My 4-H Speech about Hydrocephalus

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Big sister mentor to young girl with hydrocephalusIndia Talwar is a 5th grader at Silverdale Baptist Academy in Tennessee and a member of her 4-H Club. She is also the big sister to Ema, a Kindergartner at the school, and being her mentor has meant learning about and supporting Ema through living with hydrocephalus. She and Ema have become very close, so when she had to write a speech for her 4-H Club speech competition, she chose to write about hydrocephalus. She won her local school competition and went on to deliver her speech at the Hamilton County competition where she placed 3rd. India also participates in the yearly Kids2Cure Hydrocephalus event at her school, which was the top fundraiser last year with 400 preschool and elementary students raising over $13,000!

Hydrocephalus

By India Talwar
5th grade, Silver Baptist Academy

Hi, my name is India Talwar.  I will be talking to you about a condition called Hydrocephalus.  This speech has to do with 4-H because it has to do with health.  Hydrocephalus is a condition that means water on the brain, but don’t worry, it isn’t contagious.  Hydrocephalus is when your brain’s fluid builds up and pushes against the brain and makes it swell.  A normal brain’s fluid will flow out of narrow passages called ventricles.  The fluid is responsible for transporting nutrients to the brain and taking waste from sensitive areas.  This fluid keeps our brains healthy, but if there’s a backup of fluid in any of the ventricles, fluid builds up and starts hydrocephalus.

Too much fluid to the brain can be harmful and even deadly.  There is no cure for Hydrocephalus. The only way to get fluid out of the brain is brain surgery. Imagine if every time you got a really bad headache it meant you had to have brain surgery to make it go away! During this brain surgery, a tube is put inside the brain to help the fluid flow out of the backed up areas.  The tube then goes from the brain down the neck and the end is put in the big space around your stomach or in your heart. The fluid goes out there and is absorbed into your body. You can’t see the tube because it is under a person’s skin. But you can feel and sometimes see a bump on a person’s head. That’s the valve that connects to the tube in the brain to control how much fluid can get out at one time. The whole thing is called a shunt.

Anyone can get Hydrocephalus at any time in their life.  About 1.5 million people in the world have Hydrocephalus.  6 out of 10 people die from hydrocephalus.  This year I was honored to be able to mentor an amazing and inspiring kindergartener named Ema.  Ema was born with Hydrocephalus.  She has a cyst in the back of her head that blocked the fluid from flowing and caused her hydrocephalus. People can be born with hydrocephalus or develop it from many different things, such as a head injury, infection, brain tumor or a problems at birth.  She had her first brain surgery when she was only 5 months old.  Ema is now 5 yrs old and has had 9 brain surgeries.  I asked her family how they can tell when Ema has fluid in her brain. They said whenever Ema vomits or has headache with no fever, they talk to the doctor. This means that the tube in her head is not working right. Ema and her family have to deal with a constant fear of something going wrong with Ema’s condition. For each surgery Ema has to shave her head.  Right now Ema doesn’t have a lot of hair on her head.  But hydrocephalus doesn’t change Ema’s personality at all.  She is still very hyper!

Some kids with hydrocephalus have some things that are hard for them and some things they can’t do. Ema has to be very careful with sports but she can do almost every sport except football.  So boys, imagine what it would be like if you could never play football and girls imagine if you could never have long hair.  Well, that’s just one thing that people with hydrocephalus have to go through.

Ema taught me that it is ok to be different and you don’t have to look the same as everyone else. Ema even got to travel to the Miss Tennessee Pageant and meet Miss Tennessee! With Ema’s help, I have learned that being yourself is the most important thing.  Ema has REDEFINED beauty!!  Thank you for listening to my speech and I hope you enjoyed it.

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