Thursday, March 10, 2011

Progress and Setbacks (VP Shunt Surgery)

A lot of what happened in the NICU is a little fuzzy.  It was by far the most emotional time of mine and my husband's lives.  It felt like we were living a nightmare that we couldn't wake up from.  How could our beautiful baby be going through all this?  There is no way to explain to someone who hasn't gone through a similar experience what it's like.  For a while everyday was filled with more bad news and set backs.  Days turned into weeks in the NICU.  After what seemed like forever things started to look more hopeful.  Asher was eventually able to drink breast milk through a bottle but still struggled to eat a good amount in an appropriate amount of time.  I made it a point to be at the NICU as much as possible.  I would get there early in the morning and stay as late as possible.  I wanted to be there for every feeding and near the end of the his stay I roomed in so I could even do all his night feedings as well.  The nurses did a great job but they had several babies to care for and I could devote all my time to Asher.  I pushed for a longer period to try and feed him with the bottle and he made a lot of progress.  We were trying to avoid needing a g-tube and luckily we were able to. 

One thing we couldn't avoid was Asher needing a vp shunt.  The blood in his brain couldn't drain and after several unsuccessful lumbar punctures, not only in an attempt to drain some fluid but also to check for infections, it was decided he would  need the surgery.  He had hydrocephalus due to the fluid trapped in his head and we did not want his brain to swell and cause more damage.   At around 4 1/2 wks old Asher had the surgery.  The surgery involves making an incision behind the ear and one in the belly.  A small hole is drilled in the skull and a thin tube is put into a ventricle in the brain.  Another tube is placed under the skin behind the ear and goes down the side of the neck, down the chest and into the abdomen cavity where the fluid empties and is absorbed by the body.  In Asher's case the shunt was put on the right side on his head and the doctor put enough coiled extra tubing to grow as he grows. It was a scary experience and we had no idea what to expect.  We had no idea what the shunt would look like and it was so hard to see our sweet baby with a large lump on his head and incision marks in two spots on his little body.  We were told to look out for signs of both shunt infection and malfunction.  Both include fever, vomiting, lethargy, and possible banging of the head. 

Luckily Asher's issues with his glucose resolved on its own as did his clotting issues.  The doctors never figured out what was the cause of those problems.  Three days after the surgery Asher was released from the hospital with a little help from a very persistent mom.  After five long weeks of being in the NICU I was ready to bring my baby home and give him the loving nurturing environment he needed and deserved.

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