Friday, January 11, 2013

Shunts Save Lives

On Wednesday Isaiah took Evan for a check-up with the neurosurgeon. Although Evan hasn't had any of the typical "you need a shunt" signs (like lethargy, irritability, bulging soft spot), the doctor was a bit concerned about the size of Evan's head (above 99th percentile) and his splaying sutures. He scheduled us for an MRI the next day to give us a better idea of the severity of Evan's hydrocephalus and our options for treatment. After the MRI we would:

a. Not do anything if the results were surprisingly good
b. Have shunt surgery (a tube to drain extra fluid from the brain to the abdomen)
c. Have ETV surgery (to drill a hole in the ventricle to drain the extra fluid from the brain)

I had a talk with Evan before we left to assure him we would do our best to make the best decisions for his health. In preparation for the MRI Evan stopped eating milk at 4am and stopped all fluids at 5am. We bundled him up at 6am and headed to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake.
Evan changed into this adorable hospital gown and had a brief check-up with a nurse. He needed an IV to get the sedation for the MRI. I told them he's notorious for being difficult to get an IV into so they prepped his veins by taping heat packs to his hands and feet. It still took 4 attempts and lots of tears to get a good IV in his itty bitty hand.

Evan fell asleep even before the sedation--likely due to exhaustion following the IV trauma. He became a bit wiggly during the MRI so they gave him a heavier sedative. After the MRI we went to a recovery room where Evan was brought to us, completely knocked out. The doctors reviewed the images and told us the news: Sure enough, Evan needed a shunt. His ventricles were quite a bit larger than his last MRI and the ETV surgery was not an option since his pituitary gland was in the way of where they usually enter the brain. We asked the neurosurgeon lots of questions. The operating room was prepped. We discussed Evan's health history, signed consents, and kissed him goodbye. He left for shunt surgery! He looked fairly pathetic when surgery was over.

We carried Evan to a private room where we would spend the evening. He was covered in orange antibacterial soap. He was hooked up to all the same kinds of wires and tubes as the NICU. He slept a lot. He ate a little. He finally opened his eyes early this morning. He started smiling again. He chugged a few bottles. He burped a lot. AND...we're ready to go home! What a day!

Note: We can already see a noticeable size difference in Evan's head. The sutures in the back of his head are now touching and the neurosurgeon said his ventricles have shrunk. Wahoo!


  1. So glad it seems to have gone well! I was thinking about you guys all day!! Hope to see you soon!

  2. Shunts do save lives! So glad he's doing better!

  3. Amazing pictures, they help tell the story. I love the "talk" you had with Evan, what a great parent thing to do.

    I can tell his smiles must really be beautiful.

    Love you guys.

  4. Great news all went well. We have been praying for all of you. Evan is so lucky to have you as his parents. :)

  5. I'm so glad everything went smoothly! Evan is a trooper and looks especially cute in his hospital clothes ;) i love that his little y sock monkey has been there from day one!! Evan is in my prayers, keep us posted!!

  6. So so glad that the surgery went well. And yea that you're already seeing positive results! We will continue to keep you in our prayers and hope that all continues to go well. P.S. we got your card. :) you're so sweet. Love you tons!! :)