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Dalton Roberts

Robert Brault may have had NPH when he said, "An optimist is someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha-cha."

That's exactly the way it is with this disease: one step forward, one step back.

I almost decided against writing on it, but then I thought about how long it took me to get an accurate diagnosis and, if I can save one person from that, it will be worth it.

NPH stands for Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus and it is caused by excess fluids in the brain. No one is certain what causes the excess fluids, but many experts think a severe brain injury or years of high blood pressure can be responsible.

As a victim, you may have one or more of these symptoms: extreme fatigue, incontinence, falling, a recurring feeling of imbalance and a change in your walking gait to that of a young child learning to walk. Any one of these symptoms can ease up, then come back the next day in full force.

I went through several doctors before Dr. Charles Adams finally took an MRI of my brain and gave an accurate diagnosis. Finding a treatment plan was even more difficult. Like the old saying we've all heard, "The cure is almost as bad as the disease."

The treatment is to install a "drip" valve in the head and if the valve works right, then leave it alone. If it is not working right, they adjust it with a magnet.

By now you're bound to see that I do not have the normal diseases of mankind. I always seem to have something goofy. Remember not long ago when I had vertigo and the cause was found to be "rocks in my head, little tiny gravels in an ear tube"?

This tendency to strange diseases goes all the way back to childhood when Mother said diapers started attacking my body, and it was diagnosed as "insidious diaper leprosy." I walked around for quite a while without a diaper and I think that's how I got into politics. People already knew all about me, so what did I have to hide?

I guess that's why, after losing 20 pounds during this recent hospitalization, I wasn't even embarrassed when my pants fell to the floor while walking out of Karl's restaurant. Dr. Zigman Frogg said, "Long periods of enforced nudity in children change the basic personality structure making one oblivious to the opinions of those around them." That's where we get professional wrestlers.

I was feeling hopeful that my tendency toward silly diseases would end and my passing would be pleasant via a simple normal human disease. But I stealthily peeked into my medical file when the doctor wasn't looking and read these nerve-shattering words.

"Mr. Roberts looks like a perfectly normal human being but his X-rays show the onset of squidious of the squabdrub. A weird-looking wrinkle resembling a funny face is beginning to take shape in his liver and I sadly predict he will soon be excavating extramatter protoplasm and exteriorating on his proboscis proper."

How would you like to sleep at night with this on your mind?

Contact Dalton Roberts at