Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.


on October 8, 2013

Agnes had her shunt placement surgery this morning and everything went well. The neurosurgeon said there were no problems with her surgery, and the procedure took exactly as much time as they told us it would when we got briefed in pre-op.

Yesterday when a pre-op nurse called with some instructions, I told her that Agnes had come down with a wet cough and needed more frequent suctioning. The nurse told me to take Agnes to the pediatrician because surgery was a no-go if she has an infection. So I did and it was not fun taking Agnes and Stephen to the doctor’s office by myself, but we did it. It was good that I went because the doctor gave Agnes a green light for surgery, provided she did not become any sicker overnight. She didn’t and we went to the hospital.

After the surgery went ahead, I felt pretty relaxed. The neurosurgeon’s confident remarks about how “easy” a shunt placement is encouraged me.

Agnes went up to the same hospital floor she was on before, so we recognized a bunch of the nurses. They all remembered Agnes from before. Agnes has been rather touchy all day, crying off and on and having borderline O2 sats. This is partly because her pulse-oximeter probe keeps lying about Agnes’ numbers, but this is usual behavior for a pulse-oximeter probe. The lying sons-of-guns. Agnes tolerated pedialyte and half-strength feeds over the afternoon, but when the nurse started full-strength feeds, Agnes started puking a lot.

Apparently this is not unexpected. Since Agnes has been used to high pressure in her head, now that the shunt is draining out the fluid and the pressure is normalizing, she is suffering “low pressure headaches.” She needs to get used to the new pressure levels in her head, which will take a couple days. In the meantime she will get half-strength feeds and anti-nausea meds. Of course it doesn’t help that she has to lay absolutely flat for the first 24 hours after surgery so the shunt doesn’t drain too much too quickly. Agnes suffers from reflux and we always keep the head of her bed elevated, so she is not used to being flat. I’m sure that bugs her too, in addition to all the pokes and wires and tubes she acquired for her stay.

I’m hopeful that she will start to improve tomorrow.

Oh, and the sutures on her head are really ugly! I know they are fresh, but holy cow. A huge 3-D black line of ick with metal staples that look just like the kind you buy at the office supply store. There is a suture in her abdomen too from where they went in to poke the shunt end into her belly. On the plus side, the line of catheter under her skin is hardly noticeable. I can’t even see it, or feel it when I lightly touch. The scars will heal up, and once Agnes gets hair on that side of her head, you will hardly be able to tell she has a shunt.

I expect her to stay in the hospital for a couple nights. Here’s hoping this doesn’t turn into another long visit!


2 responses to “SHUNT–Update

  1. JeneaSwainston says:

    Oh wow! I’ve been on pins and needles all day wondering how it all went. Thank you so much for filling us in! Continued prayers for recovery and strength for you and Jeremy to cope!

  2. Amy Seymour says:

    I’m glad the surgery went well. She’s been through sooooo much in her short little life, but it sounds as though she’s been a real trooper — and you, too, Judy! Prayers for all of you!

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