Abby's Journey

We'd like to invite you to read Abby's Journey from the beginning. We hope that her story may help a family who is facing the same battle with DIPG. We are praying for a cure and are praying for every child who is diagnosed with cancer.

This is Abby's story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hydrocephalus and Brain Shunts...

(Note... I'll add pictures later.)

We have been so excited for the arrival of Uncle Bobby and Auntie Colista and our cousins! They arrived to St Louis on Sunday, and Abby was sitting in Grandpa's recliner when they pulled up. She heard them pull up in front of Grandma and Grandpa's house and jumped out of the chair!! I'm glad I was close, or else she would have went splat! I was able to grab her and helped her outside to welcome her cousins! She was so excited to see her cousins, and aunt and uncle!!

Their joyful arrival was sidelined by the return of Abby's headaches and early morning vomiting. We were unsure if it was just a bug or if it was a sign of her tumor. They have told us that the tumor will, as it swells, cause severe headaches, sleepiness, nausea, and irritability. We have noticed Abby getting all of these symptoms. Sunday and Monday, Abby woke up with major headaches, and would throw up. So Monday, Maegan called up to the hospital and told them what was happening, and they had us bring her in for a cat scan. So, while our family went to the zoo and entertained the kids, we went and got a scan in and then waited for the results.

We then got up to the 9th floor and met with Abby's doctors for a little, and they had us go down to the 4th floor and meet with Dr. Limbrick, Abby's neurosurgeon. They did tell us that there was a lot of fluid backed up on Abby's brain, and that the ventricles were congested, not allowing the spinal fluid to flow, which builds up the pressure on her brain. This causes her headaches and vomiting. The technical term hydrocephalus. (I don't know if this is the correct spelling, but it was my best effort!) So they met with us and discussed the options of either putting in a shunt to relieve the pressure and move the fluid through the shunt into her stomach cavity. But since she still gives us glimpses of Abby, and isn't just sleeping ALL the time, we agreed with the doctors that the shunt is worth it for Abby. The other option was to do nothing and just let the fluid build up which would cause her to sleep more, and then when the tumor hits the breathing control of the brain, she would fall asleep and just stop breathing. That was not an option for us!! We know that as the tumor grows, that she will just fall asleep and stop breathing, but we want to enjoy every second that we have with our Abby!! We know that everyday is a gift, and we want to enjoy them to the fullest! We feel that this option will let us enjoy her, and more importantly, that she can enjoy the time that she has left.

So this morning, Maegan, Aunt Colista and I brought Abby up to the hospital to have her surgery. Grandma Mary and Aunt Amber met us up here, and we took Abby in for her surgery. It was hardest on Aunt Colista today, just because she has not seen Abby like this before. I hate to say it, but we have seen and been through this before so we knew what to expect. I know our first time was very rough as well, and I think Aunt Colista held up very well.

They had to shave a section of Abby's hair, on the right side from the temple area all the way around to the neck behind her ear. They left a patch above her ear that we may have to cut, but we'll have to see what Abby wants to do first. So they put the shunt in, and when her hair grows back in, you won't be able to see it at all. It goes from the front of her head into one of the ventricles in her brain to allow the fluid to drain from her brain to her stomach cavity where it will be absorbed by her body. There is a valve on her head that keeps the fluid moving out and not back in.

After her surgery, she was very groggy and not in the best of moods. As time passes, Maegan and I can see progress! Her eyes are clearer and focused and Abby hasn't complained of any headaches! Dr Limbrick came in and said that there was a lot of pressure built up when he put the shunt in, and we should be seeing positive results almost immediately, and we have been!

We will be in the hospital, room 12East12B, and hopefully we will get to go home tomorrow afternoon, or at the latest Thursday. We are hoping for tomorrow so we can hang out with our cousins more before they have to leave!

Abby is doing good and it is good to see her personality and silliness returning! Everyday is a miracle and we definitely thank God for everyday he blesses us with her, and all of our girls!! Even through this entire ordeal, we are extremely blessed!!

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2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.