As most of you know, we have been in and out of the hospital the past 3 weeks with our 21 month old Isabella. The week before Halloween, she fell off the second steps of our staircase at home and landed on her head. Wasn’t a bad fall, she briefly cried and got back up and went on to play with her brother and sisters. A couple weeks prior to that, she began to pull out hair from the top of her head and was eating it. We were told that just like some kids tend to bite their nails, Isabella just chose to eat her hair.
Well, as the story goes, Isabella began to throw up randomly a day later and we kept finding strands of hair. We believed it was from her eating her hair. We underwent several tests at our area teaching hospital to figure out why she was vomiting. It wasn’t until the final test that they figured it out. On the 24th of November, she had an MRI done and they discovered what they call a Sub-dural Hematoma (a bleed on the brain). They believed it was the cause of the fall. We spent most of Thanksgiving week in the ICU, only to be observed by several Neurosurgeons. Their only Pediatric Neurosurgeon was out of the country and didn’t return until December 1st. Up to then, the docs decided to just treat her symptoms and keep her comfortable because they didn’t know what the best route to take with her would be, either surgery or observation.
To complicate matters, along the MRI/CT’s, they found that Isabella was born with an Arachnoid Cyst (AC). This is a pocket of spinal fluid that is found in around 5% of people and may or may not ever cause trouble.
We met with the Ped Neurosurgeon on Monday, and they felt we should just watch it for the next month, treat symptoms, and give her a drug that would take some of the fluid out. We weren’t entirely satisfied with the plan and opted for a 2nd opinion. We went to see a well known Pediatric Neurosurgeon at UCLA on Tuesday and he confidently explained Isabella’s trouble.
Isabella does have a large arachnoid cyst that with the fall, or even prior to the fall, burst into the sub-dural layer, creating yet another pocket of fluid. Both of these pockets are placing a great amount of pressure on her brain, causing her vomiting, headaches and anger. On the CT scans you can see her brain is being pushed over to the left around 10 mm. The Dr. has suggested a surgery to relieve that pressure. This coming Monday, Isabella will get a shunt implanted in her head. It will run from her brain down to drain into her abdomen. It will have a valve that can be controlled magnetically for the pressure and will not be visible from the outside. This shunt will slowly and physiologically drain her cyst and sub-dural pocket so that the brain can return to a comfortable space in her head and eliminate the symptoms she’s been having the past month.
As parents, Viola and I have had a lot on our plate the past few weeks and it has been pretty rough on us knowing what’s in store for Isabella. I can honestly say that nothing in life, so far, has been tougher. You realize nothing else in life really matters when you see your kids go through so much. Our other 3 angels have been doing well with all this. They all have been exchanging illnesses the past 3 weeks too. [Editor’s note: Sonny is downplaying what they have been through. Each week for the last six weeks, at least 1 or 2 of the kids have had the stomach flu. Viola, herself, has had it twice!]
Its such a joy to see them give Isabella a hug and kiss each time she leaves to or comes from the hospital. They know what’s going on, we think. We have to extend great thanks to my Mom the past 2 weeks, she has been here day and night helping us with the other 3. She has seen her share of vomiting the past couple of weeks. My wife Viola has been a rock and has been the strongest woman I’ve ever witnessed.
Its times like this when you can certainly appreciate all of our family and friends. That means the most to us… friends and family really stepping up to be there for us. We will never forget that. We have most of all been grateful for the prayers everyone has given us. I believe that’s what’s carrying us along and that’s what has given us the strength to get moving every morning. Thank you all for that. Please know that we love all of you and thank you for the support you’ve all shown us. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and we will look forward to talking to all of you soon.
Sonny and Vi
Have an Incredible Day!