In the early hours of 10th April 2019, our sweet 11 month old Charlotte Joyce was rushed to Brisbane from Rockhampton via RFDS with suspected Salmonella Meningitis. She was placed in the NICU at Queensland Children’s Hospital where she was prepped for an MRI for the next day.  We received a phone call to come back to the NICU were we were confronted with seeing our little baby girl still anaesthetised and had several Senior Medical Professions looking at her MRI results. It showed that she had two large brain cysts and Hydrocephalus.

We were informed that Charlotte was to go back in to surgery to insert an external ventricular device as well as fenestrate the cysts. Our world was shattered but we didn’t realise that this would be the start of a very long ordeal. It was confirmed that Charlotte had indeed contracted Salmonella Meningitis (from gecko poo) and that she was up against a 3% chance of survival rate. We spent 3 1/2 months in Hospital where she endured 11 Brain surgeries to reinsert drains, fenestrate the cysts several times and then eventually insert a VP Shunt in to her Ventricles.

We were finally allowed home to Rockhampton only to last four days and Charlotte was rushed back to Brisbane via RFDS again to NICU where it was found that the cysts had filled up with fluid again. She was rushed to surgery to put a external drain directly in to the cysts to drain some fluid and had a meeting the next day with the Neurosurgeon team to discuss our next step. It was decided to go have open brain surgery where they took a 3cm circular piece of her skull off and tried to put some deep slices in to the cysts to open them up. This was successful and we were on our way home for recovery in a matter of weeks.

Charlotte had a routine MRI 6 weeks later only to find that once again the cysts were filling up with fluid. It was decided that a VP Shunt was needed to be inserted in the cysts themselves to control the fluid levels. Charlotte spent her first birthday and first Easter in hospital. All up Charlotte has had 34 General Anaesthetics, 5 external brain drains, 1 open brain surgery and 13 MRIs. We were told that Charlotte is one of a small percentage in Australia that have 2 seperate VP Shunts for 2 separate issues. Charlotte was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of all the surgeries but that hasn’t stopped her living life to the fullest.

Charlotte has just turned four and you would never know anything has happened to her apart from her scars on her belly and her two VP Shunts. She is our little Hydro Warrior!