I’m posting this on behalf of my wife…
First I want to report that we found a superb surgeon that knows ES and has performed many styloidectomies: Dr. Nathan Hales, in San Antonio, TX. He’s a very, very skilled, experienced surgeon - over 20 years of experience, and sometimes is in the operating room until 2 a.m. He’s an ENT, but focuses on head and neck surgery, and is extremely experienced with thyroid cancer. He’s a very simple, modest person, with NO ego. Just meeting him on the street, you’d never believe he was a world-class surgeon. As with many such doctors, he’s hard to get an appointment with. Larisa’s appointment was 2 months out, then another 3 months before he could do her surgery.
She had symptoms for over 2 years. Moderate hearing loss, continuous tinnitus (“whooshing”), and a feeling like “a nail was stuck inside my head.” Some symptoms, including heart fluttering, dizziness, queasy stomach, etc. depended on what position she was in. She was quite miserable.
We went to doctor after doctor over those 2 years, an NOBODY could figure it out; they’d just shrug their shoulders, with “gee, I don’t know, I hope you get better…” Over, and over and over. Larisa started having spells of major depression, overcome with fear that this is what her life would be like from now on.
Then, just on a leap of faith, I took her to one of the top neurosurgeons in Texas, Dr. Christopher Bogaev. He’s one of these “elite” surgeons, who removes 5 to 8 brain tumors per week. He has to review your records before he’ll even accept you as a patient, and even then it can take several months to get into his office. I figured if anybody could help her, he could. I sent him her records, history and images, and he said he’d see her in a week! But… she had had so many negative experiences she didn’t want to go; it’d just be another bitter disappointment, but I managed to drag her into his office.
We looked at her CT in the exam room and he didn’t see anything at first. Then she said, “it feels like there’s a nail in my head.” He said “let me look again.” He turned back around to the CT image and immediately said, “your styloid is huge, you have Eagle Syndrome.” We’d never heard of it. Unfortunately, Dr. Bogaev is a soft tissue surgeon (tumors, vascular, nerve), not a bone guy, so he couldn’t work on it.
Just calling around town at random, I eventually called Hales’s office and asked if he had any experience with Eagle Syndrome. Nobody else had ever heard of it, including some ENTs with 30-40 years of experience. The lady on the phone said, “oh, yes, he’s very experienced with Eagle Syndrome.” I was so excited I almost fell out of my chair. Well… the rest is history.
Dr. Hales prefers transcervical styloidectomies, because it’s less traumatic, has faster recovery and presents total access to the styloid, compared to the tonsilar approach.
They kept Larisa in the hospital overnight for observation, and after sleeping off the anasthesia for a couple of days, she was more up and about. Her symptoms were GONE!!! I saw her sitting on the back porch in the morning sun, with her eyes closed. She said, “I’m just enjoying sitting here; for the first time in 2 years, without feeling like there’s a big nail stuck in my head.” She was almost in tears.
It’s been a couple of weeks now; her hearing is almost completely returned. The tinnitus, heart fluttering, uneasy stomach, etc. are all gone. The “nail” feeling is completely gone, and both sides of her head now feel the same. Her face is smoother and not distorted from continuously tolerating her symptoms.
I hate to think where we’d be if I hadn’t decided to gamble with going to Dr. Bogaev. Going to him was really just a hunch, out of desperation. Then, out of sheer luck, we found Dr. Nathan Hales to do the surgery. Maybe there IS such a thing as a Guardian Angel!
Footnote: after Bogaev said it looked like ES, we went to another “highly recommended” ENT who turned out to be a jerk. He actually said “you don’t have Eagle Syndrome, I don’t know what it is.” That was when I kept searching, and ran across Dr. Hales. After the surgery, Dr. Hales said her styloid was about 1.5 inches long, with lots of calcification.