Philip, 44

On August 8, 1973, I was born with an eye condition called Congenital Toxoplasmosis. My father being in the military and during one of his duty assignments at Anderson AFB, Guam is where I was born. During the 1970’s doctors did not know much about the Toxoplasmosis condition. However they now know this condition does more damage to the body than just the eyes.

Since I was born, I was dealing with the blindness in my right eye up until 1992. From this duration I was only able to see from the side (peripheral). After I graduated high school is when I lost the vision completely in the right eye.

From the months of September 1992 through April 1993, I was attending at the Orientation Center for the Blind in Albany, California. At this school I was learning how to live an independent life while being blind. At this school, I learned how to read and write Braille, use a white cane for Mobility. Learned how to cook blindfolded as if I were completely blind. And took many other courses they offered. From the months of November through March of 1993, I was having a flare up from the Toxoplasmosis to where I was having to see a medical doctor on a monthly basis for treatment.

On March 23, 1993 I went in for another doctor visit this time for an increase in eye pressure that I had never experienced before. The doctor tested the pressure and at that time, the pressure was at 35 in both eyes causing him to do more testing to find out the sudden increase in pressure. It was on that day that I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus after having a Spinal Tap procedure, I was 19 years old.

On April 1 and April 9, 1993, I had eye surgeries to attempt to lower the eye pressure by having incisions done on my optic nerves. This procedure was done at a Navy Medical Center in Oakland. By the end of April, after seven months of training, I graduated from the Center for the Blind.

On August 17, 1993 I had another doctor’s appointment this time at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. Apparently the eye procedures did not decrease the pressure enough to the doctor’s liking and scheduled a VP Shunt placement which was done on August 23, 1993. I was hospitalized for a week and I had just started the Fall Semester at Victor Valley Community College. Of course at the beginning of the semester, I had let my instructors know ahead of time that I may need to drop the courses and restart in the following spring.

In August 1997, I had another flare up from the Toxoplasmosis. From taking full time courses at Bossier Parish Community College from Fall 1995 through this time, my eye pressure had once again increased but this time only on the left eye. My eye pressure had reached 48, causing my vision to be greatly reduced to where I now only see 4 feet during the day and less than ½ foot at night.

My first actual complication with the VP shunt did not happen until December 19, 2003. A little over ten years after having the shunt placed. I was working the AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange Service) at Barksdale AFB, LA. About twenty minutes before closing time I suddenly lost my vision completely. When this event occurred, I was assisting a military family member who had just moved into the area. Having the training I had in California, I was able to find my way through the maze of furniture, appliances and other merchandise. Luckily after about fifteen minutes my vision had returned. Of course feeling a sharp pain in the back of my neck due to a ruptured tubing in my neck area.

I was hospitalized for two days in the Shreveport Hospital, I had my first revision and to this day I still have the original shunt.


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