After getting a spinal tap, I was home resting. The day after I came home from the hospital, my head started to hurt while I was out with my parents. I took some Excedrin and told them I needed to go home and lay down.
Laying down made my headache go away, so I was worried that I had “the” headache that often comes after a spinal tap. If spinal fluid continues to leak from the hole that was created by the large needle, you will get a massive headache unless you go get a blood patch. To do that, doctors take your blood and put the needle back into your spine, and push the blood in. The blood seals the hole and the headache goes away instantly.
It was Sunday, and I convinced myself that I didn’t have “the” headache; it was just a headache. The hospital that did my spinal tap stuck my spine ten times because they couldn’t get the correct spot. They also don’t have someone working the guiding machine on weekends. I did not want to go through another stabbing fest. I thought about going to another hospital and getting the blood patch, but I just wanted my back left alone. I could sometimes stand or sit up for an hour, so I figured it was just a regular headache.
The following day was New Year’s Eve. My doctor put in an order to get a CT scan of my head to make sure there wasn’t a mass causing the pressure from behind my eyes. I went to the clinic, and it went pretty quickly. Then I drove to Nashville. It’s five hours away from Lake Saint Louis and I was meeting friends to celebrate the New Year. Unfortunately, my headache continued to worsen because I had to sit up in the car to drive.
I was taking a lot of Excedrin, which I knew wasn’t good for me. But I didn’t think I had an option. The pain and pressure in my head became unbearable and I kept trying to squeeze it because that made it feel slightly better. I pulled over for some gas and grabbed a shirt from the back of my car. I tied it around my head as tight as I could so the pressure would be against my head. I looked like a maniac, but I just wanted to make it to Nashville.
I arrived in the evening, and my friend Lindy and her boyfriend Rusty were already at the Airbnb. We rented a two-bedroom house for two days. Lindy and her boyfriend showed up around check-in time. My cousin Misty and her boyfriend Dan also arrived shortly before I got there.
I walked into the house, met their boyfriends, and laid down on the couch. I explained to them that the Excedrin was making me shake, and my head was pounding. Misty got me a wrap that she had brought for her hair, and I put it on my head, which helped with the pressure. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be all peppy and excited. I laid on the couch while they sat at the table. Thankfully, it was a small house, so the kitchen table was right next to the couch. I tried my best to be engaging.
They asked if I needed to go to the hospital to get the blood patch. I said no because sometimes I could go a couple of hours without it hurting too bad, and online it said the headache would eventually go away if you don’t get the blood patch….it just takes two weeks.
We ordered pizza, took showers, and got ready to go out. After laying down for a couple of hours, I figured I would be ok to go out for a few hours. My head was hurting, but it was tolerable. We took an Uber to a brewery downtown that had a small concert in their big warehouse.
Lindy and I were best friends all through high school and college and were college roommates. After school, she moved to Tennessee for a job and has lived in Jackson ever since. She was now a nurse working at a hospital. She had just started to date Rusty, so they were still getting to know each other.
Misty is my cousin and grew up in Pennsylvania. When I was 18 years old, she stayed with us for a while, and we became best friends. For the next two decades, we stayed close, always emailing and calling when we could. We’ve pretty much never lived in the same city. She’s lived in Pennsylvania, Utah, Kansas City, and was now living in Atlanta, where she is a teacher. Her boyfriend lived in Chicago, and it was my first time meeting him.
We all agreed to meet in Nashville because it was a drivable distance for each of us. I was excited to catch up with them and also to learn more about their boyfriends. However, the concert was too loud, and we couldn’t talk, so we decided to go to the downtown area.
We jumped into an Uber, but the traffic was pretty bad. It was getting close to midnight, and none of us wanted to celebrate the New Year in an Uber. We were dropped off in the main area with all the bars. The street was packed, and each bar seemed very crowded. Some were still letting people inside, but we couldn’t decide which bar seemed the best.
Finally, we just picked a bar that was only half full. We jumped inside and ordered drinks, and grabbed a table. The clock struck midnight while we waited for drinks, and everyone gave kisses to their significant other – except for me because I had no significant other.
We ordered some food and were able to talk at the table. It was a great time laughing and catching up with each other. The bar was closing around 1:00 am, so we left and walked around the streets, people watching and enjoying all of the country music and cowboy hats. Nashville is lively, full of live music, and is a classic country city.
After walking around for a while and not finding another place that we wanted to go inside, we requested an Uber and went back to the Airbnb. My headache was coming back full force, and I was starting to feel sick to my stomach.
I tried to sleep with my feet hanging off of the hard futon in the living room. In the morning, they all came to join me. I was afraid to sit up because of the headache. I told them I needed to just lay down that day. They were so sweet and stayed with me.
Misty and Dan went out and picked up a delicious breakfast. Afterward, we debated how to spend the day. I felt bad because I couldn’t do anything. But we realized we all just wanted to hang out anyway and it was cold and raining outside. Misty and Dan snuggled up on the other futon while Lindy and Rusty grabbed a foam mattress pad we found in the closet and put it on the living room floor. They snuggled up and it felt like we were having a slumber party.
We had a great time hanging out and even took naps in the afternoon. At dinner time, we decided to go out somewhere just to get out of the house. We found a small dive bar with darts and stayed there for a bit. I started to feel sick again and was burning up, so I sat outside in the back at one of the tables. There weren’t heat lamps, so nobody was out there except for me. I was so hot; the cold felt good to me. Misty and Dan joined me outside until it was too cold for us.
We picked up food and ate back at the house. The next morning, Misty and Dan took off early because they had a long drive. I went to lunch with Lindy and Rusty at Waffle House and then hit the road.
When I got back to Missouri, I laid down and stayed that way for several days. It was extremely frustrating. I felt ok when I was lying flat. But as soon as I would get up for more than 20 minutes, the headache came back. I took Excedrin and hoped that rest would cure it. I kept figuring it would go away soon. It had already been a week since the spinal tap, and according to Google, it would go away in two weeks.
Once it had been a week, I went to my sister’s Chiropractor’s office to get a massage from a massage therapist that also does energy work. When I arrived, I told Jackie I needed to lay down because the 20-minute drive made my headache return. She said she would focus mostly on energy work.
She barely touched me throughout the whole massage. I told myself that there was no way the headache would go away, and I couldn’t keep living this way. I planned on going to the hospital after the massage to get the blood patch.
When I got up from the table, my headache was gone. Normally, it was much better after laying down for a while, but this time it felt completely gone. I was skeptical and was sure it would come back. My sister just finished for the day and asked if I wanted to get dinner. I told her, ok, but if the headache came back, I’d have to go home.
My sister Amy and I went to a Greek restaurant and had some great sister bonding time. After dinner, I continued to be upright and didn’t get the headache! I couldn’t believe it. Whatever Jackie did worked. The headache never returned. The next day I was even able to get a light workout in.
Looking back, I wish I had just gotten the blood patch the day after the spinal tap when the headache started to appear. I was reluctant to think it was the massive headache because friends told me they’ve had it after a spinal tap and couldn’t even walk to the bathroom because it was so bad.
I think because I laid down so much the day of the spinal tap, it made the leak better, but it wasn’t healed. I also know I have a high pain tolerance, and I’m stubborn. I didn’t want to ruin New Year’s Eve. But I was in an immense amount of pain and could barely function. I also took way too much Excedrin. A word of advice: get the blood patch right away if you get a headache after a spinal tap.
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