So I had a weird couple of weeks. Some of you were in on some of it and some were in the dark. So I’ll fill you in. If you don’t care, just go here. I’ve had this weird vision thing going on (not a George Bush vision thing, weirder) in which my vision almost doubles now and again or my field of vision shakes back and forth or I go to dart my eyes to the right and they don’t quite do it the right way. Last summer, I saw an opthamologist, after my optometrist said he couldn’t see anything. Neither did the opthamologist, who also had me do some blood tests to see if I had, like, scurvy or something (yargh!). Nothing came up. And since “you’re fine” is what I want to hear, I just stopped thinking about it. In fact, in the early fall, my eyes seemed to be behaving much better. But then it all came back, with more, and it is driving me nuts. So I brought it up with my GP again, who could still detect nothing, and he sent me to a neurologist.
The neurologist detected that when he had me look up-down-up-down really fast, that my left eye didn’t quiiiite keep up and would end up just a bit off from the right. Not a team player. He said he had no idea what was causing it, though, and trundled me off for an MRI. That was on Thursday the 5th. I was supposed to get my wisdom teeth out the following Monday. Friday, I started to feel like I had a cannonball in my stomach. I thought it must be stress about the teeth and the envelope with BRAIN on it that was on top of my highest bookcase. I asked the oral surgeon to call me in a Xanax script and, bless him, he did. That took the edge off the gnawing anxiety, but the ball was still there and I realized that I was just sick. So I cancelled the oral surgery. Hosted Ben’s party (see below) while feeling like crap. I was supposed to go in to discuss the MRI results on Tuesday, but on Monday, he called to say there was “something” on the MRI and they needed me to go back for the contrast MRI. Comedian Mike Birbiglia has a bit in which he says when a doctor sees “something” on the films it’s never good news. “We see something on the Xrays…and it’s tickets to the Yankees game!” Doc had made an appt for me to go back the next morning. Which is fast. And fast is scary. I took a Xanax.
I took a half of one before the MRI. They injected me with poison and stuck me in the tube and banged anvils in my ears for 30 min while I made up limericks about my children. A sample:
There once was a young girl named Lily
Who found that she felt rather chilly
To warm up her feet
She turned up the heat
‘Cause putting on shoes would be silly.
Thanks folks, I’ll be in this tube all half hour! Of course, they then handed me these films as well, but at least they didn’t say BRAIN on them. Back in next day to doc. He says that radiology thinks that the “something” from the first film was nothing, but that my optic nerve looks like it might be inflamed. What causes that? Well…MS can cause that, so we schedule a spinal tap. When I moaned loudly, he assured me that it really wasn’t that bad, that they’d do it right in the office, and it would take maybe 15 min. whimper.
Thursday, Steve drove me in for the tap. Yes, all possible jokes about the movie were made. The room in which they put me had this ugly print of labrador puppies playing with duck decoys. That struck me as so sad. “Look! Puppies! Happy time! No needle in YOUR spine!” Also, it was really badly done. In truth, the actual lumbar puncture was nothing. A twinge when he injected the anesthetic and then, when he took the puncture needle out, I had a twitch that felt like a hand buzzer was under my butt. I had done all the reading I could bear and learned that the jury is out on how much, if any good it does to stay laying down after the puncture, but it couldn’t HURT, so I laid down. They told me, and I read, that you take it easy that day, stay in bed, and then you’re fine. Off you trot, just don’t lift heavy stuff for one more day.
Friday morning, I got up and took the kids to school. Started to do car line and felt…odd. So I went home. I had kind of a twingey, zappy feeling in my head. So I went back to bed. Stayed laying down. Now, while this is all going on, I’m fighting a horrid sinus infection. I could just feel that my skull was packed tight with boogers. I was taking an antibiotic, hoping to kill it. Also? Knotball still in my stomach and I could barely eat anything. I’d had like 3 pieces of toast with peanut butter all week. I stayed in bed all Friday. My head hurt when I got up, but it had been hurting laying down, too, b/c my sinuses were killing me. Saturday, my mom came to visit and I still needed to lay down. I felt weak (from lack of food, most likely) and just…wrong. Saturday night, the headache was bad. Steve called the doc and he said I should go get the blood patch.
Briefly: The lumbar puncture headache is caused when the wee hole in your spinal nerve column thing (that’s the Latin) doesn’t heal quickly enough and you leak spinal fluid. Yes, brain juice on the mattress. The cure is to get a “blood patch,” possible the worst medical phrase since “dry socket.” This procedure requires an anesthesiologist who will take blood from the arm and inject it in between the layers of the punctured thingy. The blood clots, the brain juice stops dripping.
Because it is a procedure that needs clotting, you cannot have had aspirin or ibuprofen that day. I had just had a rather massive dose, because the Tylenol wasn’t cutting it. So I thought, maybe this is just sinus? and sent STeve to get a neti pot. I have resisted the neti pot for I haaaate anything going in my nose. I don’t swim. I don’t use nasal spray. Bleh. Out-only orifice. But my head was owie. So we gave it a go, and had many laughs and–as you know–laughter is the best medicine and I started to feel a bit better.
Woke up Sunday, went to pee, nearly died. Horrible, horrible pain. Felt like my brain was trying to slide backwards out of my skull. I quickly retreated inside to the nice place and Steve had to take over. He got the kids farmed out and took me to the emergency room. The light was killing me, so I had a shirt over my head the whole time. They gave me a liter of saline with caffeine, painkillers, and anti-nausea drugs. I remember very little of it, which is good, since a DOA kid came in and Steve had to listen to the family come in and grieve. Ugh. After a couple hours, I was feeling better and they sent me away with a script for Vicodin and some anti nausea drug. Woo! i’m Dr. House! But the Vicodin was not really cutting it. I was still in pain. just not as much.
Monday morning, we called the neurologist and he said “go get the blood patch.” We went in to the surgical center that afternoon. 3 natural births and I finally ended up with an epidural. Like the lumbar puncture, it really wasn’t a big deal. When he took out the needle, he said, “So, headache gone?” I still had the sinus issues, so I said no and they gave me a coke (first soda I’d had in a year. Blech). Another anesthesiologist came in and said “So your head still hurts?” and I described it to him and he said “Yeah, that’s sinuses. But did you have the feeling like your brain was being pulled backward out of your head?” Yes! and that’s gone! “Okay, that was the lumbar puncture headache.” And it WAS gone! As was the feeling that something was wrong. Magical. That must be the most gratifying procedure in the world. People come in, in blinding pain, scared to death, and in 15 min, they leave upright and happy.
I was still really weak and the knotball was still in my gut and my sinuses still hurt. But it gradually all went away and I am fine now. Fully back to normal. Except that my eyes are still utterly weird. All that hell was just the test. Gr. I have heard nothing about the tap results, wand was told it is a “no news is good news” situation. It’s been about a week since they should have had the results, so I’m assuming good. I had a visual evoked response test at the hosptial today. It just involved electrodes on my head and staring at a test pattern. No needles. I have an appt. on the 9th to discuss it all and figure out what comes next. But I feel fine, and I’m glad to be out of bed.