We had a fabulous Thanksgiving – I hope you all did as well.
We spent the day with Chad’s parents and my dad on Wednesday & Thursday and then went to spend time with my mom’s side of the family at Cape Hatteras early Friday morning. That was a terribly long drive with the girls, but we survived it with help from Leapsters, DVDs, snacks and pit stops. We packed up & headed back home Sunday morning, only to head back out first thing Monday to Winston-Salem.
As we suspected, Dr. Tatter gave us two surgical options.
#1: Insert a second shunt
This shunt will be solely responsible for draining the right ventricle.
Chad has had this surgery – it was fairly easy on him. And this time, we have plenty of notice to stop his blood thinners before his surgery.
#2: Fenestration of the Septum Pellucidum
This is a more invasive surgical procedure that may (or may not) solve the problem. It’s more invasive and the surgical team would make a hole (or several) in the mesh-like membrane that separates the ventricles. It could be a long term fix without further need for a shunt. But, there are risks involved when removing any part of the brain. We, Dr. Tatter included, just don’t want to take those risks. And there is a very good chance that the holes Dr. T creates could close up by way of scar tissue – and then we’d be right back where we started.
Calculating the risks and positive and negative outcomes of each wasn’t very hard for us this time around.
If you remember, Chad was pretty verbal about no more surgeries, no more treatments.
Well. Never say never.
Chad is getting a second shunt.
And it’s happening soon, although not as soon as he other surgeries have occurred over the last few months.
Chad will be admitted on Tuesday, December 15 at 1pm. And then he’ll be in surgery on Wednesday, December 16. If all goes as planned, we hope to be discharge on Friday, December 19.
On Tuesday of that week, Chad has a few tests that will need to be conducted — a CT of his chest and head. Since he had so many issues with the shunt tubing in his abdomen, it’s a given that this new shunt will be directed to his lung cavity. He has had no abdominal pain since the shunt was redirected to his pleural cavity – which is wonderful!
They just need to make sure there isn’t a large amount of fluid collected in his left lung cavity prior to surgery. If there is, they would need to revise the whole surgical plan. We’re not going to think about that — because everything will be FINE. Right? Right!
So why are we waiting so long?
December is a crazy month. I have a lot going on with cakes & pictures — and Carys is turning six next week, and her birthday has been planned for December 13. We decided it would be best to go about our lives, and plan the surgery during the girls’ last week of school. They will be distracted with the holiday goings-on at their schools, and it should make it a little easier for them.
I feel bad that he has to wait two more weeks, but we’re holding out hope that he will feel better for Christmas.
And that’s the best present I can imagine!
So, what happens if the shunt doesn’t work?
I’ll be honest. We’ve exhausted our options.
Chad has done chemo, a tumor resection, more chemo, radiation, a shunt…and there’s not much more to try. Right now, anyway. If this second shunt does not help relieve the pressure and crippling headaches, we will be looking at permanent pain management. That’s not something to take lightly and it’s not something that either of us want to consider right now. We’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it – which will be a long time from now, hopefully!
This month is extremely busy for us, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be updating. I will update while we are in Winston-Salem, but maybe not much before then. Happy Holidays!