A jab in the ear??

Following consultations with Mr Rutherford and Prof Lloyd, we agreed that it would be beneficial for me to have intratympanic gentamycin injections.

Now the human body is an amazing thing, and the world of medical science is just something else. An acoustic neuroma also comes with the benefit of you learning practically all there is to know about all things skull base and vestibular!

So, gentamycin is typically an antibiotic. So, how does that treat a brain tumour you might be asking yourself? Well, one of the unfortunate side effects of this drug is that it is ototoxic. That’s to say, it damages the mechanisms of the inner ear, including vestibular function.

One day, somebody in the medical profession of using this side effect to actually benefit people like me.

By being given a series of gentamycin injections directly into the ear (yes, I still cringe at the thought of it!), the vestibular function is slowly destroyed. This process is usually pretty gradual and allows the brain to begin to compensate for the lack of balance on one side, without this process impacting on your everyday life.

So at the end of March 2018, I had my first treatment. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences.

Lying down on my side, and after my ear being gently cleaned out and being given a local anaesthetic, the gentamycin was administered by way of an injection through my ear, and eardrum, into my inner ear.

I guess it was more uncomfortable than painful. The local anaesthetic did work to a degree. However, I did feel it hit the ear canal. There was pain for a couple of seconds but then it was just a case of lying there for 30 minutes to allow the drug to settle in the area.

My amazing friend Di offered to drive me to one of my appointments… I think she may well have wished she hadn’t when she saw what was involved!

Afterwards I felt ok. I mean, I was feeling dizzy and wobbly at this point anyway, so I didn’t really think that it would make a difference. In fact, we were all hopeful that this course of treatment might in fact help with the dizziness and nausea I was feeling already.

I would have another two sets of injections a week apart from each other.

By the time the final treatment came around, I was feeling pretty awful. Little did we know that things were about to take an unexpected turn for the worst.

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Published by Sara C

It's hugely important to raise more awareness of brain tumours and the implications they can have on patients' lives. I aim to help to create wider understanding of the effects brain surgery and a diagnosis can have on an individual and their families on a emotive level through my own experience.

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