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    Old 02-06-2008, 07:21 PM   #1
    kc6cfb's Avatar
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    Location: Fresno, CA
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    Dementia, Hydrocephalus

    My sister has hydrocephalus. She has had the condition from birth and is now 42-years old. Because of her condition she has the mentality of a bright 8-year old. Until recently.

    Early this past January she began to display dementia like behavior. memory loss, hallucinations (speaking to deceased relatives, like our mother and asking me to remove non-existent persons or animals from her room), loosing her train of thought in mid-speech, slurring her words. Saying things that make no sense, like "I have a snowball in my hair", or "Help me jumble that door". She's been having mood swings, becoming very agitated when I cannot understand her. And she can no longer easily feed herself and needs to be feed, or shown how to use something as simple as a straw for drinks. When previously she has always been quite capable in this regard. She has also lost her bladder and bowl control. I have been cleaning up the messes, and taking care of her as best I can. She always took a lot of pride in her appearance and being clean. Now she doesn't seem to care at all.

    I took her to the local hospital (University Medical Ctr, Fresno) and the staff MD's ran tests. They told me that the tests, which included CT scans, showed them no significant changes from the CT scans taken at my sisters last shunt replacement in 2002. They did say there was some calcification issues, but nothing significant. They also checked the shunt and gave it a thumbs up, saying that it was still working fine. They didn't seem to feel that anything alarming was going on and sent her back home with me. Despite the fact that I have told them that she has declined sharply both mentally and physically in the past 6-7 weeks. One doctor simply said that some people my sister's age with hydrocephalus develop dementia-like behavior.

    All I know is that for the past several nights, my sister has been calling out loudly, often confused and disoriented when I answer. She is having a great deal of difficulty understanding simple questions, or accomplishing simple tasks like holding a spoon or drinking from a cup. And all these things are agitating and distressing her.

    Should I take her to Fresno's other major hospital, St. Agnes and allow their staff neurologists to check her out?

    I know next to nothing about hydrocephalus. Our mother was the expert, but she passed away. We have no other close family, and I'd really appreciate some advice or help.

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    Old 02-08-2008, 06:47 PM   #2
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    Re: Dementia, Hydrocephalus

    Definitely take her to a major hospital to be checked.

    My mother had to have a shunt put in when she was in her late 80's. She had dementia, physical and mental problems.

    Took her to Scott & White Hospital (a teaching hospital) in Texas and they drained 1 oz. fluid from her spine. Told the family if she was better the next day they would be able to help her. The next morning she got up, cooked breakfast, acted like nothing had ever been wrong with her. This was a woman who could not walk with the walker and talked out of her head. The shunt was put in and she was returned back to almost normal and lived to age 93.

    Your sister's shunt may not be working properly or may be too small for her now. A larger hospital will be more likely to find the real problem.

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