This is My Spinal Tap

In my previous article where I talk about my diagnosis story of hemiplegic migraines, I wrote about getting Botox and the results for me. This story takes place after my initial round of Botox and what came as a result of what happened.

Getting sick after a spinal tap

In order to rule out any type of infection, it was determined I would need a spinal tap. When it came to the day of my procedure, things went extremely smooth. I was lucky, in the fact that I did not even feel the needle, the poke… anything. It wasn’t until about 2 days later that I became extremely sick; vomiting, migraine, a whole plethora of symptoms.

I rang my neurologist and explained what was going on, as I was warned that leaks can occur during spinal taps. And it did. I was told to make my way to the ER to get prepped for a blood patch.

Needing a blood patch at the ER

I soon found myself in an emergency room, filled with bags of saline, pain meds and a bucket to vomit into. Also inside that room was a team of anesthesiologists, nurses, and many other ER staff. At one point, I counted 7 doctors and staff in the room with me. This was important, as the room had to be 100% sterile in order to complete the blood patch.

A blood patch is when they take a clean sample of your blood and immediately inject it where your spinal tap was done. Sometimes, blood patches are done immediately after the spinal tap, but this was not the case for me. Had I known the possible complications, I may have actually advocated for one.

So, then came the time to sit up and be absolutely still while one doctor held me in place, another got ready to inject it and the nurses would then get the clean blood draw. This is where things start to go wrong. We went through the scenario and the steps of the procedure out loud about 3 times before actually attempting this, so everyone in the room understood the sterile process.

Receiving great care despite some hiccups

Unfortunately, it took about 5 attempts for the nurses and doctors in the room to get the procedure completely sterile, because some of the staff kept forgetting once they touched the inside of their glove to take it off, things were no longer sterile. I sat in this position for about 25 minutes and 2 failed epidurals later, I wasn’t leaning against the anesthesiologist, I was now clutching this poor man. He was kind and gentle and he talked to me through the entire process that should have been about 3 minutes total. I’m grateful for the great care I received that afternoon, despite the hiccups.

Normal test results

So what was all this for and what was the result of my original spinal tap?

Well, they needed to rule out some things like infections (meningitis, encephaly) to make sure that I didn’t have something underlying that was causing all of my issues, pain, and vomiting. The results were normal, thankfully, but we still didn’t have many answers as to why it led me into the operating room, to begin with.

Overall, spinal taps are NOT bad at all, it’s the failed epidurals that were truly the worst part of it. Spinal taps are easy and you hardly feel a thing. If you are ever to need one, consider asking for a blood patch during the procedure before getting the spinal headache that feels like your skull is cracking from the inside out.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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