oh. my. hell.
literally. the last six days have been my personal hell. I can honestly say they were the hardest six days of my life. EVER. and I'm going to blog about it because that's what I do :) I blog. and it's a long dramatic story- so skip it if you want!!
After the epidural attempts from labor turned into a spinal puncture- the anesthesiologist talked to me about the risks of a spinal headache. The needle used to place an epidural is WAY too big to be used for a spinal. So- the hole in my spinal dura would be leaking csf (cerebral spinal fluid) and would create a low pressure change in my brain and spinal cavities which often results in headaches. They can be mild to severe. He started me on tons of fluids and caffeine. I don't drink caffeine- EVER- so being on several hundred mg/day made me a little shaky.
After my labor and delivery- I was fine for a few hours. The first night I had some intense leg and hip discomfort but it could be resolved if I sat in a certain position. I also had a headache- but I'd just birthed an almost 8 pound human so that was to be expected. It felt more like a tension/stress headache and I thought for sure it was caused by being in the hunched over epidural position while dilating from a 5 to a ten.
I only stayed at the hospital 24 hours- and checked out Monday evening (I delivered sunday evening). The night we checked out I was feeling a little strange- but it was mostly a neckache. When we got home it started hurting really bad- but kent rubbed it out and I went to sleep.
Kent left to work the next morning and I was doing alright for a few hours. Around lunch time I started having such severe neck pain that I was moaning and couldn't do anything besides sit perfectly still. I texted him thinking it was severe neck muscle spasms and tension and asked him to talk to my OB about it. It was beginning to be unbearable. I decided to lie down and could find some relief. That's the number one indicator of a spinal headache. unfortunately nothing could take away the severe neck pain. It was beginning to radiate down my lower back.
I don't like pain meds. AT ALL. I've taken them once after I got my gall bladder out and stopped as soon as I realized they were making me worse. Tuesday early afternoon I texted kent and told him I HAD to have something or I might die. He brought home a combination of heavy meds (prescribed by my OB). I took them without a second thought because I NEEDED relief. and then I crashed. and went to bed. I woke up around 2 AM to feed baby Mack and once I was up and trying to feed him- I thought I was going to DIE again. My neck was about to explode. the tension and pressure were so intense I couldn't bear it. I cried out for kent to get me more meds. I could only lie flat on my stomach because it situated my neck in such a way that pressure was relieved. I crashed again.
that morning kent got the boys' lunches ready for school and told me he was heading to work at about 7:20. I crawled down the stairs at 7:45 and saw the boys out the door. they were pretty concerned.
Everything got worse from there. I tried to help metta and mack- but couldn't do much. I was prostrate on the floor in tears. at 8:30- kent texted to remind me about mack's appt at 9:30 and I told him there was no way I could make it. Strangely enough kent's morning appointments had just been cancelled because he was needed to take a transport ambulance to tokyo to pick up a patient to bring back to the base. He had an hour before he had to leave so he came home to check on me. I've never felt like this before. I don't think you can explain it unless you've felt it. I've been through A LOT of painful things. Kidney infections, five root canals, gall bladder attacks, broken bones, UTIs, CHILDBIRTH :) ,etc. This is in an entirely different league. a different type of pain. I don't really believe in ranking pain as one being harder than the other because they are all so different. But I will tell you- this is there at the top of the worst things I have ever endured.
A neighbor came over to take metta and the baby and Kent took me to the base Urgent care (ER). I was pretty pathetic. They asked me if I was in any pain. and then if I was taking any meds. ha! I rattled off 5 or 6 meds. told him my pain was at a 10. and then I asked to lay down on a bed. that is the one beautiful thing about the spinal headache. I could alleviate much of the pain if I was flat. they also gave me some more meds- although I don't think they did anything to help.
laney called and facetimed me in the er. and made sure to post a pic of the convo on facebook :)
the er doc called the anesthesiologist and they decided to do what is called a blood patch procedure.
I'd heard about them and they are supposed to be the gold standard in treating spinal headaches so I was ALL FOR IT! I was readmitted upstairs and got an epidural. Only instead of injecting meds into the epidural space- they take blood out of my arm and immediately re-inject it into my back. the blood patches the hole in my dura and helps reestablish the pressure differential. I realized that an epidural attempt got me into this mess in the first place- but I was DYING,
kent's partner doc ended up cancelling the peds clinic for the day and went to tokyo for the ambulance transfer so kent could stay with me. He works with some pretty great people.
the blood patch worked almost immediately. the neck ache was gone. the headache was gone. I could stand. I could think. I could be me! here I am post procedure! I was a little loopy from all of the meds. When I'm loopy - I lose the small filter I usually have. I had forgotten my ID in all of the mess and they wanted it to do the procedure- but the anesthesiologist told the other doc: "she is who she says she is. I know her!" to which I responded; "oh yeah- do recognize all the holes in my back?" Ha! I thought it was pretty funny. the er doc said I looked like a pin cushion. There are seven holes back there!!
I slept well that night and kent went to work in the morning. and then I started hurting again. it all came back. and I have NO idea why. sometimes the patch doesn't hold. Kent had an admin afternoon and came home. I went to bed and stayed there for 18 hours. there is NOTHING harder for me in this world than doing nothing. and in all of the pain I was irrational. I thought I'd be in chronic pain the rest of my life. I was so scared. the internet convinced me I'd never get better. I was sure I would never be able to run again!! every time I'd go to the bathroom- the pain would come all over again. I'd try to feed mack. I'd try to help metta change her clothes but I couldn't do ANYthing. I decided we were not having any more children ever.
friday- kent went to work and friends from church came and took all of my children. I layed on the floor of my house for 18 hours with lots of tears. But that baby mack was held more in the past six days than he will be the next month combined :) I am so grateful for the help. People came into my home and filled my fridge with food, and fed and held my baby, and took my kids when I could not. I am forever grateful to these people. I have never been so dependent on others in my life. I was so homesick for family. and my friends in ohio. but so many people took care of us here.
kent spoke to the anesthesiologists at the hospital, I talked to friends who had gone through this, and I consulted a fabulous anesthesiologist friend from our toledo days. Kent and I decided we'd wait it out instead of trying for another epidural blood procedure. it would heal- but could take another full week.
Today is Saturday. I woke up and didn't want to die. I can sit up without crying. I'm still in pain - but I can breathe. My spinal headache is subsiding!!!! and I am so grateful. and so happy. I'm sad to be missing the church halloween party- but kent is there with the kiddos and I am here well enough to blog!
I think I still have a longer recovery to go through than normal. Kent is going to have to remind me of that. to slow down and let myself heal.
I even felt good enough to get some pictures of baby mack! I'm so sad I missed out on the first six days of his life in pictures!!
I really am grateful for fabulous doctors who got us through all of this. I don't blame the anesthesiologist. This is one of the most common risks of epidurals- an ELECTIVE procedure. and I would get another.
It also made me realize how weak and strong I am. I spent a lot of time in prayer- trying to find strength and hope to not give up. There is nothing like debilitating pain to bring me to some pretty intense humility. I'm grateful for the many many prayers I know were offered in my behalf :)
oh and my final epiphany- I might just have a fifth child. maybe.