My Story


Hi, My name is Matt Crigger, I'm 32 years old and I currently live in Las Vegas, NV. I was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma November 2012. With the help of a friend we named it Gumby. My AN journey began summer 2012 when the left side of my face became numb. The best way to describe the feeling was leaving the dentist after a cavity fill. I let the feeling go a couple weeks without seeking medical attention. During this time I had been noticing slight ringing of the ear, vertigo, balance issues, a metallic taste and extreme exhaustion. When the numbness wasn't getting any better I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Micheal P. Horan, MD. After a quick evaluation, Horan advised me to get an MRI. Long story short the day before my MRI it was cancelled due to some insurance issues. I had to seek out a new primary care physician and neurologist. I scheduled an appoint with Dr. Bess I. Chang. I was advised by Chang to get an EEG and MRI. Late October I had both an MRI and EEG. Knowing something was clearly wrong I went to Cancun, Mexico for a wedding while trying to remain positive. I returned from Mexico extremely nervous and anxious to find out what was wrong. I met with Chang on a Wednesday morning mid November to receive  my results. As she hung the films in the window I stood up from my chair in disbelief. I noticed immediately a foreign mass attached to my brain. "WHAT IS THAT?" Chang informed me its a tumor. First thing that came to my mind was that I lost my grandfather to a tumor when I was about 7 years old. Secondly, the famous line in the movie Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger came out of my mouth, "it's not a tumor." So many emotions began racing through me. I need to tell my family..... Chang then referred me to see Neurologist  Dr. John Anson downstairs for a consultation. I grabbed my films and stormed out of the office an emotional wreck. I wasn't able to get an immediate appointment with Anson. Unfortunately I had to wait a whole week for my first consultation. I walked to my truck in shock sat down and started to dial my family. I had to let my dad tell my mom because I could barely hold it together. I know my dad could find the words to tell mom what was going on a lot better than I could. Immediately my parents who were currently RVing in AZ wanted to drive to Vegas to be with me. As much as I appreciated the gesture I wouldn't be able to cry with them for a whole week before my consultation the following week. I explained the week would be easier if I kept busy and tried to keep my mind off of it. They understood and respected my decision. That evening I went bowling and afterwards met a dear friend at the Cosmopolitan. That whole week was miserable filled with many emotions and sleepless nights. It went by so slow. I continued bowling, hitting the gym, rode my motorcycles, went to work, tried not to talk about it. My parents met me in Vegas the following week for my first consultation with Anson. We all met Anson, mom waited in the waiting room. Anson diagnosed it as an Acoustic Neuroma and said they are typically a foreign mass attached to the hearing, balance and facial nerve typically non cancerous. All my symptoms were normal however he said usually I'd be deaf in my ear by now rather than the facial numbness. Anson recommended Retro-Sigmoid Crainotomy which is a surgery procedure in an attempt to preserve the hearing. I asked him how urgent it was to have it removed and if he had an Acoustic Neuroma who he'd want to operate. I was informed to do my research it wasn't urgent and he referred me to Dr. Spetzler in AZ. or Dr. Gianotta in California. Since my parents were located in AZ. we decided to seek a consultation from Spetzler which we immediately scheduled for December 17th. My family and  I met with Spetzler that Monday morning in Phoenix. Spetzler was very punctual and didn't sugar coat anything. He explained to us that he would try to preserve the hearing, I'd have temporary facial paralysis and difficulty with my balance for a few days. I wasn't satisfied yet and still needed another 1 or 2 consultations. My mom really liked Spetzeler ultimately I believe it was because of his location. At the end of the day she would support my decision. For my third consultation I took my sister with me to another local surgeon in Las Vegas, Dr. Douds. Great guy just in my opinion too young an inexperienced. Douds hadn't really told me anything I hadn't already heard but still I felt I needed one more consultation. For my 4th and final consultation I scheduled it with Dr. Steven L. Giannotta at USC in LA, California. Dad and I made the 4 hour commute to LA form Vegas to this consultation with Giannotta in January. When Giannotta's PA greeted us and began to tell us Giannotta had removed an AN from her about 23 years ago is when I began to feel as if this was going to be my doctor. Giannotta entered shortly after answered all my questions and told me he has preformed over 500 AN removals. I scheduled my surgery with Giannotta for February 8th, 2013.  During all my down time and in between all the appointments and consultations I focused on positives which included family, friends, exercise and health. I continued my strict diet, ran a tough mudder, exercised daily, bowled, spent time with my nephew, rode my motorcycles, and went snowboarding. I tried not to discuss my condition often but rather live life to the fullest.