Spinal Tap (from September 2012)

Lumbar Puncture

Spinal Tap

September, 2012

Spinal Tap was/is the name of a rock band.  That’s pretty much all I knew about it other than the standard pregnancy stuff.  When you have babies you learn all about spinal tap in the form of epidurals.  You learn to ask for one.

When my daughter was born, I did not get one and that was a MISTAKE.  I was in active labor for 13 hours and did not have any pain relief at all for 11 hours.  It was bad.  When I had my son, five years later, I made it clear that I wanted the epidural from my first visit to the ob/gyn.  Hell, I would have been happy to have one that lasted nine months.  I remember being a little scared when the anesthesiologist came in for the procedure. But, at that point, I didn’t really care.  I just wanted the pain to get better.

No.  What happened to me last week was nothing like an epidural.  It was a lumbar puncture to check for meningitis. The IV medication I take has a slight danger of causing meningitis and I didn’t think I had it but I wanted to err on the side of caution so I went to E fucking R on Friday night.  I had a headache, neck ache, upset stomach and fever.  It kept getting worse and the headache had really been with me all week since my last infusion.  I was also itching all over.

They ran the standard blood; urine and CT scans and things looked pretty good. The doctor came in and said that because I am immune compromised, the best way to check me for sure was to do a lumbar puncture.  It sounded scary and the thought of random infection really made me pause. But, again, I wanted to err on the side of caution.  So, once again, I said yes.  I did not even know how it was done.

The doctor came in and the nurse rolled me onto my side.  They swabbed my back with betadine solution and had me roll into a ball.  Then the doctor ‘numbed’ me in one spot. It hurt but I thought that after that I would not feel the needles. There was a feeling of pressure. The poking and pressure continued.  It went on and on. The nurse excused himself.  He looked pale. I finally asked the doctor when he was going to stop and he answered me, “I cannot draw any fluid from your spine. This is very unusual.”

“Great.” I said. “This is just another freaky thing on my freaky thing list.”

“That must frustrate you.” The doctor had obviously taken psych 101.

So after all was said and done he offered me an alternative.  He would admit me and then they could do a second lumbar puncture with fluoroscopy and it would be performed by a radiologist.  Due to being already weird, this might not be a bad idea, he said.  On the other hand, he did not think I had meningitis, so I could probably go home.

I decided to go home.

I didn’t want to ruin my kid’s birthday party. My husband was really stressed out.  I could tell he was melting.  I had to just deal with it. Really, that is just the way it is most of the time.  I have learned to ‘just deal with it.’

If I get sick enough, I will stop.  Otherwise, I had best just keep going.  It upsets those around me if I stop and look sick. I just don’t get that option.

So, today, I have a lot of back and leg pain.  Did the doctor hurt me?  I don’t know.  Did he infect me?  Who knows?  I just need to rumble on until I can rumble no more.  That’s all I know.

The end.