Hell in the Head by David Douglas Shannon

Shortly after my surgery I was fortunate to find a second online support group. This one was for acoustic neuroma patients, but thanks to one of life’s little ironies there is actually a higher risk for facial paralysis during surgery on the eighth cranial (acoustic) nerve than on the seventh (facial). This forum had a section dedicated to post-surgical facial effects, and they were kind enough to let me join their group.

One of my newfound internet friends, “LADavid,” was an aspiring actor and author. You may have seen him in Reba, NCIS, Alias or Brothers & Sisters. If you saw Transformers, you surely noticed his red-stockinged feet as he asked a stewardess to round him up some Ding Dongs. He was a stand-in for the 2007 movies Slipstream and The Bucket List. That October he appeared in a TV Guide print ad for Cave Man. Then, in early December, David Shannon was blindsided by a triple whammy following acoustic neuroma surgery: hearing loss, facial palsy and impaired balance.

David’s combination of complications cut his acting career short, but he refocused his creative energy into writing. This summer, David’s memoir was published. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes humorous and always honest, Hell in the Head: My War with a Brain Tumor and Other Evil Things is a frank look at how, with the help of God, family and friends, the human spirit adapts to the unexpected.

In addition to his personal story, David has gathered a wealth of background information related to acoustic neuromas, treatment options and potential complications – information that he did not have going into his surgery. Hell in the Head is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble,

David’s next venture is a mystery suspense novel. He is also interested in developing screenplays.

I had the good fortune to meet David last New Year’s Eve during a layover at LAX on the way home from visiting Hanna in Vietnam. The flight had been turbulent (a story for another time) and Phil and I were both feeling the effects. Unfortunately I was not up to the long conversation about our writing careers that I had eagerly anticipated, but David was a godsend: kind, considerate and helpful in getting us to our next flight.

I’m not sure how to calculate David’s odds. The incidence of acoustic neuroma is roughly twice that of HFS, but he scored the triple threat of complications. Let’s just say he is definitely a member of the One in a Million Club.