Saved by the Kids
In September 1997, I posted to the ANA guestbook. My father, who was turning 58 in October, was facing the AN challenge. When diagnosed a year earlier, his AN was 2.5 mm. His doctor told him to wait to see if it would grow, and it did: it was now at a 6 mm. In addition, he'd had three severe bouts of extreme vertigo followed by nausea.
Dad is an avid golfer and scuba diver. He'd already lost most of the hearing on the left side, but he was concerned about other side effects, and did not want to lose his beloved hobbies. He has always prided himself on his independence, and the prospect of irreversible side effects of AN was causing episodes of severe depression.
My dad is the type who tends to avoid doctors, and our (his three kids and nine grandkids) biggest fear was that he would make a decision without really investigating all his options. For instance, my dad initially stated that he thought he would get treatment here in Wichita to make sure travel was convenient for my mom. I told him that finding the best treatment, the best doctors, and having the fewest complications would be the most convenient for mom. The ENT-doc and neuro-doc he met with here locally both recommended the intrusive surgery (it's all they do and they haven't done very many). Both docs relayed most of the "myths" that are in the Archive.
I was looking for any positive stories, advice, or support from other AN patients so as to encourage him to be more proactive. As a result of my post to the ANA guestbook, I corresponded with at least a dozen people. I made copies of all the emails I received, and given them to my dad. I tried to stay neutral on recommending any treatment since I'm certainly no expert and the decision was ultimately his, one he'll have to live with.
In October 1997, my dad went to Dallas to interview some AN specialists that were recommended to us. He chose Dallas for two reasons: 1) my brother lives there and 2) he was interviewing surgeons for additional information and second opinions, not so much as for "selection". One of the Dallas surgeons does the traditional surgery and the other does the non-intrusive surgery (Gamma Knife). From the info that I received by e-mail and passed on to dad, he was leaning towards the "Gamma Knife" at this point, but reserving judgement.
From the correspondence, we also found out that wait-and-watch may be a valid approach for my dad. After all the consultations, this is the one he ended up choosing... Today, my dad received results of his most recent MRI. His latest results, incredibly, show no growth in the last seven months! The AN is currently at a 7mm. Discovered at 3, quick growth to a 6, slow growth to a 7, and apparently for the time being... dormant. So the long story short is that he gets to delay any decision for awhile.
Last Edited: Wednesday, October 30, 2002