Monday, July 8, 2013

Tethered Spinal Cord

                I wanted to do a tethered spinal cord as one of the first posts I did, because my child had this syndrome. My youngest son was born with a sacral dimple. This is a tall tale sign that further examination should be done on the spine. The day of my son's birth his doctors were thorough, and found this sign. After a few months of tests going by, we were told that they recommended surgery because he has a tethered spinal cord. First thoughts that went through our heads was that we didn't want our child to have to be traumatized by a surgery at this age. After a consultation with the surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children, my wife and I had decided that surgery was really the only option. We were lead to this thought through some great explanations by his doctor. 

                So what is a tethered spinal cord? Simply, it is where the spinal cord (the cord of nerves that run along the spine) is attached to the fatty tissue (view above picture), or other part of the body. So what does this mean for my kid? Well, it means that as he grows the connection can stretch his spinal cord and cause back pain, fecal/urinary incontinence, cysts, and trouble walking. But unfortunately that is not all of what can happen. There is many things that can happen when the spinal cord stretches and straightens, you can read more at some of the sites I will source at the bottom of the post. This is what made the decision easier for us… as parents we could not let our child grow and have these complications and have this pain the rest of his life. So, from there we went ahead and had them do a surgery on him. He is now doing Very well, has fully recovered, and doesn't seem to know/mind that he has a small scar on his back. At a year old at the beginning of this month, he is walking around, making noise, and tackling his older sister. If you didn’t know any better he is a healthy child.
                When he went in for his surgery we were told that he needed to lay flat after the surgery was over so that he would not get a spinal headache. We told the nurses that he doesn't like to do this, so what would keep him from sitting up, and they kept telling us that he would either be in too much pain or be too tired from medication that he would not want to try to sit up or move. And to no surprise to us (but to the surprise of the nurses) the moment they laid him in the recovery bed he got up and crawled to the other side of the bed. Honestly, that was the hardest part for us, keeping him from sitting up causing headaches.
                So what would have happened if we did not have the surgery? Well lets go into more detail of everything than. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that run down the vertebrae in the spine. This bundle of nerves send signals back and forth between parts of the body and the brain. Since the attachment is lower in the body the stretching effects lower body functions. These areas would include, but not limited to, bladder, legs, black, and bowels. Not only could Jett, my son, have grown with back pain, weakness, numbness, and pain in the legs, bowl and bladder incontinence. He may have never learned to walk, we may never had gotten him potty trained, and then the pains would be excruciating.

Thank you Boston Children's Hospital for the use of your image and information.
Boston Children's Hospital:

Other information sources:

And an extra THANK YOU to Riley Hospital for Children and the wonderful Doctors, nurses, and other staff.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Looking Into Neuroscience

              About a week before today I had a great revelation; to become a neurologist. Before this point I didn't know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go in life, how to get anywhere. I just wanted things to fall into my lap as some things have before. So what inspired this revelation… well it is the fact that my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The pathology of this disease is in the neuroscience field; I am not of some illusion that I might cure her, or make her life better. I am wanting to do something that all great men want to do with their wives… understand what they are going through better, and this field will do exactly that. With my studies though, why not do more than just understand, why not go further and become a doctor and be able to give her second opinions (as it is not wise to treat for ethical reasons).

                So why a blog about neuroscience if I am wanting to become a neurologist? Well, shortly after deciding this, I sat down and did multiple hours of research. This research brought me a lot of interesting information. Such as I thought I would need to study for a medical degree first, and then specialize in neurology; in essence this is the path. However, before I get into medical school I must have a bachelor degree, so I thought, “Why not go with neuroscience or neurodiagnostics?” So that is my plan. I am going to get a bachelor in neuroscience, and if I am still interested in moving forward with this field and become a doctor than I can. And if not, then this degree will still open Many doors for me; but still give me a better understanding for how Courtney is feeling. But even with that plan set forth I felt like I was still missing something that I could do now. Yeah, I can start college and get basic courses out of the way, but that doesn't help me with her any. So I thought… “What about research?”… “What about just self-teaching myself this information now?” So that is where the blog comes in; I will be asking myself questions (hopefully so will others), and then I can do the research to answer those questions.

                I have already started doing my research and decided to ask the most basic question I could think of… What is Neuroscience? According to Neuroscience is the field of study encompassing the various scientific disciplines dealing with the structure, development, function, chemistry, pharmacology, and pathology of the nervous system. Wow, that “encompasses” a lot of information, but what I get out of this is, neuroscience is the science behind the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and ganglia; the good, bad and ugly of it all… how it’s made, how it function, what medicines are used on it, and the diseases that are known to effect the nervous system. Well that makes things easier to me, what about you? 

                For future posts I will be looking at new articles I find on the nervous system, new information I find, interesting questions that are brought to me either through my complex mind or of others. I will make posts about different neurological diseases, and the information I can gain about every aspect of them. I may tend to focus on Multiple Sclerosis, but will try to pursue other areas of interest as well. My posts will be once a week, guaranteed post before/on Wednesday. My next post will look into a tethered spinal cord. So please join me again next week to learn more about me, my family, and neuroscience.

Note from James: I like to use for a lot of my definitions, because out of my research I like the way this site words their definitions. However, I could not agree with the way they defined Multiple Sclorosis (As there is a lot of incorrect information out there about this disease.) It was defined as "a chronic degenerative, often episodic disease of the central nervous system marked by patchy destruction of the myelin that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers, usually appearing in young adulthood and manifested by one or more mild to severe neural and muscular impairments, as spastic weakness in one or more limbs, local sensory losses, bladder dysfunction, or visual disturbances." And for the most part this definition would have been perfect. However, "usually appearing in young adulthood" is incorrect, as it can appear at any time in someone's life. I have connections with those who have been diagnosed as children, and those that have been diagnosed as full adults. I thought about using the National Institutes of Health's definition, but that sites says the disease is, "marked by patches of hardened tissue," and to my knowledge this is incorrect as well, because it is marked by lesions not hardened tissue.

More notes: Thank you very much for reading what I have to say. I would love to hear back on anything you have to say. I am very open minded and love debates, discussions, and more. Just please remain polite.