Shunt Life: Gas Pains
You may think I am kidding, after all I have had several surgeries including brain surgeries and this is what I choose to write about… but gas pains with a VP shunt can make your eyes blur with severity! In fact, shortly after I had my VP shunt inserted in 2018, I rushed to the emergency room with the sharpest of pains in my abdomen thinking that there was something seriously wrong. Then, we were told that my body was just trying to get used to the life-saving foreign object in my body. But what I learned later is that this pain was even more than a body trying to register something new and it returns on a regular basis!
This pain, the one that had me curled up on the floor crying to make it stop was none other than gas. Yup! Simple, boring, normal gas!
There have been a lot of things to get used to with my new VP shunt. A few things that we were warned about before surgery and several things that we picked up along the road of recovery. But something I never dreamed would be an issue is the shear normalcy of how often I get excruciating gas pains as little air bubbles push on my tubing. It can be felt all the way from my abdomen and up into my shoulder on the side that my shunt tract runs through. It’s shocking sometimes and I occasionally panic until I remember what it is.
Lots of Gas-X! Haha, jokes aside, I’m not an advocate of any particular brand; however, I can tell you that I personally live off of Mirolax, Gas-X, and Beano generics! That may be too much information for some. Not many people like talking about the gastro situation and all that entails. But if you have a VP shunt inserted, you will want to consider this part of the decision.
Why? Well, at first I didn’t think it was a big deal. Everyone gets gas from time to time. Nevertheless, recently a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist expressed concern over the effects of abdominal pressure on my shunt. Babies tend to put some pressure on the tubing, so the added pressure of gas and constipation can further complicate the situation. In my situation, doctors plan on managing the situation with meds. But it may be something to keep an eye on in your own case. What I thought was just gas can actually affect the draining rate of fluid! This means the possibility of additional shunt adjustments and surgeries to maintain the right balance.
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