Harworth: Brave Maisy still smiles despite rare illness that causes her head to swell as weather changes

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Hiding under the duvet during a storm provides a safe haven for millions of children who are afraid of thunder and lightening.

A fear of storms is amongst the most common childhood phobias but for a nine-year-old Harworth girl the dramatic weather conditions have far more sinister repercussions.

Maisy Cawston suffers from a condition that can see her head swell up to twice its normal size and extreme changes in weather are amongst the catalysts for causing a flare up.

The youngster had to undergo a dangerous operation to have a shunt fitted in her head after being diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a condition that causes excess fluid on the brain – at nine months old.

The device, surgically implanted to drain fluid, proved to be life-saving for Maisy, but she has had to endure seven further operations to repair the shunt, which can get blocked.

The condition has left her with brain damage and learning difficulties, which means she is around the same developmental stage as her five-year-old brother, Tommy.

Changes in weather, different sleeping patterns and a bump to the head are just some of the things can cause the shunt to malfunction.

Maisy’s mum Lisa said: “It’s obvious very quickly if there is a problem with the shunt. If we don’t get her to hospital within less than an hour things can go downhill fast. A change in the weather can affect it, a change in seasons or a thunderstorm can cause problems due to the air pressure. If Maisy goes into a deep sleep it can cause the shunt to re-programme. Flying can also be an issue because of the air pressure changes. It can be dangerous if Maisy ever bangs her head so I have to get someone from school to call me if she has a knock.”

Despite the dangers everyday life poses for Maisy, her parents are determined to ensure she lives a normal life.

Lisa said: “We want to make things as normal as possible and make sure she does everything the average nine year old girl does- we want her to blossom, so we don’t wrap her up in cotton wool.”