Monday, 11 June 2018

Can you prove you have a brain?

Can you prove you have a brain? I can! Take a look at this. It's an MRI (one of MANY!!) of my brain. Clever bastards reading this will be able to spot my 1/2 ventricles, 3rd ventricle and 4th ventricle. Look really close you'll also see a Pineal Cyst right at the back of my 3rd ventricle.

According to my brain guy (he's my 3rd on this journey) my enlarged ventricles are suffering from something called Obstructive Hydrocephalus most likely cause by the Pineal Cyst. And whilst the ventricles are not "impressive" (thanks, Doc) my other symptoms were causing alarm. Alzheimer's like memory issues, incontinence, difficulty descending stairs, wide gait etc, etc, etc. So it was decided that we should "fix" the issue. The Ventricles are full of spinal fluid and because the fluid cannot drain as normal its like inflating a water balloon in my head.

I was scheduled for a procedure to install a VentriculoPeritoneal Shunt. Basically its a McDonald's straw connected to a valve that then dumps out into your stomach. After almost 9 months of chasing this issue down and a few wrong diagnosis and even being thrown out of a brain surgeon's office (thanks, Penn Med!!!), being told another surgeon did not have the tools for the job I ended up at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. These guys know what they are doing!!!

The night before surgery I had to shave my head.
Surgery day was June 1st 2018. As I write this I am 10 days post surgery. I'm still very sore but getting 500% stronger every day.

Erin and I share a laugh in the pre-op waiting room. My head is shaved but yet still I have to wear that ridiculous hat. 
So in a nutshell they put a hole in my skull. Into the hole they inserted a tube which was pushed through my brain into the right side Ventricle. This will allow the buildup of fluid to drain safely and thus deflate the balloon effect.

This is the hole they put in my head. You can clearly see the tube exiting under my skin to the right.

Here we can see the valve placed under my skin on the side of my skull. There's another tube that goes behind my ear, down my neck, across my collar bone and eventually to my abdomen in a single feed. That's the output with the waste spinal fluid.

Finally, the tube arrives in my abdomen where they cut me open, grab the end and secure it behind my muscle wall. Of all the wounds I got this is the one that hurts the most!!!

The tube from my ear to my abdomen is one complete section. The surgeon basically stabbed me from my ear to my stomach in one go. He used a sharp long steel tube with a wooden handle on the end and rammed it under my skin. I can actually feel the hose!

So that's pretty much it. I'll have to go for annual checkups on it and even though mine is an "MRI Safe" model I will still need x-rays taken before and after I get another ride through the MRI scanner. This would be so they can tell if the valve settings have changed. I'm good for up to 3 Tesla's - whatever they are? It also has a service life of about 5-7 years so I'll be back in there fairly shortly. Although, I'm told a replacement is not as bad as an initial installation. I'll let you know.


  1. Do you also have any JumboSpots? Any flaws compared to the ZumSpots. I have both and find no difference on the D-STAR side of things.

    1. Yes, I have a handful of JumboSpots too. Nope. No difference in operation as far as I can tell.