Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I met Spinal Tap's bastard cousin -- the Blood Patch

On Monday, almost a full 48 hours after the lumbar puncture, a migraine - the likes of which I'd never seen - jumped on the back of my head and held on, talons dug into my eyes. By three p.m., it turned me into a blubbering fool. I wrapped up what I was doing at work and crawled into bed. My boys went out and picked up dinner. Food helped a little, and I managed to sleep the migraine away - or so I thought. Little did I know it was just lying in wait for the next time I was foolish enough to try to resume my life.

I managed to do two loads of laundry and have an important work meeting yesterday before I did the crawling into bed thing again. The pain meds were only putting the mildest dent in the pain, and I was out of my Fioricet, which I've taken in the past for headaches. I thought, "Well, I'll just get that filled and take a couple. It will be okay." I thought I would call my doctor, too, since the headache had gone on for two days. His nurse asked me a few leading questions. I said, "You don't think it's the 'spinal headache,' do you? It didn't start until Monday." She said that it could be and that she would discuss it with the doctor.

He called me back himself. We discussed the specifics of the pain. He finally said, "It certainly sounds like you have a spinal headache, which is a possible complication of the lumbar puncture. Happens in about 20% of people."

And natureally, if it's possible, it will happen to me.

His nurse arranged an appointment for me at the local outpatient surgery center. My son came home from work and drove me over there. Paul headed home from Arlington and said he would get there as soon as he could.

They took me right on back when I got there. They explained to me how it would go. They would draw 20cc of my blood in a sterile manner (um...is there another way? Leeches, maybe?) and then inject it in the dural space around where I had the original puncture. Again I was lying on my side - this time in a sterile room with five or six people coming and going. The doctor swabbed my back several times and put the drape on me. I had both arms stuck out in front of me so they could get a vein and draw some blood. They blew two veins but managed to get 15cc. The doctor had inserted a catheter into my back and when they handed him the blood, he began pushing it in. The idea is to put the blood in and have it clot over the hole.

Toward the end of the second vial (they captured this from two veins), I felt the worst pain and cramping in my right hip, just below where they were putting this. OUCH! It was the first time I flinched or said anything, which seemed to surprise the staff. After the doctor finished, I continued to have pain and cramping in my hip. They rolled me onto my back, where I waited for an hour until they were satisfied that everything was okay.

After I got home, the pain became more apparent. My migraine was completely gone, but the pain of this procedure was horrible. I had to lie in bed and relax. I will have to do much of the same today, lest I inadvertently do something to dislodge the new clot.

Spinal taps? Not bad. Blood patches? Godawful. Don't ever want to go through that again.

Well, campers, my pill is kicking in finally. I hope this post made a little bit of sense. I'm exhausted but relieved my migraine is gone. That was the worst headache so far in my life. That's saying something.

I hope you all have a wonderful day. When I am up for the day, I hope to do some fun crossword puzzles to get my day started.

Peace - D

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