CSF Leak

Abi’s doctors thought it likely that, as a result of the tumour, she would develop hydrocephalus, known more commonly as ‘water on the brain’. That would mean she would be unable to drain CSF naturally. “So that’s what that elderly lady in the waiting room of the MRI unit was talking about,” I thought, as the doctors told me how they typically treat hydrocephalus using a shunt, a device that is surgically inserted into the skull and does the draining mechanically.

Neither Sarah or I were keen on having a mechanical device inserted into the head of our beautiful daughter. I remember thinking at the time that it would turn her into some sort of freak of nature. Kind of like Frankenstein. Even though I was not Christian, every day I would go down to the chapel on the first floor of the hospital and pray that Abi would be able to live life without a shunt. Much to my relief, it appeared that the universe answered my prayers because Abi’s doctors eventually agreed that she could do without it and she was discharged without having a shunt fitted.

Unfortunately, the day after we got Abi home, moisture appeared on the scar at the site of the operation. Worried, I took her back to the local hospital, and tests proved that the fluid was CSF. It was a sign that Abi needed a shunt. So she was readmitted to the hospital that had operated on her. We had only been home for twelve hours.

Since it was not quite an emergency, Abi was not transferred by ambulance, and instead, I had to drive her back to the hospital. But just as we were leaving the car park, we were held up by a man who seemed intent on walking down the middle of the road. I’m not sure what point he was trying to make, but whatever it was, by then it was mid-afternoon and rush hour was fast approaching. I needed to get my beautiful daughter back into care: “Mate, I need to get my daughter to another hospital as quickly as possible. If you don’t move out of the way, I am going to knock you out of the way,” I said, aggressively. I meant every word. As this man was no shrinking violet and neither was I, for a moment, things looked as though they could get nasty. Thankfully, the man’s partner was with him and she prevented the situation escalating by persuading the man to step aside. As soon as she did, and without giving the man a second thought, I jumped back into the car and, just as fast as traffic would allow, I rushed Abi back into the hospital.

Unfortunately, this episode meant that Abi needed refitting with an EVD. We then had to sit and wait another ten days while any signs of infection disappeared from samples of her CSF. The doctors then fitted Abi with the necessary shunt and about a fortnight later, in mid-September, 2009, she was finally discharged.

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