About 3 weeks ago Alvin underwent an MRI and EEG to see if they could determine what if anything was causing his seizures. The procedure went well overall and we were told to just follow up with the neurologist at our scheduled appointment.
So on Wednesday we met with the neurologist. The EEG showed nothing much, but the MRI showed something that as he said was concerning, but not too bad. It showed that his left, right and 4 ventricles in his brain were enlarged and that he had a cyst in his brain. We were told that we would need to followup with the neurosurgon and it would probably take about 3 weeks. He wasn't overlly concerned so we didn't worry. I called the same day and they said they would be contacting me the next day to get his appointment scheduled. We in turn told all of our family what we knew, but not to worry.
On Thursday I was schedule for a leadership training class. I knew to expect a phone call but wasn't overally concerned. The call I got at about 9:30 though was not what I expected. The nurse I spoke to said they wanted to see him much sooner than later. She then told me the MRI scans showed hydrocephalus. Now I'm in shock. I wasn't too terribly sure what it was, other than water on the brain, but I knew it wasn't good. The nurse told us that the enlarged ventricles he had were hydrocephalus.
Quick note, if you haven't heard of it here is the definition from Seattle Children's Hospital Neurosurgery page:
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in parts of the brain.Hydrocephalus literally means water (hydro) in the head (cephalus). It is sometimes called water on the brain. The "water" is actually cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is normally present in areas both inside and outside the brain. Common causes of CSF blockage, which causes hydrocephalus Children with hydrocephalus have too much cerebrospinal fluid in the areas of the brain called ventricles. The ventricles store and circulate cerebrospinal fluid. Children with hydrocephalus may also have extra fluid in spaces between the brain and the skull called the subarachnoid spaces. When a child’s cerebrospinal fluid cannot flow or be reabsorbed properly, it builds up. This makes the ventricles bigger and puts pressure on the tissues of the brain."
So once I hear the hydrocephalus issue we start getting more information. The surgeon wants to meet with us at 8:30 the next morning to go over our options and possibly do surgery the same day. Alvin's case I am told is more urgent than originally thought. The nurse also said she wanted to get him an eye exam as well to be sure that he was indeed seeing ok and that his optic nerves were not being compressed.
So with that the chaos starts. I manage to get through the rest of my training class all the while texting and calling family members with updates on what is going on. At this point we have no idea what will happen the next day other than he might have emergency surgery.
At 8:30 we arrived at Seattle Children's Hospital today and began a whirwind of activity. We met with the neurosurgon and were told that his was a moderatly bad condition with the hydrocephalus and that the cyst was inoperable. The cyst itself is in a bad place and they can't reach it without doing more damage. They hyrocephalus though could have something done to correct it. We had two options. They could put in a shunt that would reroute spinal fluid from his brain to his belly thus elliviating the pressure. The second option that he was a conditate for that not all kids are was called an ETV or Endoscopic third ventriculostomy. In this procedure they literally use a tiny camera inserted in his brain to guide an instrument to make an extra hole in his brain so that fluid can drain out on its own.
We were given the choice and went with the ETV since it meant no permanent hardware would be left inside him. Then the surgeon left to go start scheduling things and we were sent for an eye exam. About an hour and a half later we were back signing the papers for him to have the surgery and getting him ready.
Below is a video of the procedure itself.
Will went back to the operating room as they put him to sleep and then we all headed to grab some lunch. Luckily a good friend of ours drove 2 hours to stay with us and keep Elliot entertained. Seriously having Chirstall there with all of her experince in that hospital was so nice. We laughed about it all and Elliot of course had fun attempting to charm her! As we finished lunch we got a page to head back down to the ICU. To our suprise after only about an hour the surgery was done and things went great. His pressure inside his head was 17 and normal is nothing more than 15. He now had an extra hole in his head and fluid was starting to drain away and the pressure was also expected to go down.
He had a CT scan and then went to recovery where he started to wake up and ask for me. The staff immediately brought me back and he was doing good just a little nauseated. Soon after they got him up to the Neuro ICU for monitoring and he started to ask to play on the tablet but still sick. He will hopefully be moved out of ICU to a regular room tomorrow and go home late tomorrow or Sunday.
Now at about 9:30 he is resting comfortablly. The last 72 hours or so have been crazy for all of us. I can say the best thing that came out of this was how fast the doctors and staff here reacted. The nurses I saw in neuro recovery and ICU are shocked that the hydrocephalus wasn't caught earlier but since autism signs like speach delay and motor skills problems are also common to hydrocephalus the only real clue without the MRI was his head shape.
I fear that if we had been back in AL this wouldn't have been caught. Once we got here and pushed for a re-evaluation of his condition everything was discovered and we dodged a major bullet. We were able to find things we never knew were there and had honestly more than likely been there since birth. Alvin's chances of recovery are very good right now. We don't expect his autism symptoms to go away completely but there is a chance that the surgery has lessed the pressure on parts of his brain that control things like speech and fine motor skills and those areas could see more improvement.
To all of those who have sent us well wishes thank you so much. I'm sorry we haven't gotten back to every single one but we have seen them and we appreciate it. We are very grateful at the out pouring of support and hopefully here soon I'll get more pictures up