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In the time since doctors found a benign tumor resting on her cranial nerves, 29-year-old Stafford has regularly been open about her overwhelming anxieties leading up to a 12-hour operation to remove the mass, which included the risks she could lose her hearing function.
Surgery for acoustic neuroma typically is performed under anesthesia, and “involves removing the tumor through the inner ear or through a window in [the] skull,” according to Mayo Clinic.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely terrified of brain surgery. I am,” Stafford wrote in a post on April 3. “I’m terrified of far worse things that could happen and I’m terrified that I won’t take the time I need to recover because the guilt I might feel of being absent from my kids for too long.”
While the operation last month was a complete success, Stafford revealed in a post on Tuesday that, at one point during the surgery, she feared she had gone completely deaf. Her surgeon, Dr. B. Gregory Thompson from the University of Michigan, then took special care to temporarily stop the surgery in an effort to recover her hearing.
“There was a moment when they thought I might have lost my hearing completely,” Stafford wrote on Instagram, along with a picture of her husband and Thompson. “He made everyone & everything stop, they all sat, & waited for some time … the audio wave returned. His patience saved my hearing, as well as my face. You read right, he PRESERVED MY HEARING!”
During the operation, Thompson discovered an ”anomalous” artery, Stafford explained, which he had only encountered one other time. But thanks to Thompson’s experience, “when he cut in to see the artery, he was confident & prepared,” Stafford said of the doctor. She went on to call the entire medical team her dream team version of the 1992 Chicago Bulls and “MVPs of their craft.”
“This is him, the man God chose to remove my brain tumor,” Stafford’s post continued. “I will forever be in debt to this man & his team. I can’t express how grateful I am for him.. his kindness, empathy, patience, knowledge, & steady hands. Thank u Dr. Thompson, thank u so much to u & your team.”
Since returning home from the surgery, Stafford has shared photos of herself resting at home with the couple’s young daughters, Chandler, Sawyer and Hunter, as well as another of her posing with Matthew, 31.
While the procedure was successful, Stafford admitted she has struggled with health issues post-operation.
“I thought I could power through the pain and massive headaches that were challenging me throughout the day,” she wrote on April 24. “I figured I could pull my strength from one of the strongest people I know, Matthew. I told myself the pain would succumb to me, I wouldn’t succumb to it.”