Update September 15, 2017:
So my spinal tap was on the 13th, and it went really, really well! They gave me Valium and Demerol before the procedure, which was really nice, and then an extremely smart and very funny doctor came in and explained the procedure in-depth because I mentioned I like to understand things. Turns out that the information you find on spinal taps on the internet is fairly outdated, at least for my city’s hospital. (My city is very tech-y, so we get a lot of cool stuff, medical and otherwise.)
He explained that I don’t have to move around and the actual duration of having the needle in my spine can be anywhere from a few minutes to about fifteen minutes. They numbed the area with lidocaine (which was really the most objectively painful part, and it wasn’t that bad) and then used an X-Ray to look at my spine and find the gaps in my vertebrae that they’ll insert the needle through, using the X-Ray to guide the needle. They made sure to set it up so I could watch the X-Ray on the monitor. I wound up not watching because I was laying (very comfortably) on my stomach and had my head on a fluffy pillow.
As soon as he put the needle in, however, I felt super weird. There was pressure and a little bit of a sharp stick (very minor compared to the shots of lidocaine and Demerol), and I guess that got into my head without me realizing it. I felt unbelievably lightheaded, my legs felt very weird, and I got extremely nauseated. The nice doctor from earlier (who didn’t perform the actual procedure yet I’m pretty sure he was the superior of the guy who did) held my hand, patted my head, and got me wet washcloths as he talked me through it. He told me that I was hyperventilating (which I didn’t think I was, but I was very out of it) and that was causing the weirdness. What was really cool was that they changed the angle of the table I was on to raise my upper-half and lower my legs so that my legs would have better bloodflow and therefore oxygen. It worked.
The needle was in my spine for maybe five minutes, and they kept me very much informed of how long it would take. They were also super understanding when I kept mumbled “Hurry” into my pillow, haha. As soon as the needle was pulled out, I felt better. In about two minutes, I was completely back to normal and honestly felt pretty great (that was the Demerol, I think).
They took me back to my “room” – it was more of an alcove with a curtain and a TV – where my mom was waiting. I had to lie flat on my back for an hour to apply pressure to where they inserted the needle (which was a 22 gauge, by the way, so not too big). They had me drink a lot of sweet tea (because I’m in the South) to replenish my fluids and then made sure I could use the bathroom before I left. They gave me instructions to drink a lot and move very little and that my family had to treat me like a queen. They wheeled me out to my mom’s car who then picked up some Mexican food for me. Aside from those five minutes with the needle in my spine, it was actually a pretty good day.
I didn’t get a headache or nausea, and the reason for that has to do with how they performed the spinal tap. Because they used an X-Ray, they were able to be far more precise, which allowed them to use a smaller needle and a more comfortable position for the patient (me). Using a smaller needle meant that I didn’t have to lie on my back for quite so long as people had to in the past because less pressure needed to be applied to keep the spine from leaking. A spinal leak is generally what causes the headaches and nausea after a spinal tap, and while it’s not serious, it’s something that does need to be fixed.
They explained all this and more to me before the procedure, and I thought it was fascinating. I’m not sure if other places are doing spinal taps like this, but this should hopefully become the new standard. I had minimal pain afterwards, just a little soreness the next day that has already passed. Really, all that’s going on is that I still feel a little out of it, but that might just be because of the weather.
Anyway, we don’t have the results yet, but we should have them early next week. I might check back in when I get them or I might wait until after my surgery on the 20th. These updates are so long, I feel weird writing so much when it’s not about my game.