back                                                                                                                         Updated Aug 28, 2004

Post Shunt Update

Saturday eve. Joe here:

Val was wheeled away for surgery Friday morning at 11AM. The shunt surgery was finished about 1:20 and she was talking before she left the operating room. One of her girlfriends met her with flowers as she was wheeled out of the OR and accompanied her to her room. Two other of her friends showed up shortly thereafter.


As we all laughed enjoying her being loopy and trying to tell the nurses what to do, one of them said to me "I guess this is as close to being drunk as we ever get to see Val?"  I agreed, and said it was great being able to share that with her friends this time, since two years ago I had that aspect of her pretty much to myself, nor was it nearly so funny then. Being quite hyper on the Decadron (steroid for swelling), she chattered for about three hours before she wound down and wanted to sleep. Everyone left then, two for home and two of us for dinner and a later return to the hospital.


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She was held overnight for observation, which was just as well because she could not have managed at home anyway, and released at noon today. She was much more stable this morning, bored and fretting about the doctor not showing up earlier. After he said she was released, she was up and dressed before the nurse returned with the release papers and the wheelchair for the obligatory ride to the front door, though it would certainly have been a long walk for her.

She is experiencing some varied and transient effects of the reduced pressure as her brain re-sizes and relocates itself in her skull. There is some dizziness but very much less than before; she endured a few hours of an eye tic Friday, but that is gone today. Her eyesight is erratic and she finds it a little  difficult to read, but Friday she didn't even try. Her speech is slurred off and on and she is still having occasional seizures of throat, tongue and mouth on her left side, but that might be from direct pressure of the tumor on the brain stem and may not stop until the swelling goes down some months from now.


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Val joking with nurse Lynette


She says her head feels much better and doesn't "feel like it's in a pressure cooker all the time." She has much more mental clarity and is "not so foggy-brained." The shunt seems to have resolved the problem of urinary incontinence she has had for a couple of weeks. Her balance has mostly returned and she's able to walk erect and in a straight line.

Val is sore, especially at the insertion of the shunt tubing into her abdomen, and there is bruising from the side of her head down to her stomach where the long   needle was threaded to insert the tubing. But she has refused all pain meds and is in very good spirits.


So the shunt seems to have clearly improved her condition, and has elimated the worry of  "waking up dead" from hydrocephalus as the neurosurgeon so succintly put it.

Much to our surprise, the tubing does not show anywhere on its route; it can be felt with slight pressure although it is sore right now.  She will be able to start tapering off the Decadron in a week and is looking forward to losing her puffy cheeks and the end of the hyper mind state and insomnia, and the constipation caused by the drug.


She intends to have some fun with her "half-mohawk" she sports from the surgery by turning it into a full one! As the Queen Mother of a newly-formed chapter of the Red Hat Society, she intends to shave off the other side and dye her mohawk haircut red and purple for the chapter's participation in the County Fair parade this coming Wednesday.


For now,


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Val with my mom this evening