My journey started back in 2013 when I was 23 Years Old and living in Birmingham for work, I had just returned from visiting my mum in Scotland and on return had went to visit a friend for a catch up over a drink but when I got home an hour later something wasn’t right. I had suddenly went from feeling fine to feeling disorientated with double vision. At this point I actually thought my drink had been spiked so called a taxi and took myself to Birmingham City Hospital. I explained how I felt to triage and they handed me pain relief and told me there was a 3 hour wait, as I waited I began to feel more ‘normal’ and actually thought I am wasting there time but something kept me there.
Once I had got taken by the doctor everything happened very fast. I got two CT Scans, one with dye injected and one without, then onto an MRI scan and admitted to a bed. At which point I had no idea what was going on and was on my own as it was the earlier hours of the morning and my whole family where in Scotland. The doctor appeared with scans and said there was a severe build-up of fluid in my ventricles and would require emergency surgery so they were transferring me to the Queen Elizabeth. At that point I don’t think I felt anything but shock, I went from think I’ve been spiked to I could die and I am alone.
Come 9am, I had been transferred and seen another doctor at the Queen Elizabeth who explained the double vision was from severe pressure behind my eyes and the headache was the pressure from the fluid build-up in my ventricles. Unlike in children as I was in adulthood my skull is fully formed and doesn’t allow for expansion so it puts the full pressure on my brain so the doctor was amazed I hadn’t lost my speech, memory or concentration as the fluid had enlarged my ventricles to an extreme level. .
At this point I had to make the call to my mum in Scotland which as you can imagine was just tears and panic as she was hours away but she got herself straight to Birmingham to support me.
The next person I seen was the neurosurgeon who went through the various options, now I had obstructive hydrocephalus which was caused through trauma or an accident, something we still don’t know but my blockage was in the cerebral aqueduct which meant I could get a Third ventriculostomy. This meant they could create a small hole in the third ventricle allowing the fluid to drain to the brain wall without inserting a shunt, something that wasn’t recommended as it can get blocked easier and requires maintenance over time. However similar to a shunt I can still get a blockage over time and get complications, there is just slightly less risk.
I went for my surgery 3 days later and can honestly say up until the night before I was calm but then it hit me when I was going to sleep the night before, what if I don’t come back, what if this is it and I felt the need to tell anyone I loved, I loved them. I then cried myself to sleep and woke up at 7am with my woman by my side. My mum was amazing through it and managed to hold it together until I left but then completely broke down to the nurses, which as a mum now I can’t even imagine.
I went to surgery at 9am and can remember waking at 2pm, everything had went well but due to the change in pressure in my head I had been vomiting heavily so they had to put me back under to let my balance adjust. After coming round the first two things I remember is needing the toilet and the nurse telling me you can’t walk “excuse me??” and the surgeon laughing as apparently in the mist of the vomiting my first line was, “I’m alive” followed by “how much hair have you shaved off”, I clearly know my priorities!! Anyway being the independent person I am I decided my dignity was more important than the “you can’t walk” and made my way to the toilet. Which my mum describes as bamba on ice, as the nurse and her tried to hold all 6ft of me up! However I still believe my drive is what got me through the recovery so well plus the help of my mum. I spent a week in hospital working on my walking, memory and recovery before being discharged home to rest which continued for a further two weeks at home before I slowly returned to work. The one thing I did underestimate was how exhausted I would be, I remember going up a flight of stairs a week and half after surgery and it felt like I had climbed 1000 flights!
After the surgery I got regular check-ups for the first two years which all showed as clear so allowed me to be signed off. I still get headaches every so often and have had to get further checks (ie MRI or CT) but so far nothing has returned.
One thing it did however have an impact on was my pregnancy, I had numerous black outs which they put down to the pressure on my body, then the deliver. I had to deliver under a general anaesthetic as a C-section as nothing can go into my spine and they felt a natural birth would be too much pressure on my head. This was all success and both me and my little boy were happy a healthy afterwards.
I am forever grateful to the surgeon who essentially saved my life, something I will never forget and how much it made me appreciate life, family and just being true to yourself. During my recovery I moved home to Scotland to be near my family as one thing that really stuck with me was lying in a hospital bed and thinking I’m all alone and for what a job, so now I am happy at home in Scotland surrounded by my loved ones!