Oct 29, 2021 Latest post:
Dec 14, 2021
Hello dear friends and family, and welcome to our CaringBridge site. We are grateful for this resource and for those of you who encouraged us to create this network of support.
For a little bit of background, Liz had a stroke in 2011 as a result of a congenital heart defect that had previously gone undetected. As a result she had ongoing neurological care in the years immediately following the event. In 2014, Liz was diagnosed with a vestibular schwannoma after a neurological episode presenting as a sudden onset hand tremor caused her neurologist to perform a seizure workup. The MRI from that analysis revealed the tumor, which while benign, is located in an epicenter of nerves that affect balance, hearing, and facial function, including eyelid movement.
Liz took the wait-and-see approach to monitor the tumor’s progression and for five years, it didn’t grow at all. Then within one year, it doubled in size. Since the tumor is still small - 4 mm - and is not yet presenting symptoms, we can expect that the tumor will continue to grow and surgery is the best option to avoid future complications.
The surgical approach is an invasive, intercranial procedure called the Middle Fossa Approach (for those who want to geek out on the medical terms!). It is estimated to be 6-8 hours long and involves two surgeons - an otolaryngologist (Dr. Gubbels) and a microsurgeon specializing in base skull tumors (Dr. Youssef). Both surgeons working on Liz are highly skilled in their field and located at a very reputable hospital, University of Colorado at Anschutz.
Generally speaking, the outcome of the surgery has statistics in our favor. However, the vulnerability of the nerve cluster can cause deafness, facial paralysis, and vertigo. All of the nerve function could also be preserved. We won’t know the outcome until we are on the other side of the procedure, scheduled for October 29th. Liz will be in ICU for the first night and then in a step down unit for 2-3 nights barring any unforeseen complications. After that she will be home recovering, off of work for 3 months to fully allow her brain to heal.
Liz and Mark won’t know what their needs will be until they know how Liz fares during surgery. For now, thoughts, prayers, love, and visions for a positive outcome are well received and hot commodities. The gift of your presence in Liz and Mark’s life is immeasurable to them. Thank you for being here!