Phantom Pseudotumor


“Manny’s brain produced fluid because it thought there was a tumor present”

When Manny was only 5 years old, a cyst in his brain ruptured, and he had surgery to insert a shunt into his brain that would drain the excess fluid. Ten years went by before Manny experienced any other symptoms. At 15, Manny’s neurologist scheduled him for a decompression surgery to address the fact that some of his brain tissue extended into his spinal canal, also known as Chiari malformation.

After the surgery all appeared normal until Manny began having migraines, nausea, and loss of appetite. One minute he was so cold that he had every blanket in the house piled on top of him and the next he was so hot that he wanted to “sit in a bucket of ice water”. Manny’s neurologist performed a spinal tap to check the pressure of the fluid in his brain, but when he inserted the needle, fluid came shooting out. This alarmed the doctors to how dangerously high the pressure in Manny’s brain was. They treated his condition by draining the fluid and putting him on medication to stop the production of fluid. Despite this, Manny started having trouble breathing. His brain wouldn’t send the signal to his body that he needed to breathe. In addition, Manny spontaneously began having seizures, sending him back to the hospital in search of answers.

Manny was finally diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri, a condition that occurs when the pressure inside of the skull increases and causes swelling of the optic nerve, which can result in vision loss. Manny’s brain was creating fluid because it thought there was a tumor present. A second shunt was placed in Manny’s lumbar to drain the excess fluid. An ophthalmologist then performed an optic nerve sheath fenestration to cut a window into the membrane of his eye that surrounds the optic nerve to allow excess cerebrospinal fluid to escape. Since then, Manny has required one shunt revision surgery due to a small hole in the equipment that kept it from working properly. Moving forward, Manny’s doctors have to keep an eye out for further shunt malfunctions.

Manny is a brave and caring individual. The two loves of his life are football and cooking. He loves cheering on his favorite team, the FSU Seminoles, to victory and testing out his culinary skills in the kitchen. Whether it’s a simple spread of game day snacks or blending ingredients for a five star meal worthy of Guy Fieri and Gordon Ramsay, Manny enjoys the challenge of whipping up a new recipe.

Manny with Chef Robert Irvine on his wish cooking

Kids Wish Network teamed up with Chef Robert Irvine to grant Manny’s wish, read all about his first time meeting Robert Irvine, and his “twice” in a lifetime wish


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