If any of you ever need to visit the Mayo Clinic (and I pray you don’t), I highly recommend it. The facility is beautiful and the staff and physicians were so nice, helpful and professional. It is a first class facility. It is located in Rochester, MN. It employs 31,000 people and covers 15 million square feet!!!
We were in Rochester for 3 days of testing and office visits. Cayden was seen by a pediatric Neurologist and a pediatric Neurosurgeon. The Neurosurgeon’s name is Dr. Wetjen and he decided that Cayden will need to have surgery. Surgery is scheduled for 2 weeks from today, Oct. 27th. Cayden’s shunt is intermittently failing; however, Dr. Wetjen thinks that the cause of the failures is the tubing, not the portion embedded in his skull. The plan, the hope, is to replace all of the tubing but leave rest. He may even be able to feed the new tubing through the original canal, alleviating the need to re-tunnel a new canal through the side of his neck, through the chest wall and into the abdomen. However, a lot is unknown, and won’t be decided until he opens Cayden’s shunt tract. Cayden’s shunt has lasted much longer than average and because it is 13 years old there is the possibility that the Doctor won’t be able to “meld” a new system with the older one. In that case, the entire shunt will have to be replaced. Newer shunts also have a siphon device on the end of the tubing in the abdomen. Cayden’s does not. Cayden’s is not draining spinal fluid off his brain and into his abdomen quite as well as it should. As most of you know, Cayden’s growth rate this past year was phenomenal. This growth, plus the absence of a siphon to assist drainage, seem to be the cause of the lackluster peformance of his shunt. Cayden’s shunt is working strictly off of gravity right now so regardless of how much of the shunt needs to be replaced, a siphon will be added.
We feel blessed that we ended up at the Mayo Clinic and blessed with the Doctors caring for Cayden. Cayden knows that God is in charge, always but he is still anxious of course. For now, I am trying to keep him busy, keep his mind otherwise occupied, while we hurry up and wait for Oct. 27th.
By the way, for anyone who wondered, this is what the actual shunt looks like. The ventricular catheter is the end actually fed through a burr hole into the brain. The shunt valve is just under the scalp, at the top of the burr hole. It is the only part you can see and feel on Cayden.