Is It NPH?

June 13, 2018

The husband is so excited that there might be an explanation for his decline of late, and more than excited that there may be something to reverse it. He spent hours tonight watching videos about NPH by people who’ve had it and doctors who have treated it. It started like this…

Yesterday at the doctor’s office they did the routine things, weight, BP, EKG and then Dr. Sanchez came in and started talking with him about how he was feeling, what medicines he was taking, etc… I listened as he gave the doctor a “sort of” picture of his fatigue, discomfort, etc… but there came a spot where I had to tell the doctor that it was worse than what he was hearing. The husband doesn’t take walks, sleeps whenever he’s not moving, has no energy and all that.

After discussing sleep apnea and other possible causes of the complaints, the doctor asked me “Does he shuffle when he walks?” And of course, he does – like a woman nine months pregnant. Well, then he asked a couple of other questions and Dennis told him about his memory problems, and his urinary urgency, etc… and the doc said “You’ve got NPH.” I had never heard of it. It’s very interesting. And this doc knew a lot about it, even though it’s not very common, because his father had experienced it and been treated successfully.

NPH stands for normal pressure hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus that we usually see is with babies who have the large head because of the excess fluid around and in their brain. But something like that happens with some adults too, usually people over 60. The treatment for this, no matter who has it, is to place a shunt to take the fluid away so it doesn’t cause pressure on the brain. The three outstanding symptoms that almost everyone has are the shuffle walk, the memory loss, and the urinary problems. The test for it is a spinal tap. They remove some fluid and often the shuffle walk is gone. They compare the walking ability before and after and see if it improves. Isn’t that strange?

The doctor also wanted routine lab work, which we are both having done tomorrow, since I also have some ordered for my yearly physical. He will also get an echocardiogram and will have to make an appointment with his primary medical doctor. He has appointments with the dermatologist and the dentist next week so we are going to be busy going to doctors (not to mention I might have to go with Scottie for her procedure too).

We don’t know for sure that it’s NPH, but the husband has such a strong feeling that he does that he will be really disappointed if he doesn’t. If he does, this is pretty important. We’ve been feeling bad and a bit scared at how rapidly things have changed for him and praying for the wisdom and help to change things. We always thought it had more to do with his weight and inability to lose but maybe we’re being shown something we had never thought of or known about. Kind of exciting, except for the fact that there is also quite a risk with brain surgery.

There’s a lot online about NPH so if you want to follow along with us and be knowledgeable, just google it and you’ll find lots of info. I’ve been happy about the way Dennis and I have worked together lately, to manage the move, the changes in health, the prospect of retirement and lower income – we have a three way talk with God every morning about everything we can think about. Just saying that we pray doesn’t adequately describe it. It has been so good for us. We don’t know what the path ahead holds for us but as long as God is marking out the way, we are not afraid to follow.


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