After weeks of deliberation, contemplation, discussions, poor bloods and continuous stays in hospital Charlotte was finally able to have her operation today. As Rod alluded to in the previous post we negotiated a number of issues with Charlotte’s Neurosurgeon and decided that having a reservoir implanted would be the best option for Charlotte at this stage. The shunt would be quite a large and possibly detrimental option at this point in Charlie’s treatment. Charlotte is suffering from hydrocephalus. (Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek words: hydro meaning ‘water’ and kephale meaning ‘head’).


Hydrocephalus is the excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), within the cavities of the brain called ventricles. Hydrocephalus is a lifelong condition as Charlotte will be treated rather than cured. The most effective and common treatment of hydrocephalus is the implanting of a shunt.


Charlotte was going to have a VP shunt (ventriculo-peritoneal shunt) inserted. It is made from silicone and polypropylene plastic. There are no parts outside the body and the shunt system consists of three parts:  two catheters and a one-way valve. The proximal catheter is placed in the ventricle of the brain, the distal catheter is placed in the peritoneal cavity (abdomen) and they are both attached to a one-way-valve used to regulate the pressure and amount of CSF flow. A small incision would then be placed in the scalp, a small hole is then made in the skull and a tiny opening made to accommodate the catheter and then the shunt valve. The distal or peritoneal catheter is then tunnelled under the skim to the abdomen. Finally, the end of the catheter is placed in the peritoneal cavity. As you can imagine, now at the end of her chemo protocol, her depleted bone marrow means that her bloods are not bouncing back as quickly and the risk of infection would have been too high.


So, a ventricular reservoir was implanted in her brain to manage the hydrocephalus. It is a small domed capsule (which can be seen protruding from her head…until hair grows back!) that is connected to the ventricles by a catheter. The reservior has no valves so the fluid can wash in and out and a small needle is pushed into the reservior to drain the fluid. When Charlotte was in recovery she pulled the bandages from her head, she ate a vegemite sandwich and had a cup of water all before she had left recovery. Her bandages had to be replaced as she had a good deal of fluid leakage; which may mean that she will eventually have to have the shunt. But anyway, she is doing really well. She currently looks like she is wearing a turban! It will be a long night tonight with hourly obs and a full ward! Poor Rod he has tonight’ shift as I am in until she is discharged. It was horrible having to leave her but she was very happy after eating her fish and chips for dinner and an endless supply of snacks (making up for missing lunch!).


Thanks for all the messages, calls and prayers. We are relieved today to have this operation out of the way. Chemo looks like it has been postponed until next week as she has a fair bit of healing to do and chemical therapy will just hinder the process.


Until next time,


Beck and Rod xo


P.S. If you have the energy pleas say a few extra prayers for one of Charlotte’s friends in C2 West who is not doing too well. I felt sad today… there is a fine line between everything being great and things being dire. We walk that line each time we go to hospital but when you watch a child go down hill and their family’s grief it breaks your heart. Nobody deserves that heartache!