We’re home! Mason came through surgery well and 24 hours later we were sent home. Yes, brain surgery on Thursday evening and home on Friday evening. It amazes me, as does the fact that his surgery is considered fairly routine. I am grateful for the prayers, they are felt and I know they help! For those who like details let me back up.
Wednesday I started to wonder if Mason was getting sick. He had no fever or major, he was just ‘off’ and not keeping his bottles down well and sleeping a lot. By evening his fontanel (soft spot) on the top of his head was getting firmer than usual. I went to bed planning to check it in the morning and if he was worse we would head to the hospital. Vomiting, sleepiness, and a bulging fontanel are symptoms we were told to watch for in case of shunt failure. The shunt is what drains the extra cerebrospinal fluid from Mason’s brain down to his abdomen to be absorbed.
At 1:25AM I woke up with a list of things on my mind that I needed to pack for the hospital. Mason woke up two minutes later and sure enough, his fontanel was obviously bulging. I woke my husband, called the neurosurgeon on call at the hospital to see what they wanted us to do, and tried to feed Mason, who spit it up again. The neuro resident said to bring him in to the ER to check things out. We packed a few things for him and for me, already expecting we would be staying overnight. In the emergency room Mason was examined by the neuro resident. He looked relatively fine but we were sent to have a few scans. The brain ultrasound was first to measure the fluid in his ventricles. This one uses a gel that gives Mason awesome hairdos like the one above.
Next was an x-ray series of head, chest, and abdomen to make sure the shunt had not moved out of place or come apart. Mason’s shunt has 3 parts: a valve that lets fluid through when it’s pressure limit is reached, a tube from the valve up into his brain, and a tube on the other end of the valve that goes down his neck and chest into his abdomen as the drain. Mason’s was still in place and together.According to ultrasound Mason’s ventricles were looking a bit bigger than usual but not enough that they thought his shunt was failing. However, because of his outward symptoms he was admitted. He got a cage for a bed, and IV, and a cool new room. He was also no longer allowed to eat, in case surgery was in his near future. Grandma came to the house to watch the other kids and Daddy came to join Mommy and Mason at the hospital. Mason was evaluated by the neurosurgeon and we were given the option to watch him for 24 hours or to go ahead with the surgery that evening to see if there was a blockage in the shunt. We chose surgery, we knew that despite normal scans this was not normal for our son. Mason spent the rest of the day cranky and in our arms, wanting fed and wanting to feel better. That evening we headed down to pre-op. It’s not a comforting place to be. You have to sign papers about the risks of anesthesia and brain surgery. Lovely things like not waking up, inability to breath on his own, bleeding out, and death. Still, a shunt revision is considered routine. It happens frequently and most of the medical staff were surprised Mason’s first shunt had lasted 6.5 months. (They tend to have more problems the younger you are, from mechanical failure to clogging the tubing, which has to be tiny the younger you are.) Then we walked right to the operating room doors carrying Mason. We took one last picture before we had to hand our son to a nurse and walk away. It is hard to do. Hard to wait in another room to hear how your child is doing.
Dr. G came to us as soon as surgery was finished. We were right, the shunt was completely clogged in the upper tube that goes into the brain. He was able to replace it easily and Mason did great during surgery. We would see him back in his room after he finished his post-op recovery with anesthesia.He was asleep again when they brought him to us. Sweet, brave boy. His incision was closed with stitches under the skin and then the top layer was glued shut. After a while he woke up and stayed awake for a bit. We were able to feed him when he was ready and he kept it down like a champ. After a few more snuggles Daddy headed home to be with the other six kids. Mason and I had a long night with lots of interruptions until I put my foot down and told them to stay out of his room for a few hours to let him sleep. They had him hooked up to monitors and could check on him through the computer. We got a few hours sleep before 6AM this morning.
Around 6:30AM the neurosurgery team came in for a checkup. The resident who admitted us from the ER was in the group with a younger student. It was really interesting to hear him explain the case and how Mason presented with no evidence of shunt problems by their tests, but that Mom was sure there was something wrong with the shunt. He then told the student to ALWAYS listen to a mom if she says that something is wrong with their child, moms are almost always right. He explained the results of surgery confirmed a completely clogged shunt and reiterated that mom is always right. That is one reason I love this hospital, they take the parent’s observation and feelings about the child’s situation seriously!Mason was obviously feeling better today. He was playing with toys, smiling again, and eating with gusto. He fell in love with his new ducky the hospital gave him and loves to wrestle it. The thing is super soft and does this awful song and wing flapping that he loves. Sigh. I think I could almost do the song myself by now, I’ve heard it so much today.
I’m grateful for God’s mercy that allows prayer to lift and bless, for skilled doctors and staff who help bodies that don’t work normally to compensate with things like a shunt, and for another day with Mason. I don’t know why Mason’s life has so many challenges that seem so big. I had lots of time to read and pray and ponder while in the hospital. Once again I realized that Mason’s body was created by God for a purpose. Mason influenced each person who came near him in the hospital, they felt his spirit and came away uplifted by his smiles.
Thank you for joining us in prayer for Mason’s health and recovery. I know prayer is powerful.