When I hear the word smothered, I tend to think of food – smothered onions, smothered pork, or smothered chicken and not brains. When Hydrocephalus is present, the ventricles enlarge squishing the brains in your head. For infants the skull is still soft and allows for the expansion, but for adults there is no leeway so your brains not only get squished, but also smothered.
When I was diagnosed a month ago, I was relieved to find an a word to describe what was happening to me. I was also filled with compassion as I thought that I could related to people with brain injuries. Duh – what a pretentious ass I was to think that. When your brain cells get smothered, they die so Hydrocephalus is considered a brain injury. When Hydrocephalus is treated early, there can be minimal long term effects on your brain. However being a weird ass syndrome; it can be a crap shoot where one person may have physical or cognitive limitations and the next person is completely fine. The brain is a strange creature and still a mystery to many.
It get’s even more interesting when symptoms gradually appear over a long time because no one really knows what to expect after the surgery. I have congenital hydrocephalus where I was born the pre-disposition for aqueductal stenosis where the pathway did not develop/developed improperly or narrowed over time of the flow of CSF between the third and fourth ventricles. This is called non-communicating or obstructive hydrocephalus where the lateral and third ventricles are considerable larger and the fourth ventricle is normal. My body supposedly adapted to having a slow CSF absorption until December where my body decided enough was enough and now demands that I have help with CSF draining and absorption. However, I did have a year 2003 & 2004 where my right side went numb and dizziness. I was sent from Manning, Alberta to the MS clinic in Edmonton where the doctor couldn’t confirm if I had MS or vasculitus or some other affliction. My GP in Manning, AB just said it was probably aura migraines without the pain. Although I thought that was really weird – Who was I to argue with a Doctor, as I only know about trees and stuff.
At the Hydrocephalus clinic in Calgary, the Doctor gave me some testing. researching on the internet, it is called Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire. I was asked what day of the week, where I was, my name, how old i was. I was asked to draw a clock and put a time in it. Super easy right. then I had to read directions and follow a connect the dots pattern….this is where it gets messed up. I was simple; I knew it was, but I had to say it out to follow then i messed it up, but caught it and corrected. I was asked to memorize then recall a five minutes later/- crap I think i recalled 4/6. And of course I forget the rest of the testing. Although I did have some hiccups I thought i did okay. I scored 23 or 24/30 and with my university education level puts me at a borderline mild cognitive impairment.
So where does that put me after the surgery…the Doctor’s could tell me that my physical symptoms would disappear, but can not guarantee how much improvement in my cognitive functioning will come back. I sure in the hell hope that what ever is causing my machine gun word stuckiness speech will go away. I can deal with anything else:)