January 21, 2015: Headed to hospital – why? Well, this begins my story, and journey of my one month stay in hospital. It all started with severe pain in my stomach. It felt as though someone was pulling my stomach in all directions, like straining muscles. I definitely didn’t clue in that it could be something with my shunt. After plenty of tests, it turned out that I had fluid build up from my shunt in my stomach. Since Ottawa’s General Hospital doesn’t deal with Neurosurgery, I was taken by ambulance, a day or two later to the Civic Hospital. This is where my journey began… my long, and somewhat frustrating one.

Extracting fluid from stomach = needles: Most people know how I am with needles. We aren’t friends, I can tell you that much. In fact, when the Ultrasound Tech told me it was time for the freezing needle, I already was panicking… no Adavan for this procedure. Instead of using a bigger needle to extract the fluid, they used a smaller needle so then I wouldn’t have to be poked multiple times with freezing needles. Very smart idea on their part, but still an incredible amount of anxiety. In future, note to self, any procedure that involves needles, anxiety medication first. All I will say is everyone, including my fiancé could hear my screams of anxiety from the Ultrasound waiting room… sorry all!

Let the shunt externalization begin!: A few days after some fluid was taken from my stomach, it was time for the first surgery. My neurosurgeon took the tube out of my stomach and externalized it through a drainage system. Doing this would hopefully get rid of the infection that was there. Let the waiting, and sample taking begin! A sample of CSF(Cerebral Spinal Fluid) would be taken to be tested every two days.

Who knew PICC Lines could be so useful? I didn’t!: I seriously thought it was just another reason to poke me, when in actual fact, it saved the amount of poking needing to be done substantially. This time, I remembered to ask for Adavan before the procedure, which honestly made me tolerate it a lot easier. The PICC Nurse used ultrasound equipment to find a good vein for the PICC to go into. It only took one freezing needle, and I was much more cool as a cucumber about it. When the nurse was putting the line through, it somehow decided to go into my neck instead of my chest. I did various things to help fix this, so it wasn’t too bad.

Benefits of a PICC Line:

  • Far less pokes for placement of IV’s
  • Nurses can draw blood right from the PICC Line
  • You are able to use your PICC Line in the community, if needed

Two negative cultures, then one positive: So, in this first round, two cultures come back negative, no traces of infection. The third one, however, different story. So, instead of doing what I would’ve thought smart, they held onto hope that with stronger antibiotics, I would have three negative cultures, then be done with it and get home. Did that happen? No. I was quite bummed when they told me that, again, the third culture came back positive.

Shunt removed, EVD(External Ventricular Drain) inserted: I may remind you blog readers that this was my second surgery of three… yes, three. So, now, I have this tube running from my left side of my forehead into a drainage system, basically taking over my entire shunt’s job that happens internally, and doing so externally. I seriously was hoping for three negative cultures so I could be done with this. It was the middle of February by this point.

Three negative cultures… hurray!!!: This meant it was time to schedule me to get a new shunt put back in. Then, hopefully after that I’d move back up to the 7th floor. Since I wouldn’t have any drains in me anymore. I was super excited about that!! Final surgery was successful, but boy did I forget about the pain I would feel when I woke up.

Oh my goodness… can’t move my neck… forgot about this: The last time I had the full shunt replaced was when I was ten, so until I was faced with the pain again, I kinda forgot how much pain I experienced when I was ten. After surgery, about a day later, I moved up to the seventh floor. I was finally on my way to feeling better.

February 21, 2015: As of this day, it meant I had been in hospital for a month. Not the most pleasant thing to remind myself of, but by this point, I was on my way to go home. I actually left the hospital the following Monday, and got all my staples removed within that week.

There you have it, the biggest update in awhile… thank you shunt! The next one is sadly another hospitalization, but trust me, nowhere near as long!!