Another vocabulary word from the day my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor: Hydrocephalus. Water on the brain.
I had heard of it before that October morning in the radiology lab. I had the notion that babies were sometimes born with hydrocephalus, and it caused their heads to swell, since the plates of the skull are not yet fused.
For an 11 year old, the skull is solid. Excess fluid in the brain will push against and compress the soft tissue, the grey and white matter that controls every aspect of our ability to function.
Normally, cerebrospinal fluid flows from the spinal column up into the brain, and then exits back down again. Matt’s tumor, attached to his brain stem, blocked one of the exits, so the fluid had no place to go.
That’s why Matt’s symptoms were so pervasive—cognitive, physical, emotional. His poor brain was literally being squished.
Had it gone undetected much longer … I shudder to think of the outcome.
So I don’t.
I think about how lucky we are that Matt’s brain, and our family, has recovered.