When I Grow Up

By Michelle Emick Ronholm

We all have childhood dreams and aspirations.  What kid hasn’t pretended to be ballet dancer, a gymnast, a doctor, a firefighter or a professional baseball player?  Sometimes those dreams become reality; often we evolve those dreams into fulfilling and happy lives.  What most kids don’t think about as they’re growing up is health care.  But as children with hydrocephalus enter their teen and early adult years, they have to be thinking very carefully about their health care.
Hal Rekate, MD, Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute and HA Medical Advisory Board Member conducted a session at the 11th National Conference on Hydrocephalus that focused on how young people can effectively make the transition from pediatric care to adult care.

Dr. Rekate’s presentation dove deeply into the changing lifestyle of young adults dealing with hydrocephalus.  He pointed out that as children, patients have a team of people supporting them, from their pediatrician to their surgeon to their parents to their schools.  As they transition from childhood to adulthood that team changes dramatically. Now primary team members are the patient and the surgeon.  With this change comes increased responsibility for the adult with hydrocephalus.

Dr. Rekate provided some helpful tips for making the transition from child to adult care, including:

• Understanding your hydrocephalus
• Knowing the details about your shunt
• Understanding your body’s reaction to shunt failure
• And, setting up a consultation with your new medical team to map out your care

Young adults with hydrocephalus often have great opportunities to lead happy, fulfilling and mostly healthy lives.  But with independence comes responsibility to do everything you can with your health care team to ensure effective hydrocephalus treatment.

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