The past two weeks have not been the best of my life. Monday two and a half weeks ago I got sudden and intensive headache. It was like nothing I ever had experienced before with the pain going from zero to nine in less than a second. It was very uncomfortable and I had to steady myself on the walls as I did not know what was going on. It went down to a seven quite rapidly and over the next two days it was nearly gone. Wednesday afternoon the same week I got home from work and climbed the stairs from the garage to the apartment (5 floors) rather rapidly. The headache returned from a one to a nine during the course of about ten seconds.
I called the medical advice line that we got in Sweden and they advised me to go to the emergency at the local hospital. When there they checked my neural functions like sense, sight, ability to move and speak. No problem there but as the headache had come so very sudden they wanted to make sure I did not have brain hemorrhage and thus ordered me a CT scan of the head. After a lot of waiting a doctor came to see me shortly before midnight with information that the CT scan was clean. We expected it to be clean as we had waited for several hours. Although as I came in more than 6 hours after the first headache the CT was not conclusive so they also wanted to do a lumbar puncture and check my spinal fluid for red blood cells.
When doing a lumbar puncture they insert a needle into your back at the base of the spine and extract some spinal fluid. They first put a localÂ anesthesia so you won’t feel as much when they go in with the needle. It only numbs the surface though and it feels slightly painful in a very weird way as the pain is inside you opposed to applied to the surface of you. Very weird feeling!
After the procedure that took about twenty to thirty minutes you are advised to lay on Â your back for at least one hour to reduce the chance of getting a headache which apparently was one of the side effects of the lumbar puncture as you get an under pressure in your central nervous system. The fluid was clean and the doctor prescribed some painkillers and sent me home at around 2 am.
I and Annie walked home to our apartment which is about 1 km from the hospital. We had to take it fairly slow but it was doable without problem. The next morning I woke up with a slight headache which increased if I sat or stood, so I spent the day laying in bed, preferably on my back. At the moment I thought that this was a bit of the headache that the doctor mentioned and that it would be better tomorrow. The next day when I was going to the toilet in the morning I vomited due to the intenseness of the headache. After that I called Annie and she came home from work.
Annie called the medical advice line and got the number to the non-emergency ambulance dispatch. They came about 30 minutes later and had a look at me and concluded that they didn’t want to drive me to the hospital as there as nothing emergent with me. They left me with instructions to eat and drink properly and said that the headache from the lumbar puncture could last for a few days. An hour or so later we had arranged for a authorization for Annie to collect medicine that was prescribed to me and I got to start eating my pain killers.
Life was still a misery Friday through Sunday but at least I did not vomit again when going to the toilet. Annie took care of me a lot, making food, making sure I had water to drink, talking with me and so on. Unfortunately Monday evening I ran out of the prescribed pain killers and Tuesday morning I was feeling like crap with a really bad headache again. After first talking with my health center and then the medical advice line Annie called for a sick transport to the emergency at the hospital.
They did pretty much the same thing as last time when I got there and I indeed had no impairment on my neurological abilities. The guy rolled me into a room fairly quickly and soon thereafter two neurologist students came. They asked me a lot of questions, did even more neurological tests like looking at the bottom of my eyes and checking for feeling of touch at many more places. After a while they were content and would go consult with their tutor.
Shortly thereafter the tutor came and had a brief look at me as well to determine that the students hadn’t missed something and they concluded that I was suffering from post-puncture headache. They had also seen in the blood they had taken that I was a bit dehydrated with as you probably know does not help the headache go away. She ordered a liter of infusion for me to get me hydrated again, gave me some pain killers on the spot and prescribed some new ones as well as caffeine pills. Apparently caffeine should help with this type of headache and as I neither drink coffee nor coke she prescribed pills instead. She also gave me way better instructions of how to take the pills along with normal paracetamol pills to get a good effect. It was really nice to speak with a proper neurologist as it was evident she knew more than the doctor I had seen last time I was in. She told me that the headache would for certain go away, it could take up to weeks until it’s fully gone though. She also told me that young people have a worse time and that tall people seem to suffer more than shorter. I seem to have hit the jackpot. Took a taxi home with Annie about two or three hours after we got there.
That was one week and three days ago. After one or two days I could start laying on my side in addition to my back and stomach which really felt great in the misery I lived in. I ran out of pain killers again on Monday this week but I can now make due with 1 gram of paracetamol as well as the caffeine pills. Soon a new problem arose though, I was getting increasingly bored due to the fact that I was getting better but still couldn’t leave the bed for any longer duration. Spent a lot of time reading the second book in the Game of Thrones series and started to learn French online.
Three days ago was the first time I left my apartment. Me and Annie went for a walk to the local cemetery to have a look at the blooming magnolia tree. The tree is probably about 500 meters away and we had to stop two of three times on the way there to sit on a bench and rest a bit. The day after I spent at home resting but yesterday I again ventured outside into the real world and went shopping for plants for the balcony. Annie does all the driving and I mainly follow along at my own pace so far. It went okay though so I’m feeling better. I also only took pills in the morning yesterday which seems to be enough. Today I again woke up with a headache but if I take the pills it’s gone after about 30 minutes and I think I will be able to last the whole day now.
The plan is to go back to work on Monday. Wednesday was my last day as sick listed by the doctor but as yesterday is a national holiday and today is a free day at work due to collective agreement I in effect don’t start work again until Monday. I think it will be alright to go back to work Monday. My intention now is to take it easy at least the rest of May with no excessive physical activity. After that I intend to do something physical and see if I get a headache again. If so I still got my original problem which was why I went to the emergency to start with. If so I need to go to my health center and get a referral to someone who can do more studies of what’s wrong in my head.
To sum it up, doing a Lumbar Puncture has probably been one of the worst physical experiences of my life and is nothing I would recommend to anyone unless they really, really need it.