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Schwannoma – What Is It? – Continuing Jackie’s Story

Updated on May 25, 2020
Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron is a retired Customer Service Rep. for Verizon. Colleges attended: Triton, Melrose Park, Illinois and Elgin, in Elgin, Illinois.

Continuing with Jackie's Story

I am writing the true story of a friend combined with the story of Jackie, in Jackie's Story.

This is a mixture of fact and fiction where after years of believing that she had Ménière's disease has finally learned that what my friend has is a Schwannoma and also Ménière's.

My friend Jackie
My friend Jackie | Source

Jackie’s Story

When we left Jackie, she and her live in boyfriend had been fighting and Rick had walked out leaving Jackie to believe that he was gone, that he would not be coming back.

Before he left Rick had called his ex-wife Susan. That is the reason that Jackie thought he would not be returning.

Continuing with Jackie's Story

So I can write the true story of a friend’s condition, this is a mixture of fact and fiction where Jackie (not her real name), has just informed Rick that she has an appointment with a neurosurgeon Monday morning.

After having returned from a visit with Susan, his ex-wife, where Rick asked Susan to take him back believing that Jackie did not want him in her life, but without waiting for an answer from Susan Rick returned to Jackie, where he found her in tears and for the first time in his life he realized, he is in love.

Jackie's News

The news hit Rick like a ton of bricks when Jackie told, that she has an appointment with a neurosurgeon and why. Never before, not even when he found his way to the bottom of a bottle had he felt so helpless, and all he could do was hold Jackie until she cried herself to sleep.

Seven years before she met Rick

Jackie was awakened by the feeling that her bed was spinning. She felt like Alice in Wonderland being carried away by a tornado. Was she in a tornado? Was she in an earthquake? She had to find out; she had to get out of bed.

There was no sound in her bedroom except the buzzing of a bee or was it a fly, Jackie wasn’t sure which, she had not seen either. It must be her personal nemesis which visits her often but never allows itself be seen.

The spinning is so bad she can almost taste it. Jackie sits upright and swings her legs off the side of the bed and stands up slowly to prevent the blackness that sometimes engulfs her when she stand up to fast and her blood pressure is low.

Now the room seems to be spinning, but Jackie realizes that something is wrong with her. She calls work and tell the supervisor that she is to dizzy to drive. She called her doctor to find out if he could see her sometime today as she told the nurse she knew that something is wrong. Jackie got an appointment for later that afternoon and by that time the dizziness had subsided and she could drive the couple of miles to his office.

Arriving at her doctor’s office Jackie wondered if she brought her nemesis with her, but it sounded more like the sound of Rice-Krispies's snap,crackle and pop.

The sound that Jackie hears amplified 100 times


Jackie’s doctor informed her that the spinning and dizziness is called vertigo, that he could not find any reason for the vertigo or the sound of her nemesis, unless she has a middle ear infection, and suggested she see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist and promptly made an appointment for her to go directly to his office.

At the ENT office, she was given a hearing test, which came back normal. Then she was sent to the nearby hospital for an MRI, which also came back normal. What do I do now? Jackie asks him, nothing ever happens to our bodies without a cause.

The doctor smiled, patted her hand and said “well my dear! We can’t find anything wrong with you” and told her if the noise and/or the vertigo comes back she should call his right away.

Jackie went through this for the next few years but, only occasionally did she awake with the room spinning like the first time she went to the ear, nose and throat specialist. She did however make many visits to the emergency room for migraine headaches.

What led Jackie to believe that she has Ménière's?

Jackie was invited to a bridal shower and the hostess had been incapacitated for a couple of weeks prior to the shower. The hostess said that she is suffering from Ménière’s disease and Jackie’s ears perked-up when she heard her hostess say that she has noise in her ears and her vertigo was so bad she could not walk without help.

Jackie thought to herself ‘Oh My Gosh! Could I have Ménière's?’

What are the symptoms of Ménière's? __ Source

Doctors are trained to treat symptoms and most often with prescriptions. So they treat the balance and hearing symptoms with drugs they feel are most appropriate. And honestly, do you not go to the doctor for help with your Meniere's disease symptoms? Don’t you expect a prescription? The treatment offered will always reflect the symptoms, never the underlying cause, which ironically can be a drug’s side effects.

A doctor comes to this diagnostic conclusion after asking a series of questions. They will have evaluated what is known as the classic Meniere’s symptoms:

  1. 1. Inner ear pressure – Jackie is not sure if she has that, it does feel weird sometimes in the left ear.
  2. 2. Vertigo – Jackie definitely has vertigo she has had several episodes since she saw the ENT, but because she felt she was being disbelieved she did not return, and the vertigo and the noise would go away after a while.
  3. 3. Tinnitus – This is a ‘ringing’ or perception of sound within the human ear. Jackie definitely had this also, but it is not a ringing per say. It is more like the snap crackle and pop of Rice Krispies, and then escalated into sounding like heavy radio static.
  4. 4. Hearing fluctuation – Jackie did not have this.

Jackie believed that she probably had Ménière's, but did not know what to do about it. She did not want to go back to the doctor, and have him smile, pat her hand and said “well my dear! We can’t find anything wrong with you” and tell her if the noise and/or the vertigo comes back she should call him right away.

