By, Jakki Marks
East Hanover, NJ – Ken Marks, 52, was living a seemingly normal life; two kids away at school, a successful job in the city. Except one thing in his life was differen; Ken had a brain tumor. What started out as a ringing in his left ear, a feeling one might experience after a concert, turned out to be a tumor that had formed in his head.
After six months of the constant ringing in his ear, Ken’s doctor recommended he go for an MRI. Ken was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, which is a benign tumor on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain.
There were a few options Ken was given for his tumor. He could get radiation, a nonsurgical procedure recommended for small or benign tumors. He could also go under the knife in surgery. Lastly, Ken was given the option to not do anything and see if the tumor progressed.
“After doing my research and reviewing the results of others, I saw great risk with either radiation or surgery.” Ken says. “It seemed to me that my quality of life was the most important thing.”
Ken decided to leave the tumor alone for the time being. He feared that the surgery would result in a total loss of hearing of his left ear or possible facial nerve damage. He continued to go for MRI’s every six months to check on the tumor’s growth. After a year passed, the ringing grew louder, and he started hearing a “crackling” noise. This was the point when he decided to go through with the surgery.
The procedure Ken chose was called Middle Fossa, which offered the best opportunity of saving his hearing. Derald Brackmann, the surgeon who developed this procedure, was located in Los Angeles, California. Breckmann had the most experience performing the surgery and was clearly the best candidate for the job.
When Ken arrived in California, his doctors assured him that there was a good chance his hearing would be saved. Ken went into surgery with anxious feelings, and awoke six hours later in what he described as “surprisingly little pain”. After spending only a day in ICU, he was moved to a private room, and a day and a half later he was checking out of the hospital.
“I was extremely impressed with the professionalism and experience of the doctors and nurses.” Ken raves, post-op. “Emotionally, I could not have envisioned a better scenario”.
The only recovery issue Ken dealt with was minimal; his balance was a little off because they had cut his nerve on the left side. After spending some recovery time in California, he ready to go back to New Jersey. Ken was back on his feet and driving the day after he arrived home, and was back at work the following week. He took nothing stronger than Advil for the minimal pain he experienced.
It has now been six weeks since the surgery, and Ken is back to his normal routine, including going to work and the gym. When reflecting on the experience, Ken says, “(the experience) was intellectually a major event in my life. I have not been ‘scarred’ by this event and I have my doctors to thank for that. Lastly, the experience does expose the mortality of our lives and how we should be thankful for all we have.”