Don’t read this if you’re squeemish.
Spinal taps. Lumbar punctures. Whatever you want to call them. Both names make me cringe.
In 2009 I was in the hospital with some kinda flu-thing. They never quite figured out what it was, although I figured it was H1N1 and they just didn’t tell me so I wouldn’t freak out or something. (not that I would)
They ran a bazillion tests, and when I told the ER doctor I had a headache, she decided it was time for a spinal tap, to make sure I didn’t have meningitis. Oh boy.
So about an hour went by from her telling me I needed one to me actually getting it. The doctor came in and prepped my lower back, and gave me a shot of lidocaine in the area to make it sorta numb. Yeah, right.
Then I hear her ask the nurse for a spinal tap needle, and he goes “The big one?”
I hope she gave him a talkin’ to after that. Terribly unprofessional on his part.
They bent me over a table and performed the procedure. When the needle went in, it sent an electric shock down my leg and made me jump. It was really weird.
All the while, my mom and a sweet nurse lady were holding my hands. I was crying silent tears, because if I moved at all, that would be really bad.
When the worst was over, they had me lie flat on a table, and they gave me a bandaid. That’s all you get after that, a friggin’ bandaid.
A few moments after lying still, everything that just happened hit me, and I had a full-fledged panic attack. They tried to calm me down just by talking to me, but I couldn’t breathe. I sat up and I vomited on my mom’s feet. They gave me something, either xanax or vallium, I don’t remember. After that I fell asleep.
And of course, I did not have meningitis. I didn’t think I did. I know I’m a headache person, but the doctor was adamant in pursuing meningitis and I was afraid not to go along with it.
The next few days, I had some of the most horrible pain I have ever felt. When you get a spinal tap, drawing the fluid creates an air bubble in your spine, and until your body expels this air bubble, you can count on getting some ridiculous headaches.
My back muscles freaked out. I remember screaming in pain, because the fucking nurse didn’t get how to use a clock. She would always come in to give me medicine late. If she had done it on time when she was supposed to, I wouldn’t have had these lapses in pain. I hated her. She didn’t know how to administer medicine into a vein. She did it too quickly and flooded my veins and it was really painful.
Ever since then, my lower back hasn’t been right. I had to wear a lumbar brace for a couple months right after just so I could get through the day. Bending over was exhausting, and I realized I couldn’t do things like wash my face in the bathroom sink anymore. It hurt too much. To this day, my back muscles still get fatigued really easily, and I can no longer sleep on my stomach because it just feels like I’m hyper-extending my lower back.
This all happened long before I knew I had Chiari Malformation. I recently read that it is not safe for people with Chiari to have spinal taps. The change in pressure in spinal fluid can actually cause further herniation of the brain. This of course made me cringe. And it also makes me wonder about what kind of adverse effects it has had on my brain, and if it is responsible for the progression of my symptoms.