at UCD - A Case History
I am Pat Elliott, two years retired from the fire service in 2001 when I first experienced dizziness in the morning before getting out of bed. It happened a few times and I made a note to check with my doctor but never did and it stopped happening.
Around March of 2002 I saw my doctor about getting a hearing test and found the hearing much worse in the right ear and that I had tinnitus in that ear. An MRI indicated the acoustic neuroma was 13 by 10 by 12 millimeters. The surgeon said he could take care of it or I could receive radiation or do nothing. He didn't favor the radiation but suggested there was no hurry since AN's are known to be slow growing. I checked the Internet for acoustic neuroma info and was comfortable waiting.
In the meantime I learned another member of the small fire department I worked at had the same "rare" medical problem. His was too large for radiation and had surgery. His surgery resulted in some nerve damage that affected the right side of his face somewhat and lost hearing in his right ear but otherwise was fine and continues to work as a fire captain.
In December of 2002 an MRI indicated the AN was now 16 by 12 by 14 millimeters. The surgeon was still ready to operate, but said the growth was slow and I could wait a little longer if I wasn't ready. I went to see the Gamma Knife guy at Kaiser Sacramento. He told me the stuff the Internet said and sent me to see Dr. Chen, the FSR guy at the UCD (Univ. of California - Davis) Cancer Center in Sacramento. Dr. Chen is an Assistant Professor at UCD, Board Certified in Radiation Oncology. His MD degree is from Taipei Medical College and PhD from Johns Hopkins Medical School.
Dr. Chen was surprised to hear the surgeon wanted to operate and said I should not wait any longer because the tumor was too close to the brainstem (no one else mentioned that). He told me all the stuff I learned on the Internet and that he could do the five-day FSR treatment or the 28-day treatment. The 5 day being convenient because I would only have to travel to Sacramento five times, but the 28 day treatment would have a better chance of preserving the hearing in my right ear (in his opinion, no guarantees).
So, to save the hearing we did the 28 trips to Sacramento -- 31 actually, with one trip to get fitted to the mask. This was time consuming and uncomfortable, I was 30 minutes locked in that mask while it was setting up and they kept saying just a few more minutes. Plus 28 treatments and two dry runs when the machine wouldn't "boot-up". The Radiation Technicians were great. Very efficient; it only took about fifteen minutes to lock me in the mask and shoot me six times at different angles and send me on my way. The machine, made by Varian Assoc. was the Clinac 2100c. I got hit with 180 rads each day for 28 days, with weekends and holidays off, for a total dose of 5040 rads.
Side affects were minimal. After two weeks I got a dull headache in the back of my head. The Doctor didn't think it was from the radiation but a few days later one of the techs asked if I was getting a headache yet, she said that was common. She also said I might be more tired than usual, and sure enough I had been taking little rest periods each day without connecting it to the radiation; just thought I was getting lazy.
I am done with the radiation and expect to get an MRI in December, 2003. So far my hearing is about the same as it was before treatment. I'll keep you informed.
Last Edited: Thursday, August 14, 2003