Greg Wood

First post: Jun 13, 2022 Latest post: Nov 24, 2022
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Do you avoid going to the doctor at all costs? No one told me that when you turn 50 that your health starts to deteriorate. I have always heard that when you turn 40 you have to start holding things you read out further and maybe get those reader glasses that you lose all the time. So when I noticed hearing loss in my left ear, I thought, first it's the eyes, next it's the ears. 

In 2019, I had a hearing test, mainly because I was annoyed that I had to switch holding my cell phone to my right ear vs my left to hear better and that made it difficult to take notes with my right hand. The audiologist told me "yes there is some hearing loss but not at a level that I would need a hearing aid."  I was  excited because I would have really felt like I had achieved a level of aging that I was not ready for.  Fast forward to this last fall when suddenly it felt like there was a cup over my ear or like my ear needed to pop.  After putting off getting another hearing test for over 3 months, I decided that I should do something. This hearing test showed a DRAMATIC hearing loss.  At this time my doctor suggested an MRI to "rule out" a tumor.  He said there is only a 2-3% chance of a tumor.  I thought good, they will just confirm that I have the big brain that I always knew I had.

I can clearly remember the day when my audiologist called to say that I was one of the one of the 2-3 percenters and he was referring me to a specialist.  On February 22 (2/22/22) I was told I have a large, rare benign tumor with two fancy names (Vestibular Schwannoma and Acoustic Neuroma) . One sounded like one of my yoga moves and the other an instrument without wires. The fancy name is where the fun stopped. And the "specialist", was anything but special. In what seemed like only  5 minutes he laid out the facts, like I would need surgery and I would most likely lose 100% hearing in my left ear,  then asked if I have any questions.

My journey then started to find the best Dr. and team to perform my brain surgery. Throughout this process I was told by physician friends and in everything that I read is that you want to go to a high volume center. I had one close friend who is an orthopedic surgeon that said the reason you want a "high volume" center is that the whole team knows how to treat the patient. The before, during and after is just as important as the surgeon's capabilities.  I met with surgeons at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital, but through my research one team kept coming up over and over, Dr. Rick Friedman and Dr. Stuart Schwartz of  the University of California at San Diego. It turns out that Dr. Friedman has dedicated the last 30 years of his career studying and treating this type of tumor. His clinic at UCSD was set up specifically to address this "rare tumor." And on June 28th I will be having surgery to remove the tumor.

Really my journey started a little over a year ago when I was asked to serve as an elder in my church. At that time I said to God, okay I yield my life to you, refine me the way you see fit. I also hung onto the verse: “'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. '” — Jeremiah 29:11.  So I jumped in with both feet serving God, my church and our community not knowing where the next year would take us. Then last fall, Julie, my wife, was referred to a surgeon to have a hysterectomy after years of suffering with uterine fibroid tumors.  I thought this was it, this is what God was going to bring us through - nope there is more that God wants us to walk through. 

I do find myself at peace and repeating in my head, "don't worry about tomorrow, as tomorrow will take care of itself." - Mathew 6:34. 

Here are the details:
- On June 24th, our family (Julie and the kids) will be flying out to San Diego for a couple of days of fun and pre-op appointments.
-  For the first 5 days we have an Air BnB - then the family will be moving onto the UCSD campus in family housing
- On June 28th - I will be in for a 6 hour surgery
- June 28 -June 30th ICU
- July 2 - discharged to the on campus family housing for ongoing observation and any rehab (physical therapy) that is needed.
- July 8th final appointment to clear me to travel back home
- July 9th fly back home to Philadelphia

Specific prayer needs:
- Safe uneventful travels
- Peaceful fun as a family in the days leading up to surgery
- That we would have access to the larger family housing (they have hotel style and apartment style)
- The surgery would go as planned
- No post surgery complications
- That everything stays on schedule and we are able to fly home on the 9th as planned

We will post updates following my surgery to let folks how things are going.