Friday, August 31, 2012

Just a little off the top, Doc.

Another random memory.

As I was brushing Maggie's hair this morning I noticed the large spot on the back of her head where the hair has broken off from the constant movement of her head against the headrest. It's been there for years. It's not a bald spot exactly, but the hair just breaks off after it gets around 1/4 inch long.  With the configuration of the new headrest (which still needs some work) there is a chance her head won't rub and maybe, just maybe, her hair will be able to grow back there. It doesn't really matter, no one can see it; but it would be nice.

Thinking about that made me remember the 50+ times Maggie had surgery to repair or replace the shunt in her head and would come out of surgery with half of her head shaved. It was hard to see, but like everything else we got used to it. It takes about 6 weeks for the hair to come back in to cover the spot fully and then it would not be noticeable.  (As a matter of fact, the spot I'm describing on the back of her head looks like she's about 7 weeks out from surgery.)

This was just a small rather inconsequential part of the drama we went though all the time. When your child is headed for brain surgery, the last thing you care about is her hair, at least the first 25 times. Then you get more practical.

In 1998, when Maggie four years old, she was scheduled to be the flower girl in her cousin Kelly's wedding. We were all heading to Montana for the wedding. Then, as now, we were never sure until the day we left if Maggie would be stable enough to make any trip or outing and my family learned to go with the flow. It would have taken a lot for us to cancel this trip, though.

About a month before the scheduled trip, Maggie's shunt failed again. She needed surgery. Sometimes these things came in clusters and she might have two or three surgeries in a couple of weeks. We crossed our fingers that it would work the first time so we could make the trip.

We were in pro-op going through all her history and allergies etc. The anesthesiologist was there as was the neurosurgery resident and the surgical nurse. When they were wrapping up their questions they asked if we had any questions. Steve and I had been through this many times and were very familiar with the procedure. He was surprised, then, when I said, "Yes, I do."

They all looked at me and I asked, "Who is in charge of shaving her head." The resident looked at me puzzled and said, "I am."  I looked right at him and said - "Do not shave any more hair that is absolutely necessary. She has to be in a wedding in a month and I don't want the pictures to be wrecked." Steve rolled his eyes and the anesthesiologist and the nurse both started to laugh. The resident looked more puzzled than ever. Very few parents give beauty instructions to a brain surgeon; but there is a possibility I am not like other people.

Maggie came out of surgery like a champ,  the procedure worked the first time and we were able to make the trip. And my fashion instructions worked too. Maggie had just about a two inch bald spot that never showed in any pictures.

Sometimes it pays to be practical. 


  1. What an adorable photo --

    When Sophie was a tiny baby, I used to pray that her hair would stay curly not frizzy and that her seizures would stop.

    Well, you know that outcome.

  2. OMG she looks so tiny and cute. That's why photos are sooooo important!

  3. OMG she looks so tiny and cute. That's why photos are sooooo important!


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