I've made little progress on Soulmate recently, as I've had a lot on my mind... Specifically cerebrospinal fluid, which next week's brain surgery
is intended to remedy. An excess of it. On my mind. Get it? No? Oh, never mind. The point is that a person will pierce my mindmeat in a couple of days and also I might have a cancerous tumour and might die. All the best things in life happen to me, as you can clearly see.
I've been writing about this in tedious, oversharing detail on my ∞ personal blog ∞
, but the gist is that I have a condition called hydrocephalus, caused by a strange growth in my brain that may or may not be a tumour.
The brain has these fluid-filled chambers called ∞ ventricles ∞
, where the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in which the brain floats is produced. There are four ventricles: one in either hemisphere called the lateral ventricles, one in the middle called the third ventricle, and another below that called the fourth ventricle. CSF needs to flow between the ventricles to the fourth, where it can drain out into the spine or into the region surrounding the brain, where it can be reabsorbed and such. The third and fourth ventricles are connected by a narrow channel called the cerebral aqueduct that allows this flow to happen.
Roughly behind that, at the base of the brain in the middle, is the ∞ pineal gland ∞
; a little lump that plays a role in regulating sleep and such. Uncommonly, growths can develop on the pineal gland; sometimes benign cysts, other times malignant tumours. The growth presses against the cerebral aqueduct, which is obstructed, preventing the proper flow of CSF. The ventricles begin to bloat from the buildup of fluid - a condition called hydrocephalus - and basically they squash the brain. If left untreated, the increased pressure can be fatal.
That's what's happening in my head. There's a pineal growth, but the doctors don't know if it's a cyst or a tumour. My ventricles are huge, though; much bigger than they should be. I've seen the scans; it's horrifying.
On probably Tuesday, I'll be having an operation called a third ventriculostomy, which involves piercing down into the third ventricle and making a little hole in the bottom, so then CSF can flow out through there instead of through the blocked cerebral aqueduct. It seems relatively safe... though I don't understand how they get to the ventricles in the first place; do they just burrow right through the cortex? The descriptions of the procedure just seem to skim over this bit.
The growth is more of a concern though. They'll need to check whether it's benign or malignant; it could very well be brain cancer... in which case I don't know what'll happen next. I'm having a scan on Monday (today) to give a better idea of what it might be.
You probably don't need to know all this, but I'm trying to handle the situation by finding fascination in the anatomy of it all. I studied the structure of the brain for months as part of the Psychology degree I recently started, so I'm finding it interesting to be able to apply that knowledge in some way.
Anyway, obviously this is quite distracting... but I'll post again later about what's going to happen next. Assuming I don't just die during the surgery, that is!!