that my best chance of keeping some of my hearing and my ‘face’ was to go abroad to the very best and do the surgery. Agreed again. Then he said, “I need to operate now, you can go now. And give me a call soon and I’ll let you know the next step!”
Next step? I have to admit that my inner being was sinking faster than I had ever felt it sink. I did not want to look anyone oin the eye, but saw my wife literally shaking beside me as my soul gasped for a little more hope-air. At 50 years ‘young’ this comes so unexpected. I used to brag to myself that I had never spent one single night in a hospital, (besides at birth in the warm arms of my mother). And I have always tried so hard to stay fit and eat my cereals and work-out to boast mean guns! So why was my brain doing something so foolish betraying my healthy body? Not sure, DNA gone awry? My brain just cannot answer that one! But kidding aside, it was a bit heavy to receive this fresh news. And what was next for me with all those I knew and loved? Do I go public and ask the world to pray or do i just tell God in the private chambers of my heart? Wisdom, give me wisdom on the next steps, I pleaded! So, maybe both the telling of others and to my God. This is the time that I need to ruthlessly trust that my friends will do what they say, and that is pray. And then I need to do what I always said I would do in times like this, ruthlessly trust that God will be what He has always been, a healer. Not just someone else’s healer, but my healer.