Interim city manager Robert Spinks announced at the Monday night city council meeting that he must have major surgery to remove a noncancerous growth on the auditory nerve leading from his left ear to his brain.
"This came to my attention in the past week and a half," Spinks said Monday night. "It's not the gift I was expecting for my 50th birthday."
"I figure I would have had a heart attack before something in my head, but I'll get through it," he said.
Spinks is scheduled for a surgical consultation Nov. 17 with Dr. Douglas Backous at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Backous is an ear, nose and throat doctor who works in a sub-specialty dedicated to disorders of the ear and certain areas of the central nervous system.
Hospitalization could last up to seven days followed by an unspecified recuperation time at home.
Spinks made the announcement by having city attorney Craig Ritchie read a prepared statement at Monday's city council meeting.
He was having Ritchie do it because he was unable to finish reading the statement to city staff earlier in the day, Spinks said.
The diagnosis of an "acoustic neuroma" was made while Spinks was being treated by Dr. Robert Craven of Port Angeles for allergy and sinus problems.
It is a noncancerous growth that originates in the cells that wrap around the eighth cranial nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. The nerve is responsible for transmitting
sound and balance information to the brain.
"This type of growth is a very, very slow-growing condition, usually taking years before they become large enough to cause symptoms.
"Dr. Craven told me that he has had a half-dozen patients diagnosed with similar growths in Clallam County," Spinks' statement read.
Spinks said later he has suffered some high-range hearing loss as a result of the tumor.
The growth is removed by microsurgery to avoid damaging the facial nerve, which is a preferable alternative to other treatments that include radiation, according to Spinks' statement.
According to the Acoustic Neuroma Association's Web site, the condition can become life-threatening if the tumor grows large enough to begin pushing against the brain's surface.
"I am not required to share any information regarding my medical status with the public but feel given the outstanding support I have received from this community that I wanted to be frank and upfront during this challenge," Spinks said in his statement.
Spinks also has consulted with the police department's psychologist Dr. Monica Pilarc.
"Dr. Pilarc as well as my medical providers see no impact to my ability to fully function in my job as chief of police or as interim city manager.
"Certainly anyone might wonder if there is any physical or mental impairment with this type of medical condition and I was pretty happy to learn that I have no signs of that and do not meet any criteria to suggest that that will be an issue."
"The reason I'm making this public today is to eliminate any alarm anyone may have, and to ensure that a professional plan for dealing with our open positions of city manager and public works director are dealt with in an expeditious and professional manner by our city council."
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