Me and the Brain Doctor

I haven’t been on much since my trip to the Foothills Trail. I’ve been dealing with a personal issue that has required a few trips to the Neurologist, which I have dubbed “the Brain Doctor”.

My experience overall has been okay, however some of the tests were no fun. My most recent one has put me in the bed, or at least lying down for three days.

I mean it sounds really simple, doesn’t it? “We’re going to take some fluid out of your spine.”

Oh, okay. I’ve had blood taken from me a number of times. Big stick, a little pain, a bandaid, and it’s all over, right? How much different can a “lumbar puncture” be? Big stick, a little pain, suck it out, and bandaid, right?

Nothing could be further from the truth. If someone tells you that you need a Spinal Tap, pray they are talking about the band.

So I report to the hospital as ordered by 7am. By 930 I’m in the little outpatient room and they have started an IV (of course they have. They’re giving me saline. That’s it.)

There must be a law or something about giving someone saline through an IV, they’re always wanting to drip you full of that. I pee four times, even though I had a Slim Fast for breakfast. I guess it’s just nerves.

The doctor finally rushes in and is upset something is missing from the tray, and has me sit up on the edge of the bed. He’s prodding and poking at my back and finally brings out a huge syringe with a tiny needle. “Bee Sting” he says, and then evidently behind my back he switches out the little needle for the large-bore type typically used for blood donations, because there’s no way in hell that little needle hurts like that. He jabs my back, pushes in a little and squirts some stuff in to “numb” me. It feels like a golf ball is being shove through my vertebrae. Now he switches to the drain needle and pokes around looking to get through my vertebrae into my spinal cord, I guess. He keeps running into bone, and the pain is so intense I feel nauseous. I warn the nurse and she moves so fast I can barely register the time period between when there wasn’t a trash can under me, and the time when one was there.

I dry heave several times into the trash can and the doctor gives up. He does another really fun test where he injects Tensalon into my IV (ok, so I guess there WAS a use for it), which makes me all crampy and teary-eyed. Lots of fun, that stuff.

Then I get wheeled back into the x-ray room. No rest for the wicked, I get to have the fun of the spinal tap all over again, by a different doctor, while getting X-rayed. At least this guy does it while I’m on my stomach laying down. Although that doesn’t make him happy, so he has me turn to the side where he continues poking at me. Finally he gets his reward, patches me up, and tells me to spend the rest of the day lying down.

They send me home three hours later. Although I had no pain medicine, or anything else to make me woozy, I’m spent. I don’t even WANT to get up. The wife drives me home, and I spend the rest of the day on the couch. The next day I’m tired of watching stuff on the DVR and I try and get up and move around a bit, and even do a little cleaning up around the house. I think I started off too soon. I still have to lay down after every thirty minutes or so because of intense pain in my neck and shoulders, even my arms.

Friday, I get up and try going to work. I get there early, and by the time 8:30 rolls around I’m in terrible agony. I go see my doctor, who tells me (thank goodness) it doesn’t seem like an infection or a leak in my spine, but it IS related. He gives me some pills and instructions to drink a gallon of fluid a day, and rest.

I start adding up how much a gallon a day is. It’s a 20 ounce Gatorade bottle every hour for like the rest of the day, not counting what I plan to sleep off. I barely manage to drive home. Everything above my shoulder blades is screaming in pain, My back, my arms, my hands (which can’t decide whether they want to tingle or be numb, so they take turns), my neck, even my eyes. I get home and take my pills, one of which is Flexiril, which the doc says I cannot take and work. I see why.

This is the stuff the aliens give you when they probe you. An hour after I take it, I can’t stay awake any more. Three hours later, I’m up and still barely conscious. I spend the day on the conch again, sometimes with a heating pad under me, and sometimes without. I take another pill when I’m allowed, and I’m gone again. Around 11:00pm I’m in bed, after having slept most of the day away.

It doesn’t matter, I’m sleeping some more, partially because it just feels so good to lay down, and partially because the damn pills have left me punch drunk. I can’t imagine going through life like this, and know that it will pass sooner or later. I do my best to drink my fluids. I’ve never peed so much in my life. It comes out clear after a while, I can’t even tell I’ve peed in the toilet.

Unfortunately by Sunday afternoon I’m no better, and I call the hospital, fearing the worst. “Oh just come in tomorrow morning,” they say. “We’ll take some blood from your arm, and squirt it into your back. That should fix it.

Great, they’re using my blood as a form of “Fix-A-Flat” on my back. That sounds really, really gross. I’m anxiously awaiting THIS little gem of fun and frivolity.