Spinal Taps: The Ins & Outs and What I Wish I Had Done Differently

28073111442_2970a7072b_bThe first thing that struck me when I saw this photo was, “Wow!  The spine sure does resemble a rather scary-looking roller coaster ride!”


My oldest daughter, Nicole, and I went to Hershey Park a few years ago.  I had not been to an amusement park in ages!   I had wanted to ride the Comet but the line was so long that we decided to try something else.  We headed for the Lightening Racer, a dueling roller coaster.  Nicole talked me into doing the front car and so I begrudgingly followed her to it.  At the top of the first drop all I could think was, “We’re going to die!”  We didn’t.  After that we tried an inverted one in which we ended up being less than thrilled with.
Nicole spotted another coaster, the Storm Runner, from afar, “Let’s try that one!” Storm_Runner_Loop
I grabbed her arm and pulled her to a spot near the beginning of the ride, “Let’s see what it’s like first!”
She agreed and so we watched….. we watched that thing rocket at 72 mph (116 km/hr) out of the station and immediately made a 150 ft (46 m) climb where it rolls before plummeting to the next hill.  We just looked at each other, mouths gaping open and simultaneously announced, “I don’t think so!”
That day pretty much cured me of wanting to go to another amusement park….. gettin’ too old for this!  LOL!  Incidentally the rides that look like spines could possibly hurt your spine, but that’s a whole other post!

     Due to medical issues recently, my neurologist opted to give me a spinal tap.   I asked questions in the office and just got told to drink plenty  of caffeine and they will tell me more when I went in.  I learned a lot when I went in.    For instance, did you know the brain replenishes it’s spinal fluid supply?


I had been dreading this procedure because, when Lexi was born, I was scheduled for my third c-section.  As they were prepping me for the surgery, an intern came in and insisted that he be the one to insert the needle for the epidural/spinal block.  I didn’t know what to say.  I assumed he knew somewhat how to do it and he was there to learn so I may as well be nice and let him do it.


He kept missing!  They ended up putting me under and when I woke up I begged to get out of bed because my back hurt so much!  When the nurse saw my back, she was horrified.  It looked like a pin cushion.


Needless to say, the spinal tap already had one point against it. (Pun intended)

     We got into the hospital to the unit and we had a very nice attendant who proceeded to dispel my fears by explaining the procedure emphasizing the words SMALL NEEDLE and how it was different from an epidural or spinal block.  I nodded, not quite believing him and yet somewhat relieved.  I told him I could take some pain.  I was a cancer survivor.

   I got wheeled down to a room where they had me roll on my stomach over top of a rolled blanket so that my back arched.  I have to admit this is much more comfortable that sitting or lying on my side.  They also mentioned smaller needle but the  stuff to numb me burned.  I dealt with that but, as they pressed a needle into my spine, I heard words that made me cringe, “I think we need a longer needle!”

     They removed the shorter needle and started inserting the larger one and it hurt!  I was trying not to moan, but I did.  I started feeling nauseous, diaphoretic and then lightheaded.  I recognized the signs as the ones that present themselves before I passed out.  I did not feel good at all!  And as they put a tremendous amount of pressure, I realized I was holding my breath.  I started making myself do deep breathing to fight off fainting.  I continued to do that until they announced they were finished.

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     They sent me home after awhile, but my fun was not over.  I was a good girl and hung out on the lounge chair but till Friday afternoon a very bad headache had settled into my head and would not go away.  I couldn’t get a hold of anyone from the hospital so I called my family doctor and got a heavy painkiller.  I finally got a hold of the hospital on Friday where a nurse told me they had to wait 48 hours after my spinal tap to do a patch which pushed it till Saturday. Then on Saturday the anesthesiologist called and told me he couldn’t get me back in until Monday, so I was dealing with the monster headache the entire weekend.  It wasn’t so bad if I could stay laying or reclined but having to sit or stand was torture.


     So now I sit reclined in my lounge chair typing this up… gotta soon change positions.

     But if I had to do it again?


I would do it at the beginning of the week and ask for three days off rather than having to call in sick because the hospital kept sending me mixed signals and weren’t up front with me to begin with.

And tomorrow?  I would appreciate prayer that I could get in EARLY tomorrow and it would fix the headache because I cannot see trying to work with my head feeling like it should explode.

Yes, there is pain  but I’ve had worse. If you must go get one, call around and push for answers.  Don’t let it be one surprise after another. These headaches are not fun and this is probably one of the worst I have ever had.  Be informed!  Be proactive!  Be pain free!


And don’t forget that cup of caffeine!



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