Thursday, February 23, 2012

I didn't know what I had signed up for

When I was told by the Doctors about the Myelogram it seemed like such a simple procedure. Once I went in for the procedure it confirmed to me that it really was going to be a breeze. I laid face down on the table and had my chin propped up on a pillow. My ankles were strapped to the table for when they would tilt the table to help the contrast move up and down my spine. I was actually quite comfortable.  The Doctor and nurses were great in explaining everything to me. Step by step they would let me know what they were going to do next.

As my gown was opened up I could feel the cold air in the room on my back. The Nurse then washed my lower back 3 times in preparation for the puncture. A few sharp pricks and a slight burning sensation followed.  I could feel them sticking the needle in a few more times but before long it was really numb. The only thing I could feel now was their hands resting on my back. I was't quite sure when they were going to stick the "big" needle in and start the actual injection of the dye. Suddenly I felt some pressure in my lower back and they began to let me know that I might feel some strange sensations. I didn't want to think about what they were actually doing because the thought of having someone sticking a needle in between my vertebrae and into the membrane that surrounds my spinal cord really wasn't something I wanted to spend a lot of time contemplating. I found my self searching for something to think about. Was there a quote I could repeat, a song I could sing to myself? I thought about the words to the song "I need thee every hour", the Chorus rang over and over in my head. I felt very calm throughout the rest of the procedure. I really was more of a mental game than anything else, It wasn't really painful it was just disturbing to think about what they were actually doing.

The narrations began again from the doctors as they drew out spinal fluid in preparation to inject the contrast or dye. Before I knew it the needle was out and they began tilting the table. There were a few up and down movements and some slight discomfort as the blood rushed to my head in the downward position, but before I knew it that part was done, and they had me roll over 3 times to help with the coating process.  I was supposed to stay laying down for at least an hour after the puncture so that the "hole" could start to clog up. They wheeled me around the hospital from one place to another so they could then take the scan of the spinal cord, which was the whole reason for the procedure.  I of course was flat on my back looking at the ceiling.

Even thousands of miles away from one hospital to the next every hospital has ceilings that look the same! The issue I was having was that my eyes were trying to look around too much. Going around corners and moving without seeing what was in from of you, only what was above you, was making me a little nauseated.  After the CT scan which was a piece of cake, we went in for the Simulation that I had described before, Everything else seemed to go very well. At least I thought so.

I was told that I might get a headache after this procedure, I had no clue what a "Post-dural-puncture-headache" or PDPH was. I really had no clue as to the possible severity of the headache.  Right after the procedure I felt a little uneasy and nauseated, I went back to the apartment and took it easy, yes there was a slight headache but nothing worth noting.  The next day, everything was great! No problems or headaches throughout the day. I thought the worst was over. We even went to visit the Intrepid aircraft carrier museum.  We walked all over Manhattan and I felt fine. It was Sunday Morning that I started to feel pretty rotten.  I went to a portion of Church before heading back to lie down. I was getting worried because I was flying out that day.

Once we hit the subway to make our flight out of JFK I thought, "OK I can make it no problem" by the time we actually made it to JFK I had no idea how I was keeping my lunch down. The Nausea was unbearable. The headache was increasing to a point I had never experienced.

I have suffered from headaches ever since I hit puberty, Migraines that would render me a sobbing baby. I have learned to deal with them, getting them maybe 1-2 times a month or less and have gotten to the point that the debilitating ones happen only a few times a year. In my entire headache history, I have never,ever experienced a headache as bad as the one that was mounting.  To say that I felt like my head was in a vice was an understatement. My skull felt like it was going to burst open at any moment. Before the plane even left the terminal I had the barf bag in my lap and my head buried in my hands. I knew I was going to loose my lunch any second. The Flight was expected to last just shy of 5 hours.

When the scriptures tell us to have a constant prayer in our hearts I took that to the absolute literal meaning. I prayed non stop for the whole flight, most of my prayers consisted of just a repetitive "please, please, please" I couldn't formulate anything else in my head. It actually hurt too much to think. I didn't know how I was going to make it. With my head on my Dad's shoulder I just kept my eyes closed and tried to remain calm. The time passed so slowly, that flight felt like it was never going to end.

I could feel when the plane started to slow down and the nose dipped towards Terra Firma. I knew I wouldn't have much longer to wait. Before I knew it the wheels hit the ground and we were taxiing to our gate. It was hard to stand up because the pain got worse when I did. Once the door was open and the jetway cleared we were out the door. It was good to feel the solid ground. For the last few hours between the subway, JFK sky train, and the airplane, my body had been in constant motion, making the motion sickness worse.

Walking out of the terminal, I got on the phone to Amy and tried to summarize what had happened for the last few hours trying to sound as up beat as I could. I told her I would see her just as soon as Mom came to pick us up and get me home. I walked out into the freezing night air and across the road in front of the terminal and Saw that Mom's car was waiting for us. I was relieved that we wouldn't have to wait for anything other than the ride home. Just as I looked up I saw Amy running towards me! I was shocked. I had no clue she was with Mom ready to pick us up. I stood there on the sidewalk and just bawled. It was so good to feel her arms around me, after just a week they almost felt foreign, yet so familiar at the same time. We just held each other.

The ride home started the whole motion sickness rolling again. The headache was still the worst part of it all and it made it so much easier for the nausea to set back in. By the time we made it back to Mom and Dad's to pick up Ethan and Wade, who were with Jessica, I was again ready to die, my outsides were in and my insides were about to come out! I could barely make it into the house, when I did I collapsed on the couch with my face buried into the cushion, trying to muffle the crying. I think I really worried Ethan and Wade because they came up to me and offered their cookies to me to make me feel better.

I ended out the rest of the evening vomiting my guts out at Mom and Dad's. It was the gut wrenching kind that leave you gasping for air and your body won't let you breath because of the violent stomach contractions. It was no fun at all. We did make it back to our house that night, and Amy made me a bed right next to the safest place in the house, the toilet. I had the most painful restless night I have ever had. There wasn't anything that I took or did that would help the headache, I was told to avoid Aspirin, Aleve, Advil, and anything that could thin the blood, this could prove dangerous after the procedure. I then remembered that they had mentioned Caffeine could help.

My loving super woman of a Wife made an early AM trip to Walmart to find me some Mountain Dew and some Excedrin Migraine, both of which contained Caffeine. I couldn't take the Excedrin until we called the Doctor in New York to get approval because it also contained Aspirin. By about 5AM I was finding some relief and I was able to snooze off and on for about 2 hours.

The rest of the week was spent laying down to avoid the painful throbbing, or a combination of sitting and lying as the week progressed and I started to feel better slowly.  I was able to work from home  for a day and a half  until I was able to be up on my feet for most of the day. It had been quite the week.

Looking back at it all right now, it is easy to say "Well, I made it through". I surely don't want to go through that ever again, but as this is now an event that is in my past, and I am alive and well right now at this very moment, I now know that I can make it through horrendous things and come out on the other side, maybe hurt in someway or another but hopefully stronger because of it, knowing that with God I can do hard things.

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