I am supposed to lie down until tomorrow. When I do stand up for too long, I get a headache and throw up, so it’s a pretty strong incentive to stay put. Yesterday morning, I realized I had a post spinal tap headache, something that is supposed to be fairly uncommon when they use smaller needles, but I often fall into the exceptions category.
The headache is caused by a reduced spinal fluid pressure on the brain and spinal cord. If I don’t get better after bed rest for a few days, then I have to go back to the hospital for them to patch up the leak.
The lumbar puncture itself wasn’t bad at all. There was some initial confusion; I actually got a call from the hospital asking where I was after I checked in. I didn’t answer because of the great outdated no-phone sign in the waiting rooms showing a ’90s-style cellphone. After I saw other people using their phones, I got a photo, because I assume it meant no carphones. Once the check-in issue was cleared up, I went back and changed into my gown. New York Presbyterian definitively has the best hospital socks; also, the hospital wardrobe included pants in addition to the gown, so I say that it sartorially receives the best hospital I’ve been to. (Medically, it ranks pretty high too, along with MSKCC.)
The nurse and the fellow doing the procedure explained what would happen and then they took me to the room, and the fellow reassured me he would let me know what was happening. Once I was in the room where the procedure was being done, I laid on my stomach and they prepped my back with a marker and soap. The main doctor came in and introduced himself and consulted with the fellow about his plan. The fellow was very nice, and when I was telling him that my neuropathy felt better when I was on antibiotics, he was saying that some people had reported that happening. “There’s so much we don’t know about the body,” he said. “It’s humbling.” He said that when a friend graduated from med school, the speaker said, “Fifty percent of what you’ve just learned is wrong. And we don’t know which 50 percent it is.” I personally found it comforting, especially in light of not knowing what’s causing my neuropathy and my cancer prognosis. Something new is always being discovered.
The lidocaine is usually the worst part; luckily the stinging and burning lasts only for seconds. Beyond that, I felt just a bit a pressure when they put in the needle, but it wasn’t even as much pressure as a bone marrow biopsy. Then they filled up some vials with spinal fluid, and I was all done. I just had to wait about a half hour in the room since they were all booked and then I was free to go.
I am hoping that my leak heals up on its own by tomorrow; otherwise I may have to go in for it to get patched up. Relaxing hasn’t been too bad, but I should have read more or caught up on more TV shows. Instead I spent too much time on the Internet and too much time inside my head and got depressed. My moods have been peaks and valleys lately, and it may take some time to even out.
I will find out the results of the spinal tap next Monday. I don’t know what I want. If it finds nothing, then my neuropathy is still a mystery. But if it find something, then there is something to find, and that might not be a good thing either. Test results are always hard.