Hydrocephalus : The Faith and Science factor

Hydrocephalus : The Faith and Science factor

Can you honestly say that the circumstances surrounding the death of Travis Shumate have not affected you?  Or at the very least made you think..? 

Whether you have Hydro yourself or someone you love has it, really doesn’t matter.  I’m sure many of us have hit a level of discomfort and have even wondered “Can this happen to me or xxx?”  The fact is, no one knows. 

It has undoubtedly left the Hydro community a little shaken up and, understandably so.  (Finding out that his mom passed just a few days after him, the same week, leaves a sadness in me for this family).  

Death, no matter the circumstance, is a part of life and, we’re all going down the same path…eventually.

If I had to take anything from his death (not dismissing any other person who has died from this condition), it would be:

The power of prayer:

My post on Facebook, right before I found out he had passed, was to request prayers and good thoughts from others specifically for Travis.  I have no doubt that those who took up the call probably prayed for “an end to his suffering”.  Literally or figuratively, the results it yielded are evident, after the fact.  As a person of faith, I can fully understand this and find comfort in it.  I suppose it depends on how you choose to look at it that will give you the level of comfort or even discomfort you need or feel.

I’m open to anything and anyone else’s beliefs, no judgement.  Sure I take momentary offence to anyone dismissing the fact that I mention faith as part of my belief system.  But, I remain open to them and after digesting their theory, am open to the possibilities within the alternative.

That alternative being, the science behind the treatment option, a shunt in this case.

The science factor:

So…what if anything can scientists learn from this event?  Think about it, a shunt is made of silicone and it literally broke into pieces.  How does that happen?  Does it beg the need for a better type of shunt system?  (I’m aware there are a few – having had 2 different kinds since my diagnosis a few years ago).  Maybe the material being used is not good enough for what the body needs.  Shunts are NOT a lifetime cure (wouldn’t it be awesome if they were though?).  They CAN and DO fail at any time.

Maybe what happened to Travis is a one-off occurrence, a freak accident if you like.  But, can you in good conscience dismiss it as such?  Others have been “luckier” with their shunts lasting them years and, without the need for further surgery.

If anything, I would like to believe this has highlighted the need for a better treatment option.  ETVs don’t work for everyone, mine has worked fine for the last 8 years (fingers crossed).  However, I’m not disillusioned by this, as a matter of interest.


I would like to believe that it’s created an awareness not only in us as Hydro warriors but, in our family members too.  I know some would like to believe that their loved one has been “cured” and that they’ve seen the end of brain surgery at the last juncture point. (Yours truly included).  The truth is though, there are no guarantees and this remains a fact despite being positive or hopeful, it has nothing to do with any of that.  At the very least, it emphasises the need to remain vigilant and not be dismissive.

Whether it’s a matter of faith for you or a matter of science, I’d like to see the two working together…Pride and dignity set aside…

I cannot dismiss the power of prayer for anyone who chooses to do so.  Also, I cannot dismiss the fact that it is because of science that we even have an option like a shunt available.  Everything in life (mostly) is co-dependent on each other.

If there are any scientists reading this, who can give input, I implore you to shed some light.  As for anyone else, take from this what benefits you most…

1 Comment

  • Duncan Salloway

    February 22, 2018 at 12:55 pm Reply

    Hey Skye,
    My very first shunt i was told by my NSG exploded in my head? It was on a trip to Disneyland, so there could have been many reasons? Being Scanned at the airport, scanned at a ticket gate, the plane flight itself, he could not answer that question for me but thanks to that I have a huge indent in my forehead from
    Where it was located. Since then they have always place my shunts behind my right ear.
    Yes we all live with that question of what if? And When? My hopes is I don’t suffer like I watch my Mother and Father did. Has to be a better way?

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