(ĐTĐ) – A 17-year-old girl who suffered crippling migraines due to a rare brain condition has finally found relief thanks to an unusual operation.
Melissa Peacock has intracranial hypertension that causes a build up of spinal fluid in her skull which pushes down on her brain.
Now the teenager from Bradford has been cured after a tube was attached between her skull and her stomach, allowing her to digest her own brain fluid.
Melissa has suffered with the condition since she was nine. She was often left her with blurred vision as the fluid strained against her optic nerve.
Nine operations to remove the fluid failed and finally doctors decided on the more drastic solution to ease the pressure.
Medics inserting a tube into Melissa’s brain that drains the fluid straight into her stomach – where it is digested along with her dinner.
The college student said: ‘I was a bit shocked when I realised exactly what the doctors were planning on doing.
‘My friends think the fact that I digest fluid from my brain is a bit weird – but my quality of life is so much better since I had the shunt put in place, I don’t care.
‘The pain was just unbearable at times, so I agreed to go ahead with the operation.
‘Before, there were weeks at a time where I just couldn’t get out of bed because of the pain – and even when I did, I couldn’t do all the things my friends did.’
Melissa was first diagnosed with the condition after her worried mother, Carolynne, noticed her daughter was struggling to walk in a straight line.
When she began to complain of headaches and was constantly throwing up, doctors feared she may have a deadly brain tumour – but a later scan revealed the true cause of her problems.
Medics believed that a simple procedure – where they would puncture her spine and drain out excess fluid – would restore the pressure in her head to normal levels.
However, it didn’t take long for the fluid to collect again – and Melissa went through a further EIGHT painful punctures before doctors decided a more permanent solution was needed.
Pressure is taken off Melissa’s brain thanks to a tube that drains excess fluid to the stomach. It can clearly be seen in the x-ray
Medics twice attempted to attach a tube from Melissa’s lower spine to her stomach – but both times the procedures ended in disaster after the tubes shifted.
One ended up lodged in her neck, and the other stuck in her stomach – leaving her with huge water blisters on her back and stomach as fluid leaked out.
It was then that doctors decided to take the drastic step of inserting a permanent tube directly from Melissa’s brain to her stomach – and the bizarre solution has at last provided some relief for the troubled teenager.
Melissa said: ‘When I started secondary school, all my mates were going out at the weekends, but my head was so bad that I just couldn’t go.
‘It felt like I was constantly trying to see through a steamed-up window. Sometimes I’d have almost no vision at all.
‘I went to the cinema once with my friends and ended up in A&E after I tripped on the stairs – I just couldn’t see where I was going.
‘People often struggle to understand what exactly is wrong with me. Because I don’t look ill, some people think I make it all up.
‘It has been a long journey but I can start to get on with the rest of my life now.
‘I am studying photography at college now and hope I can go on to live a life that isn’t controlled by my condition.’