When their son, Ashton, began complaining of excruciating headaches a couple of years ago, Rick and Brenda thought it was likely migraines as they had both suffered from them in the past. Visits to the doctor resulted in prescriptions for pain and the order to drink more water. When his headaches persisted and he explained that he was hearing things and feeling something pressing down on his brain, his parents knew this warranted another look.
Once Ashton had his braces removed, it was possible to get him in for an MRI. Rick was startled to get a text from Brenda after the test saying “They’ve brought us into a room in the ER. They are giving us the results right away!” As Rick rushed to the hospital, Brenda was told that Ashton had hydrocephalus. (Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) moves around the brain and spinal cord on a specific pathway. When too much CSF gets trapped anywhere along this pathway, it can expand the ventricles and put pressure on the brain.)
The normal drainage through the base of his skull had not been sufficient so neurosurgeon, Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin described the Endoscopic third ventriculostomy surgery for which he is a world renowned expert. As an alternative to standard shunt surgeries to drain CSF, Dr. Jay said he would put a small hole in the base of Ashton’s third ventricle to drain the CSF in a more natural way. Rick and Brenda were relieved to know that their son was in such capable hands.
Just days later, on October 4, Ashton returned to the hospital with his parents and while he was somewhat nervous for the surgery, he was so pleased to know that something could be done to finally make the headaches stop for good. His parents waited through the two hour surgery and hoped that their smart, kind young man would come out of surgery just the same. Rick knew right away that his son was “back” when he made a reference to Cousin Eddy’s metal plates (from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation) as soon as he saw him in the recovery room.
Rick and Brenda are extremely grateful for the world-class expertise and care they encountered at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. In April, Ashton will have a follow-up MRI to ensure that the drainage is sufficient. Currently, Ashton is back playing non-contact hockey and enjoying a headache-free life!
To hear more stories like this or to donate to the 2017 Caring for Kids Radiothon in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation visit www.KidsRadiothon.com