Monday, September 12, 2011

Take foot. Insert in mouth.

Will knew better than we did that something was wrong. His actions and change in personality over the past week appear not to be terrible twos, but instead some type of medical issue. I think that Nate and I do a pretty good job of interpreting Will's needs on a regular basis, but we are certainly not infallible. This is one of those times.

Last night, Luke wet the bed a little bit (very odd) and came out of his room to tell us. When we went back to change the sheets and his bottoms, we saw that Will had recently vomited and was in the midst of a seizure. We got him up, administered his emergency medicine and waited.

It didn't work.

Will's seizures would stop for a minute or two, during which time he was somewhat lucid and able to speak. Then he would slip back into a seizure and we'd lose him for a while. After about 30 minutes, we decided that it was time to get help.

Nate took Will to our local ER. They administered a different emergency seizure medication, but Will got sick and seized again. He slept fitfully for a while, and had another seizure this morning.

If Will is going to have a seizure, it typically doesn't last this long. The duration, number of seizures, and vomiting was concerning all of us. They made the decision to transfer Will to UNC so that he could be followed more closely.

The ambulance team took such great care in transferring Will to their stretcher that he did not awaken. He remained asleep while he took the drive to Chapel Hill. I followed behind nervously in the van... reminiscing about the last time I followed an ambulance down I-40, 4 days after Will and Luke were born. Same scary feelings... you don't get used to this, no matter how many years it has been.

Will made it safely to his room at UNC, but vomited and seized again shortly after arriving. We quickly saw neurology and neurosurgery. They decided to tap Will's shunt to quickly determine if his personality changes, seizures, and vomiting were being caused by a shunt malfunction.

I tearfully helped them hold Will down while they scrubbed his head with rubbing alcohol and betadine solution, and tested the pressure in his shunt. God, I hate that. He howled. He flexed. I tried to sing, but there's little that B-I-N-G-O can do when you've been awoken from a deep sleep by a needle in your scalp.

Shortly thereafter, they took us down for x-rays. Will slept through the whole thing. There was a lot of physical manipulation going on so that they could see from his head to his belly, and he didn't flinch or complain. This, too, is concerning. The typical signs of a shunt malfunction are vomiting, headache, lethargy, and seizure.

Since we got back from x-rays, Will has been asleep. This is both good and bad. It is good in that he is getting rest that he didn't get last night. But it is bad because the longer he is asleep, the more likely that something is wrong with his shunt.

The pediatrician just came to talk to me. She said that the shunt tap and x-ray revealed that the shunt is functioning, the flow through the distal end (which goes from his scalp to his abdomen) is "sluggish." Neurosurgery wants to keep Will for observation over the next day and see if he becomes more alert. They also want more frequent neurological exams, but in order for that to happen, we must be transferred to the pediatric ICU.

If Will is still lethargic tomorrow, they will do a nuclear shunt study. We haven't ever had one of these before. It is kind of similar to a swallow study, just with the shunt instead. They will inject the shunt with some type of radioactive dye, and under x-ray, they will see how fast it is flowing. If it is, in fact, flowing sluggishly, then Will would receive his new shunt then...

Not exactly something we're looking forward to receiving... but obviously necessary. Please continue to keep Will in your thoughts and prayers during the next couple of days while he in under observation and potentially under the knife.

1 comment:

Christie said...

Hey - thinking of you guys. We'll keep Will in our prayers, especially over the next few days. Keep us updated, I've been thinking of you all day!