(not) not my dissertation

Saturday, September 10, 2005


i had a patient the other day that had been through a gauntlet of unpleasant tests before she ever even got to me for a balance assessment. she'd been through testing to rule out MS.

two days prior, she'd had a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) and had a resulting spinal headache. the pain read on her face and the worry in her eyes. she was told she couldn't get an everloving blood patch procedure until the pain had been there for five days.

five days.

seems like such an arbitrary number of days to inflict pain on a patient.

i flashed back to my own MS diagnosis over four years ago. my diagnosis was unusual, as it wasn't stretched out over several days or weeks. i went in to the emergency room on a friday morning because my hands, feet and abdomen had gone completely numb since the night before. i'd given a big presentation that thursday night and noticed, whenever i looked down at my notes, there was an electric shock that started at my neck and shot down to my heels. (lhermitte's sign. text book MS. figures.)

that friday afternoon, after i had the "probable diagnosis" and the obligatory freak out, i was told that i'd be needing a lumbar puncture.

my husband was a hero and the doctor was nice and i can only occasionally remember the pain of the needle itself.

then, within twenty minutes of the procedure, i was released. i was to come back in three hours for my second batch of MRI.

that's when they told me to go to the mall.

needless to say, the mall idea was freakishly wrong on so many fronts. i believe i should have been told to stay flat so that i wouldn't get the spinal headache that i did.

it came on the next day. it happens because you lose pressure in your cerebrospinal fluid as it is leaking out the puncture site. whenever you are upright, gravity takes hold and your brain doesn't like that pressure change too much. it's definitely a nine-out-of-ten type pain whenever you are upright.

i told my patient that i'd also gone through a lumbar puncture/spinal headache, although i didn't share more with her for fear of the news leaking back into the ears of my employers.

i feel like i should have. i know it would have given me so much courage when i was going through all of that to talk to someone, anyone my age with MS that is still working and healthy and planning for the future.

i still waiver on telling the people at work. i told a few folks but it is still largely unknown to them. i used to tell everyone because it is part of who i am.

but maybe it is not.

posted by J at 10:03 AM


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