Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lumbar Punctures Can Bite Me

Last Wednesday I went in to the hospital for a scheduled lumbar puncture. My doctor said it really wasn't going to be a big deal, worse case I might get a headache... Either she was lying or has no idea.

The evening I got home from having the procedure I started getting a spinal headache (caused by a change in the pressure in my brain due to slow leaking spinal fluid). I could make it go away by lying down, so I spent that night and most of Thursday sleeping in bed (and snuggling with my puppy).

By Friday the headache was horrific when I stood or sat up, so I called the hospital and asked if I could come in for a blood patch (a follow up procedure where your own blood is injected into the epidural space around your spine - with the aim to seal up the leak and fix the spinal headache). Because I wasn't able to sit up without severe pain they hospital asked me to come in by ambulance through emergency.

When I was lying down I felt perfectly good, so whist we were waiting for the ambulance my sister helped me do my hair and make-up. Apart from the spinal headache I was a-ok.

Once I got to hospital they put a drip in for dehydration and then went about testing me for other things before agreeing that I had a spinal headache and doing the blood patch.

My Mum arrived just after the patch, which was a good thing because I was really emotional by then and struggling to hold back the tears. The original lumbar puncture hadn't hurt at all, but the patch felt a bit more painful.

We were in good spirits though, because the doctors were sure that the patch had worked. I spent the next four hours in the hospital lying flat in my bed, chatting with my Mum and playing hangman with my sister (via the internet).

After 4 hours was up they gave me some sandwiches to eat and I then was allowed to get up and go to the bathroom. I felt dizzy and nauseous, but I figured it was just because I had been lying down for the last 36 hours. The doctor came by and decided to keep me overnight for observation, but after running through my insurance card we found out that it wouldn't be covered (I was at a private hospital and I have only just re-joined my health-fund). The doctor (who was the nicest man on the planet) assured me that he was just keeping me in as a precaution so we decided to go home rather than pay the $2000 for an overnight stay.

While I was waiting for Mum to bring the car around I started to get really, really dizzy and nauseous. I ducked back in to the nurses station to triple check with them if I should be going home and they said I would be fine. The loaded me up with anti-nausea wafers and half a dozen sick bags and sent me on my way.

The ride home from the hospital was horrific. I was lying flat in the front passenger seat, to try and stop the headache that had come back, but was also fighting off wave after wave of nausea. We made it about halfway home before I started throwing up. It wasn't pretty. I actually threw up so hard that I wet my pants (bet you really wanted to know that huh!). It also triggered even more headaches, at the time I thought I had pulled something in my neck, but later a doctor explained that the throwing up would have messed further with the pressure in my brain. Mum and I decided to keep going home and get me into bed. It would have been a horrible car ride for my Mum, the car smelt like vomit and I was sobbing for most of the way home.

I took the painkillers and nausea wafers that the hospital had given me when I got home and thankfully slept through the night.

The next day I was still in a really bad way so about lunchtime we decided to call for another ambulance (I still couldn't sit up) and go back to the hospital. Only this time we went to a public hospital in case I needed to be admitted (ha - in Queensland, shows how delirious I was - our public health system is in seriously bad shape!!)

The beauty of going there by ambulance meant that I was seen immediately. They put me back on a drip and dosed me up on Maxalon (for the nausea), something else for the dizziness and morphine for the intense head pain. After about half an hour I was moved to my own room and I managed to have the best 15 minute sleep I have ever had in my life.

A couple of doctors came in and offered their thoughts. Originally the wanted to send me back to Holy Spirit, but I explained that I was still within insurance waiting periods and I vetoed that idea. They then sent down an anesthetist who wanted to do another blood patch, but I really wasn't keen on another spinal procedure.

In the end they dosed me up on more pain killers, gave me a few days worth to take with me and sent me home. I pushed hard for them to admit me, but the doctor said that they didn't have enough beds to take patients that weren't critical. I totally get that, but it made me wish like crazy I had already served the waiting periods on my private insurance. I was so frightened about getting back in the car to go home and going through the same thing that I had the previous night.

In the end (thanks to the pain killers, anti-nausea meds and being re-hydrated I was fine in the car.

I spent the next couple of days dosed up and in bed recovering. And now today, I am finally out of bed, walking around, eating like a normal person and feeling human again.

It was quite the ordeal and I am so happy to be out the other side of it.

I have to say an absolute huge thank you to my family. My sister spent five days (including her birthday) looking after me, as well as Max and her two girls. My Mum, who kept my house clean, sat with me for hours on end in the  hospital, looked after Max and me and didn't blink when I threw up in her car. Sean, who was working through a brand launch at work, yet still came and sat with me at the hospital and gave me the love and support I needed. My Dad, for dropping around and visiting me as often as he could. Aggie, my Mother-in-Law for taking a few days away from her business and looking after Max and I once everyone else had gone home. A big thank you to my work as well, for sending me the most beautiful bunch of flowers.

Hopefully everything is back to normal now. I have a big few weeks coming up. I'm planning a baby shower for my BFF, my niece is turning one and I am planning on stenciling the pantry.

Stay tuned!


  1. I'm glad you're feeling better :o)

  2. Glad you are up and about again

  3. Thanks Mumma, I love you xxoo

  4. Day-um girl!

    Glad you are feeling better, but DAY-UM!

  5. OMG - how horrific! So glad everything has cleared up - families can be just awesome at times can't they? Always there in our hour of need.

  6. Wishing you a speedy recovery and good health!

  7. it sounds terrible tamsyn. what an ordeal. hope you are feeling much better soon. xo.


Your comments make my day. Thank you!