Did you know that next week is national Acoustic Neuroma awareness week? Yea it’s ok… there’s only about 5,000 of us who do. I’m glad that it’s something that is beginning to draw attention, though there is still far to go in breakthrough and research.
I thought that today in honor of AN awareness week I would do something a little different. I’ve been throwing around for a while doing an pictorial update to show the progression of my healing. A lot of you are friends with me on social media so I often forget that there are some who may not know the actual progress I’ve made.
After my initial surgery in November of 2015, I immediately began looking for resources. Looking for something, anything to give me a glimmer of hope. I knew I believed God for my healing, but aside from that just finding information on what I had just experienced was difficult. These neuromas are still largely rare and unless you have excellent and optimistic doctors like I do then finding a physician to give you any kind of idea of what to expect is rare. Facial nerves are just too sensitive and finicky to make assumptions. In cases like mine research is largely left up to the individual… and Google can be a terrible foe in times like these.
Thankfully I found a forum for AN survivors (https://www.anausa.org/). It was the one and only location I could find where other individuals were weighing in on their experiences. I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled until I found someone who had made excellent progress and was willing to be vulnerable and share her story with me. She shared her journey of healing and she shared pictures of her progress. When I saw her pictures my hope sailed to a new level. Seeing her recovery gave me something to set my mind on. I told her that people needed to see these. Understandably she was hesitant. To me she looked amazing, but to her it was a new and different “her” that she was still learning.
I realized a little while back that I was very much the same. When I look at myself I still see so much of the progress I need to make and can easily look over the HUGE improvement that has taken place. And the more and more I hear stories of others walking through out this journey and ones similar it’s impressed on my heart to share. Sharing can be difficult because you can be hesitant that people will see your pictures, hear your story and think “it’s not all that great”, or “that’s nothing to get excited about”. But since I largely doubt any of you will reach out to give me that kind of feedback, I feel that sharing more is the right thing to do.
So… without further delay and in the event that someone else out there is reading this and looking for hope for their own healing… here is my journey:
December 2nd, 2015: Two days post-op. It never entered my mind I would come out with facial weakness.
December 6th, 2015: began taping my my eye so it would close.
February 20th, 2016: Recovering from a second surgery due to spinal fluid from my incision.
March 25th 2016: Eye weight inserted into my right eyelid to help it close.
May 3rd, 2016: Still waiting! Oh that eye!!
August 7th, 2016: Not sure what happened in June and July, but I was apparently having too much fun to take pictures. And my face is starting to respond!
September 13th, 2016: the corner of my mouth is finally on the move. My eye looks more “alive” as well.
November 13th, 2016: Two days out from my 3rd surgery. Notice my smile line is back!
December 3rd, 2016: between my 3rd and 4th surgeries. My lower lid has tightened up some.
February 14th, 2017: V-day! More contour coming back to my face. I’m developing a dimple in my chin from my muscle “over” recovering. Eye weight still in.
March 4th, 2016: Iyla’s 3rd birthday party! I’ve learned how to position the camera to make my eyelid “disappear” lol.
April 19th, 2017: Eye weight is out for now! Something about posing with my husband just makes me feel better :).
Whew, that was a lot! Looking at the pictures this way gives me such a great snapshot of the goodness of God through this journey.. I look at some of these pictures and just think, “wow, Gods grace was on me more than I knew”.
Now some less fun pictures…my open mouth smile…these start much later in the healing process. To be honest with you when I tried to smile previous to these pictures the only teeth visibly in the right side were my front teeth (tooth) dear teeth.. please come back into view!!
November 8th, 2016: Incisor where art thou?
April 3rd, 2017: Here comes my canine! Notice the lovely stitch from my eye weight coming out.
May 6th, 2017: Not where I’m going to be.. but so far from where I’ve been!
So there you have it! Welcome in to my most vulnerable place… my face! As hard as it is to document where you are WHEN you’re there, take it from me… if you can’t do it for any other reason, do it as symbolic stake to drive in the ground and say to yourself, “I’m not staying here forever. I will look back at this moment from a higher place than where I am now”. I’m already a living testimony that you can see healing past the timeframe the doctors give. Don’t let someone’s expertise (though good and valuable) be the final say in your healing. Anyway, I’m excited to see continued progress through my next round of therapy and look forward to giving you all big open mouth, tight eyelid grin :).