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Warning: Some unpleasant details. My attempt at the medical jargon

Saturday today.  The hospital was a ghost town.  We were there for three hours in the morning in Leo's niche in the NICU.  There was a new doc who did rounds this morning.  I got to ask some questions about the difference between hydrocephaly and hydranencephalus.  In Leo's case they don't know which one came first but both seem to be present.  Basically, hydranencephalus is the the more destructive pattern for the brain but it doesn't always mean swelling.  Kids can be born with hydranencephaly without the larger heads and pressure in the brain cavity.  We don't know the stats but it seems that babies who have extremely abnormal brain development can function on their brain stem for a while, for months even years, because that part of the brain controls most of our involuntary reflexes such as swallowing, digestion, heartbeat, etc.  The future of these kids is very tenuous however without the presence of the "higher" brain tissue needed for development and other complications often arise.   Hydrocephaly on the other hand is often a symptom of hydranencephaly (but it can be the other way around) in that it is mainly a plumbing problem and not solely a destructive process.  There is a buildup of cerebral spinal fluid because of blockage or hemorrhage in the ventricular of the brain that pushes the brain tissue up and all around and sometimes high against the scull plates.  In a baby these soft malleable plates will form the scull but the presence of water is not a big deal so far as it can be drained.  They can drain the fluid with a shunt and the brain tissue can settle into place over time as the skull fuses.  But without the brain tissue present due to the destructive forces associated with hydranencephaly a shunt is considered a comfort measure, as it will be in Leo's case.  Medical jargon notwithstanding, we love this little guy.  We just want to see him more comfortable at the moment and that is why on Monday they are going to put in a shunt.  Prayer service tomorrow for him.  We have a little room reserved for the service.  He will receive communion for the first time (we baptized him when he was born) and it gives us some time to be with him before the operation, which we hope will be a success.  This is the first active measure we have been blessed to take with Leo and it is our desire that this will be a great relief for him.  



  1. Thanks guys for these little messages. Our prayers are with you. Blessings on you and Leo.

  2. All four of you are in our thoughts and prayers. I hope everything goes well Monday.

  3. Thank you for the updates and for all your beautiful words, Justin and Anna. You are truly teaching us all the meaning of Christ-like love and patience. May Leo continue to bless all our lives and may God bless and protect him, particularly as he faces surgery tomorrow. We will be praying for him and for all of you. Love from the Carrs.

  4. We continue to keep you in our hearts and prayers, especially little Leo, tomorrow.
    Thank you for this medical info. Helps a great deal to understand Leo's condition.
    Love to all!


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