Tuesday, September 30, 2014

3 Years Ago...

3 years ago Little Man underwent a shunt revision. He'd been having vomiting episodes for almost a year, and every time I took him to the doctor or the E.R. I was assured everything was 'normal'. He was exposed to germs in daycare and Ex's house wasn't the cleanest of places (a story for another day), so his vomiting was chalked up to those things and called a day.

Eventually Hubs and I ended up making a 2 hour trip to the only emergency room qualified to give Little Man an MRI or CT because of his shunt. Even after I brought my listless and exhausted three year old in to this major hospital E.R., they couldn't find anything wrong him. They tapped it (took some cerebral spinal fluid from inside the shunt) and his pressure seemed normal. But as the medical resident was tapping the shunt, some spinal fluid leaked and he seemed to be having a tough time with the procedure. We didn't know it then, but he hadn't gotten an accurate result.
He was sleeping most of the time, a symptom of shunt failure but also a symptom of every other illness ever.

So after a three day hospital stay, the head of the pediatric neurology team came and performed the tap again herself. They'd been hesitant to tap again so soon because every tap can introduce germs into the shunt and that's a place you don't particularly want germs. Also because of other medical junk I cannot remember 3 years out. But anyhow, the neurologist found out that the shunt was partially clogged and not working, so they scheduled a brain surgery for that afternoon. The surgery was quick, "an easy brain surgery" (according to the surgeon, not me), and after another overnight he was able to leave the next day.

Wicked headache and bad haircut, but a total trooper.

Needless to say, I felt terrible that it took nearly a year of doctor visits and nightly vomiting episodes to figure out that he was having a shunt malfunction.  Unfortunately, the symptoms of a shunt malfunction are:
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling more sleepy than normal
  • Headache
Do you recognize any of these symptoms? Surprise! A shunt malfunction looks like any other three year old's regular old stomach bug. And with Little Man having had only partial blockage in his shunt, his symptoms were coming and going without a pattern of any kind. Not to mention that he could never tell me if he had a headache or not, and at that time in his life he wasn't refusing to eat the way he does now. With so few symptoms, it took a long time to come to the decision to perform brain surgery on him again, which I suppose is both good and bad.

So what makes me bring this up now? Well, Little Man is going through a new fun stage where he likes to see how far he can get his fingers back in his mouth to touch his tongue and his teeth. A couple times, he's made himself gag nearly to the point of vomiting. (YUM!)

Last week I came into his room to get him ready for school and he'd vomited during the night. He was otherwise absolutely fine, and raced downstairs for breakfast before I could say, "hey dude are you okay?"  I decided to chalk it up to the new gagging thing, and after cleaning it up I thought very little about it.

Then yesterday morning I walked in and Little Man was just waking up. He immediately started gagging and threw up two or three times before crawling back in to bed exhausted and sleeping for another two and half hours. Since I watched this one and know it wasn't self-induced, I was pretty panicked. He woke up around 10:30 in a terrific mood and bounced all over the house... and while that might seem like great news, it actually puts a lot more fear into this situation for me and Hubs.

So this is why I worry every time my kid is sick. This is why every stomach bug or sniffle has me on high alert... because we're hoping this isn't the start of another long process. We're hoping this is something normal and kindergarten related. Cross your fingers for us.

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