March 25, 2007

Not my idea of a fun Saturday night

03.25.07 - Day 2 of 7 - Oh my aching head

I spent six hours in the Stanford University Hospital Emergency Room last night. At about 3:30 or so yesterday, I was struck with a horrible headache. It came out of the blue, and was excruciatingly painful. I assumed the fetal position while Matte did some research online. He found descriptions of “thunderclap headaches” and “subarachnoid hemorrhages” (SAH) and other such unpleasantries. Sure, I’ve had headaches before, but not the kind that just sort of attack like that. We decided to play it on the safe side, and went to urgent care.

The urgent care doc was a concerned because of how suddenly the headache hit. She wanted to rule out anything serious, so she sent me off to Stanford for a CT scan. There’s nothing like sitting in an ER waiting room with your skull feeling like it will explode. Across from me, a little girl cried for her mommy. In the corner, a man cursed the entire medical system. The lights were bright and dim at the same time, and things were becoming prism-y. I tried to read, but the prisms were too distracting, so I sat with my eyes closed, wishing I had earplugs.

Not too much longer after we arrived, they took me to a room. I was given a fashionable nightgown that tied in the back and a nice warm blanket. They gave me an IV of saline, and took blood and urine too. I also got hooked up to an EKG. A really cute resident came in to talk to me about my symptoms. Unfortunately, she was a she, but cute nevertheless. She was also very nice and thorough in getting my history and telling me what she had planned to figure out what was going on with my head. She said I’d have a CT scan, but sometimes a hemorrhage won’t appear on a CT, so if it showed nothing, she’d do a lumbar puncture. Lumbar puncture. Sounds so much nicer than spinal tap. Red blood cells appearing in the fluid taken from the spinal tap, would mean that there could be a hemorrhage. She also said that if the CT showed anything, I’d be admitted and possibly have surgery. I didn’t know whether to hope there was something on the CT so I could bypass the spinal tap, or not have to endure the surgery and have them stick needles into my backbone. Lovely options. But I did get some morphine, so that was nice.

THIS is spinal tapThe CT was clear so I got to experience my first lumbar puncture. My doctor asked if I’d mind if a med student helped on the procedure. I said it was fine because how else will he learn, except by doing? That, and I was wearing my cute chonies. He tried to tap, but he couldn’t get any subcranial fluid from where he stuck me, so the resident tried. She tried numerous times. I changed positions to see if that would help. I could feel pain shooting down my leg. That meant it wasn’t in the right spot. Maybe another try would work. It didn’t. Neither did the next one. Matte was holding my hand while I shivered in discomfort. The attending came in and after he tried a few times (with additional lidocaine shots to numb the pain), he finally squeezed some juice from my back. It came out clear, a good sign. The ordeal lasted about an hour (usually they take 5-10 minutes). I know it was an hour because every 15 minutes, my blood pressure cuff would tighten. I felt it tighten 4 times during the procedure. The resident and attending both apologized for taking so long, but apparently I have a stubborn spine. Who knew?

We waited for hours for the lab results. I was starving by this point, and eventually a nice nurse brought me a turkey sandwich. The labs came back normal, so the official diagnosis was migraine. I’d never had one before, but the doctor doesn’t think that I’ll have another episode. Seems this one was brought on by my taking allergy medicine on the same day I started taking a supplement that my personal trainer recommended. I won’t be taking that supplement any longer. I’d rather have my fat cells and skip the spinal taps, thankyouverymuch.

Look closedly to see the sneer on my face.We left at around 12:30 am, and looked for somewhere to get me a milkshake. Alas, Jack in the Box was cleaning their machines. So we headed down the street, to the next fast food place, and it happened to also be a Jack in the Box. They too, were cleaning their milkshake machines. ARGH. Note to self, when being discharged from Stanford, wait until 1 am so you can have an Oreo cookie milkshake on the way home.

It was definitely an adventure and I’m glad it isn’t anything serious. I also have the added bonus of finally finding time to finish the book I was reading. So, those hours at Stanford weren’t a total waste.

15 people have roominated about “Not my idea of a fun Saturday night”

  • Not my idea of a fun Saturday night…

  • Saj says:

    The picture of your lumbar puncture freaked me out! Your story freaked me out! But then again, Matte sometimes has that effect on me too…

  • I get Migraines all the time. They are Never as Serious as yours sounds like, but They Are Killer, none the less. I have had to Call Out Of Work due to them. I usually require A Very Dark Room and Quiet to ease my pain.

    So you are Not Alone!!

    Hope you are Feeling Better by now.

  • meredith says:

    Aaaack! What a horrible evening. I love that Matte is taking pics of your torture. Nothing is sacred from the blog!!

  • Humuhumu says:

    Oof! Always pass on the medical student spinal tap. Words to live by, I tell ya.

    Sounds like it would have been a miserable experience, even without the searing pain of a small nuclear bomb having gone off in your skull. Hope the pain is better.

    Next time, when the Jack in the Boxes have done you wrong, try Carl’s Jr. They have pretty good milkshakes (although I was once served one in a Starbuck’s frappuccino cup, which was unsettling).

  • Jenni says:

    Oh. My. GOD!!!! ACK! I can’t believe the Saturday night you had! I’m so glad it wasn’t anything too serious, although that migraine does sound incredibly painful. I hope your Sunday was much more low-key.

  • Alison says:

    I’m so glad it was “just a migraine.”

  • Thank god it wasn’t anything serious!! And I’m glad you got decent care at Stanford. Although you were very brave to let a med student help with a procedure!!

  • Denise says:

    What trauma! Glad to know the culprit supplement was identified.

    Was that a Jodi Picoult book?

  • Mel says:

    How horrible! How dare Jack in the Box..they should know better! Jack needs to go back in his thinking box and make a memo not to have all doing shake machine clean up at the time post bar people would be coming home! Hope you feel better.

  • music_mama says:

    Forgot to ask, what were the specific supplements and medication so that we readers may avoid such combinations in the future?

  • Em says:

    Wow..sounds very painful…what a dreadful way to spend an evening. I really hope you don’t have to go through that again!

  • Kelly says:

    Oh, you do not look happy in those photos! Ouch! If it helps any, my poor baby girl has had 4 spinal taps in her short life – all within a year. She was only a little over a year old! You were very brave!

  • kris says:

    And now you have a great hospital gown to wear out on the town! Just accessorize, baby.

    Glad you are ok. This must have been ridiculously scary.

  • Cindy says:

    Man, you almost had to hope there was something wrong if only to justify going through all that! But I’m glad there’s not.

roominate on this yourself