Monday, March 21, 2011
Be Who You Are
David was born with a beautiful head of curly hair, which his fabulous neurosurgeon shaved when he placed the shunt to manage his hydrocephalus. The shunt left a nasty scar on the top of his head, and you could see the tube running through his head and down his neck.
David has hydrocephalus, a condition in which excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) builds up within the ventricles (fluid-containing cavities) of the brain and may increase pressure within the head. Although hydrocephalus is often described as "water on the brain," the "water" is actually CSF, a clear fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. CSF has three crucial functions: 1) it acts as a "shock absorber" for the brain and spinal cord; 2) it acts as a vehicle for delivering nutrients to the brain and removing waste; and 3) it flows between the cranium and spine to regulate changes in pressure within the brain.
When the neurosurgeon informed us of the likelihood of shunt failure and multiple shunt surgeries, we decided that we would let his hair grow between surgeries and let Dr. Malkasian cut it when he did the surgeries. Based on the information we gathered about shunt failure, we never expected it to grow so long.
As luck would have it, by the time David needed to have his tube replaced, advances in medicine were such that the doctors only needed to shave parts of his hair. Good thing too. Combing his hair usually results in me threatening to cut his hair, but he really loves his hair.
Funny thing is, he doesn't think he has a shunt. He doesn't believe us when we tell him about his brain surgeries or injuries. He doesn't believe us when we tell him that his hair is a cushion. He just thinks he is cool. That is who he is.
We got really lucky with this. I was wise enough to reject the first doctor they brought in to do the shunt surgery (excellent w/ adults, no experience w/ preemies) but that alone doesn't account for the shunt not failing. We were lucky. We still count it as a win. Why look a gift horse in the mouth?