During the next few years Jackie had continued to suffer with migraines with many trips to the local emergency room.

She had worked a few different jobs, before landing the bar tending job and then meeting Rick.

The moment of truth with a trip to the Emergency Room

Here it is five years after she started working at the Sweet Beginning Café and Bar and almost three years after she began living with Rick.

When Jackie and Rick had their fight and Rick went to visit his ex-wife. Jackie cried herself to sleep. When she awakened, the room was spinning and she also had a migraine and on top of that she had the static noise in her ear.

Jackie had suffered for years with migraine headaches. Now here she was with a migraine, vertigo, and static noise in her ear. She tried to call George but no answer, it being Sunday he was probably out with friends and she did not want to call Rick. She waited for the vertigo to subside, then drove herself to the hospital’s emergency room.

In the emergency room Jackie was taken into a room for an MRI, she was asked to lie on a table that was not wide enough for her arms along her side so she had to cross them across her stomach. She was given ear plugs then a helmet because the machine was so noisy. Jackie found that the ear plugs helped with the noise in her ear. Or maybe it was the noise of the machine that drowns out the noise in her ear.

The noise of the MRI machine

The first sound of the machine was like that of a foghorn, on a ship at sea. The next sound was that of a jackhammer that changed to that of a washing machine. Then finally after what seemed like an hour but was really only twenty minutes, that is what the technician told her.

Jackie was taken back to the emergency exam room to wait for the results of the MRI. She was given the usual medication for the migraine and drifted off to sleep. She was awakened by the emergency room doctor, who told her that they could not find anything wrong with her. He told her don’t look so sad, I have called a neurosurgeon and he advised that we do an MRI with contrast. The doctor inserted the dye in the IV, and a few minutes later another MRI was done, but this time with contrast (i.e. the dye that was in the veins).

This time when she was taken back to the examining room, the wait was a little longer and when the doctor came in he seemed excited, well we know what is wrong with you! You have a tumor, the good news is, it does not appear to be malignant but, I have made an appointment with the neurosurgeon for Monday morning to discuss treatment options.

It is not Ménière's disease Jackie asks. No, I mean I don't know if you have Ménière's disease or not the doctor said, but I do know what is causing the vertigo this time.

After years of believing that she was suffering with Ménière's disease Jackie has finally learned that what she has is not Ménière's disease. Or at least that is what she thought.

Jackie has an appointment with a neurosurgeon Monday morning

They arrive at the neurosurgeon’s office, a half hour before her appointment and it was an hour before Jackie and Rick were ushered into the office. Jackie handed the DVD from the hospital to the receptionist. They wait another half hour for the neurosurgeon to go over the results of the MRIs.

The doctor told Jackie that she has a tumor on the outside of the skull and he explained the one that she has is benign and how to tell the difference between a benign tumor and a malignant tumor. The neurosurgeon told her that the tumor she has is called a Schwannoma. She is confused. Is this good news? After learning to live with thinking she had Ménière’s disease. Is this better or worse?

Jackie told the neurosurgeon, for a long time I thought I had Ménière's disease. Well you can have Ménière's disease also.

Schwannoma removal

What is a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma)?

A vestibular schwannoma (also known as acoustic neuroma, acoustic neurinoma, or acoustic neurilemoma) is a benign, usually slow-growing tumor that develops from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear. The tumor comes from an overproduction of Schwann cells--the cells that normally wrap around nerve fibers like onion skin to help support and insulate nerves. As the vestibular schwannoma grows, it presses against the hearing and balance nerves, usually causing unilateral (one-sided) or asymmetric hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and dizziness/loss of balance. As the tumor grows, it can interfere with the face sensation nerve (the trigeminal nerve), causing facial numbness. Vestibular schwannomas can also press on the facial nerve (for the muscles of the face) causing facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the tumor. If the tumor becomes large, it will eventually press against nearby brain structures (such as the brainstem and the cerebellum), becoming life-threatening.

What is the treatment for a Schwannoma?

When she asked the neurosurgeon what could be done about the tumor, he told Jackie, “I can remove it surgically, I can zap it or we can watch it to see if it is growing and if it is growing I would need to remove it or zap it.”

When she asked what are the risks of surgery or zapping it. He told her that either would result in loss of hearing in the affected ear, and possible facial nerve damage.

Jackie said she would have to get another opinion and that she would have it watched. The neurosurgeon, said “Okay but if you wake up in a coma, call me right away so we can do emergency surgery” and he told Jackie that he would have an MRI done every three months to make sure the tumor is not growing.

A second opinion

Jackie called the ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) made and appointment to see him again. She took the DVD from the hospital and told him what the neurosurgeon had told her. The ENT doctor recommended that she see a different neurosurgeon……

A weight was lifted from her shoulders as she left the ENT’s office, Jackie now knew that she does not have Ménière's disease.

Going to learn the secret

Going to the Sweet Beginning to see my friend.
Going to the Sweet Beginning to see my friend. | Source

Story Without an End

Jodah's Story

Do you know?

What you would choose?

See results

© 2014 Shyron E Shenko


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