Two years ago today my youngest son was recovering from his second invasive brain surgery. This time, to place a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt into the right rear side behind his ear, to constantly drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricles in the brain where it is produced, into his abdominal cavity via a catheter tube running internally down his neck. This device, though far from perfect in its design, with something like a 50% fail rate in the first year or two after placement, is a life-saver for children with hydrocephalus. It stops the fluid, which has trouble draining naturally, from building to the point where it squashes the brain against the skull, leading to brain damage and eventually (if left untreated) death.
Way back then, when he was just three months old, we were amazed at how resilient he was and how he had bounced back from his first brain surgery like a champion, but there were so many unknowns about how much his conditions would impact him as he grew and developed.
You know that saying, ‘life is a roller coaster’? There’s no denying it’s true, but I’ve got to admit that nothing has caused it to feel more accurate than watching my baby son go through frequent medical ups and downs while I am powerless to stop it. Sure, life is never perfect, but compared to these last few months I feel like much of life has been more of a gradual trek up and down various hills and valleys rather than a white knuckle ride with danger around every corner. Those who have been tracking with my recent posts will have read about our family’s journey through my infant son’s initial diagnosis in the womb with a severe brain bleed and resulting hydrocephalus (extra fluid build up in the brain causing potentially dangerous pressure increases with many and varied possible outcomes, both short and long term) and our joyful relief tinged with some ongoing trepidation about the future when we were able to bring him home from the hospital, continuing to pray for healing as we sought to ‘ask boldly and surrender completely’. Now, two and a half months down the track, it’s time for an update.