Aurelia and I visited the mechanic, err I mean neurosurgeon, on Monday. I realized about halfway through the appointment that in a lot of ways seeing the neurosurgeon is a lot like taking our child in for a tune-up. And I'm not saying this because I don't like our doctor. Quite the opposite. He was instrumental in saving my baby's life a year ago. He is a very skilled doctor and a very nice person, albeit a little quiet and quirky. But his primary role in our daughter's care at this point is making sure that the little piece of equipment he installed in her brain when she was 24 hours old is still in pristine, working condition. This is important because shunts have an extremely high failure rate (cue Mama Hawk's soap box speech on why more research needs to be done on hydrocephalus). I'll save the speech for another time and just quickly say that the shunt has a higher failure rate than any other medically implanted device. Anyways, back to the mechanic's.
At some doctor's appointments, people tend to feel miffed if they're in and out of there fast. You know that whole "I feel like a number, or paycheck, or specimen" argument? But at some appointments, it's nice to just get the reassuring, "Everything looks great!" The neurosurgeon's office would be one of the those appointments. We want to avoid phrases like "closer look" or "further testing" or "brain surgery." I am thrilled to say that Aurelia's tune-up went very well. She had a cranial ultrasound a few months ago to check on the function of the shunt, and according to the scan her ventricles are not dilated! Our doctor actually used the word amazing when describing the inside of her brain.
And it really is amazing. Her little brain is doing so much work, and it's able to work so much harder when the shunt is doing its job.
The other great thing about a good tune-up is that we've now graduated to yearly visits with the neurosurgeon unless otherwise indicated. It's been drilled into our heads over and over that malfunction can happen at anytime, so we have to stay alert to it. I told our doctor that I sincerely hope that I don't have to see him until next August, because that would mean Aurelia's shunt would still be doing what it's supposed to do. In the mean time, I'm breathing a little sigh of relief, checking another appointment off my list, and praying that we get to stay out of that office until August 2012!
Oh, and just for kicks and giggles: I asked our neurosurgeon if there was any indication that the abdominal portion of the shunt could be contributing to Aurelia's absolute loathing of tummy time. He looked at me like I had said something in a foreign language, laughed and asked, "What's tummy time?" It's such a huge part of my world right now, I just assume that everyone else is in tune to it too. I guess brain surgeons who don't have children don't really need to know about it.