Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spinal Taps Are Not Fun...

I realize I've been jumping around and my post Still Searching for Answers, left off in late August, early September 2010, so let me take the time to catch you up.  We saw the neurologist at the end of August, after the initial tests came back from the orthopedic.  He performed a neurological exam that vaguely resembles a sobriety test, only you're not worried because: he's not a cop, he didn't pull you over, and you haven't had any adult beverages before the appointment. He didn't say much during the exam, he uttered physical commands, I complied. He asked some questions, I answered and he concluded that it was all very perplexing.  He needed more information so he ordered additional blood tests, another MRI, a test called Evoked Potentials, and finally a SPINAL TAP.

What I learned over the nine months of poking and prodding, was that all of these tests were performed in succession to rule out one horrifying disease after another.  So while we were happy when these tests came back negative, it was like blissful ignorance, as they upped the ante with even more horrifying options, as you played Spin the Wheel of Fate, to see which dibilitating disease we will land on.

The MRI was no big deal, been there, done that, nap time in the noisy cocoon. I passed both types of evoked potentials with flying colors, a few electric shocks but relatively tame. Then came the dreaded spinal tap; this one scared me and my instincts did not fail me.

It suffices to say that the spinal tap was unsuccessful even after multiple attempts. While I lay face down on a cold metal table that could be tilted to the point of standing me upright, a team of four used an x-ray machine, a needle, and gravity to coax spinal fluid to leave my body. That was followed up with spinal fluid leaking from the two pin holes they created in my lower back within 48 hours of returning home. This leaking causes the pressure in your brain to drop, leaving you with the mother of all headaches, and the inability to hold down so much as a drop of water. 

The spinal tap was on Friday and by Tuesday we were heading back to the hospital, to the emergency room this time, to get a blood patch, a procedure that uses blood they take from your arm to seal the two leaking lumbar punctures in your lower back that would not produce the spinal fluid in the first place. This procedure also required a room full of medical professionals. Oh, and since you're already here, the doctor would like us to take some more blood for additional tests.

We later learned that those additional blood tests indicated that I had been exposed to a Lyme antibody; apparently it was also present in a previous series of tests but it seemed unusual, so the test was done a second time. Armed with another positive test result for Lyme antibodies the neurologist referred us to an infectious disease specialist and so the next leg of the journey begins...

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