Sunday, June 22, 2014
DISCUSSION(S) FROM JUNE 2014 MEETING
First, what a chore to get to the meeting! Several major roads were closed, causing HUGE traffic tie-ups. Combine that with the Rock N Roll Marathon/Half Marathon and construction projects--it was one HUGE mess! I was originally concerned about finding a new route from the train station to the hospital, but that turned out to be minor! My trip was nothing compared to a member (I was going to pick up at the train station), who ended up having to take the bus. That trip took over 90 minutes! It usually takes less than ten to go from the train to the hospital.
I did, inadvertently, find the new way to the hospital from Pioneer Square, which takes less than five minutes! We went back that way, when I dropped her off at the train for the return trip. It was still a mess at the Pike Place Market & the heart of downtown, but finally got home.
The meeting itself was great, as usual. We had the regulars and a conference call with a member from the east coast. Always love having those conference calls and including folks who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend.
We discussed progressive issues we each have, some hydrocephalus related, some not. Part of it just comes with age, unfortunately. At least SOMETHING is normal about us! :) One of us is having physical therapy and another has just finished his sessions of occupational therapy. I will only speak to mine right now. My shoulder feels better than it has in years. I have soft tissue damage from a car accident a few years ago that is finally getting dealt with now that I have health insurance that covers such things. This does tie in with my hydrocephalus, since my old shunt scar/pathway has been a literal pain for the last 31 years, ever since the shunt tubing was removed in 1983. In addition to the shoulder issue, this will also be able to be examined thoroughly.
Next on my medical agenda (other than losing more weight) is to get back to having a neuro team and really digging deep into my hydrocephalus. I want to do some serious examination and research into my case. As we always remind each other, every case is unique.
I've been diagnosed with scoleosis, which I guess I always had. I've been told that as long as I remain active and mobile it shouldn't be more of a problem than it has been for the last 50+ years. I was never told about scoleosis, ever, until about a year ago. All these little boxes of surprises...
Back to the meeting, we discussed history of hydrocephalus treatment a bit more. One member reminded us that his first neurosurgeon was very involved in early lobotomies, which shocked him. Looking back at how hydrocephalus was treated before the 1950's and looking at today's treatments, it makes us even more grateful for what we have in our lives now. It also drives home the concept of making lemonade out of lemons. We have very full, rewarding lives! Frankly, we all agreed that we appreciate what we have in a very special way.
It also brings up the whole concept of a one-size-fits-all 'cure' that so many new parents, new to hydrocephalus, seem to be fixated on. They seem to think that their children's lives will be forever horrible and without joy, success or fulfillment. Nothing could be further from the truth! Shame on the medical professionals who assume that because they detect hydrocephalus that a fetus' life is over before it has begun. There is no way of knowing what that child will achieve. Assuming can deprive everyone of the benefits that every life has to offer. We are much more than our brain scans.
A few years ago a couple, new to the hydrocephalus experience, proceeded to tell me what my life was like and what I could/couldn't do in life. The husband even said "I don't get you people, you are so against research." We aren't against research into hydrocephalus, we tend to be against this idea that we need to be 'fixed' and that our lives are horrible without their 'cure'. Hydrocephalus is treatable, manageable and liveable. This couple routinely presumes to make these grand pronouncements about what hydrocephalus is like, when it isn't anything like what they are saying! The majority of us 'dinosauers' had parents who refused to have us being defined as cripples or a homogenous group. Hydrocephalus isn't WHO we are, but it is a part of us.
As far as a 'cure', the only real universal 'cure' is prevention. Even then, it isn't going to ever be completely eliminated. Instead of looking for the hydrocephalus 'cure', they need to look at preemies, brain bleeds, preventing accidents (particularly with teens and young adults), find answers to international concerns rather than sending healthy men and women into war zones where they can be damaged in so many ways--including TBIs/brain injury.
We talked about the fact that some parents get their kids involved in contact sports at a very early age, when their necks and brain aren't close to being mature enough to handle the blows. Even adult brains can't handle everything that contact sports throws at them. Concussions need to be taken more seriously. It is getting better, but awareness and appreciation of them have a long way to go. Heading balls in soccer, for example, is not good, it still damages the brain, even if they hit the sweet spot. There is nothing funny or lighthearted about being beaned in baseball either. We still have coaches and parents who's theory is 'walk it off', 'shake it off' and 'don't be a wuss'. It isn't being a wuss to take the brain and potential damage of it seriously.
Research into causes and prevention of acquired hydrocephalus, as well as congenital hydrocephalus is important. But it isn't as glamorous or 'sexy' as talking about a 'cure' and 'the evils of the shunt'. I'm grateful for the shunt and where management of my condition has come. There are even procedures that can be done before birth with some congenital cases.
We want to also get more involvement in the community with the group. Awareness is great, but we want to reach more families and adults living with the condition.