My life had come to a sudden stop.
Most people would think of 2020 as a horrible year; however, this year holds a special place in my heart. I am finally able to work regular hours, stand on one leg without falling over and begin to learn new things. These may seem quite normal for a regular person, but it has been impossible for me ever since 2016 when I underwent a craniotomy.
Before 2016, I was a teacher trainer for English learning centers in both Taiwan and China. At the age of 30, I had a promising career in front of me and high prospects for life. All of this came to a sudden stop when I was diagnosed with brain tumors.
In 2016, I underwent a craniotomy to remove the largest and most dangerous tumor. In December of the same year, I received cyberknife (one of the most advanced form of radiotherapy) treatments for smaller tumors present in my brain. A week after my final treatment, I decided to message my friends to tell them that I’m alright. However, when I picked up the phone to type up a message, I realized that my eyes and fingers moved much slower than my mind. No matter how many times I tried to type up the message, my eyes and fingers always lingered on the previous letter far longer than necessary. I practiced typing on the phone every day during my hospital stay, but I could see little improvements.
Problems came one after another following the surgery. It had affected the nerves connected to my lower limbs, causing partial paralysis and balance problems. For example, I couldn’t stand on one leg without someone to hold on to; otherwise, I would fall over. After 3 months of physical therapy, I recovered from the paralysis and my balance improved slightly, but the doctor said that my sense of balance would never return to normal. Aside from this, I also found that I couldn’t concentrate for more than 10 minutes without having a severe headache or feeling fatigued. There was a constant brain fog and I couldn’t receive any new information. In order not to become a burden to my current company, I decided to quit my job. At that point, I felt that I had lost everything. I didn’t know what the future held. Or whether there was a future at all.
In June 2017, a former colleague introduced me to KickStart. At that point, I was grasping at straws. That was why I decided to give the SSP listening therapy a try. After my first session, I felt tired and sleepy. I went home and fell into a deep sleep. The next morning, I thought that I went about my routine as usual. However, my roommate said to me, “You’re very talkative today, that’s very unlike you. Stop talking…” I didn’t think too much of it at the time. After I finished my SSP treatment, I thought about whether any changes had taken place. Being a Virgo, I’m usually a very cautious person; I keep my feelings and emotions mostly to myself. However, I realized that my level of anxiety dropped after the SSP treatment. I cared less about what others think of me. I was able to completely be me. I used to get very upset about small things in the workplace, but now it doesn’t get to me like it used to. Of course, I was still very worried about the future, especially when a new tumor developed at the end of 2019. The difference, this time, was that I didn’t suppress my feelings anymore. Being able to cry in front of others and talk to them about how I feel – things that I would’ve never done in the past – made me feel more positive in the light of things.
In the few years following the surgery, I had tried different ways to improve my concentration, focus and balance. My improvements were so little and so slow that I soon began to lose confidence of a full recovery. I had convinced myself to just “live with it”. However, under KickStart’s recommendation, I started looking into the iLs treatment which combined music therapy with bone conduction to stimulate the vestibular, smell, sight, movement and cerebellum. I also noticed a testimony on the official website with symptoms similar to mine who successfully achieved success with the iLs treatment. This allowed me to regain my confidence and I decided to continue treatment.
KickStart’s treatment plan for me included an hour of music therapy every day. During the first 20 minutes of listening, I was required to perform sensory activities. For the rest 40 minutes, I was able to do my preferred activities while listening. I mostly used this time to do some light cleaning. After about a week, I realized that my brain fog lifted, eye movement became more agile and spatial awareness improved. This realization came from being able to perform the sensory activities better. For example, there was an activity in which I had to bounce a ball from one hand to the other. At first, it was difficult for me to judge where the ball was going to land in order to catch it. However, after the week of treatment, I was able to catch the ball successfully almost every time. Another sensory activity had me standing on a balance board. In the beginning, I often had to ask my roommate to support me while I’m on the board in case I fall. After the week, I was able to balance on the board by myself. I even challenged myself to stand on it with my eyes closed! I was overwhelmed with joy to feel that I’m regaining my sense of balance and movement. In my jazz class yesterday, I was perform the moves faster with my regained balance.
Even until now, I’m still doing the iLs treatment. I have completed the Sensory and Motor course, and have moved on to the Concentration course. I’m 13 sessions into this new course now, but also at about a week in, I found that my mind became clearer. I was able to absorb new information faster and I was beginning to regain my memory. What’s more was that I was able to finally regain my ability to read a book without being easily distracted by noise or getting a severe headache. These improvements enabled me to get my normal life on track with a regular 8-hour shift job. My gratitude towards KickStart could not be put into words. It was like seeing a light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. I have finally understood that this wasn’t a sudden stop. It was a short break for me to reflect on myself and my life. Now, I don’t see my career or the money I make as the most important things in my life. I learned that staying happy and healthy are far more important than anything else. I learned that being a charitable person brings unseen fortunes into my life. This is the reason why I am writing down this testimony. I want to share my experience with others who have also come across these obstacles in life. I want them to believe that as long as they have confidence in themselves; as long as they follow the treatment plan provided and work hard to complete their treatment, they will definitely see improvements. I’m still halfway on my journey to recovery, but I’m confident that the goal isn’t much further.