Wednesday 17 May 2017

My Lumbar Puncture Experience

Today I am sharing my experience of having a lumbar puncture.
Please bare in mind that I am not a professional and that this post is only me sharing my thoughts and feelings on the procedure.

In January I was made aware by my neurologist that I would need to go for a lumbar puncture at some point in the next few months.
At this point in my life my only knowledge of a lumbar puncture was what I had seen on House.
You know, people wincing and crying. GREEEEEEEAT -__-

After a short-ish wait, I got my appointment through.
It was about two-three weeks before the actual day of - which was enough time for me to contact anyone to ask any questions or to re-arrange it.
In the appointment letter I received a leaflet of what to expect and what was going to happen.
I had been advised by my neurologist that I may need to travel home by car as I may need to lay down.
I sorted out my transport and decided to get a lift home from the hospital.

My appointment was for 9am *crying inside* so I was up bright and early for a shower and planned enough time for me to have something small to eat and try to chill out before having to leave.
I had to take my letter(s) along with me and I decided to take a bottle of water as I had heard that I would need to make sure I was hydrated afterwards.

I had to have other tests on the day before my lumbar puncture,
but I'll leave those out of this post as I'd like to try to be as concise as I can about the lumbar puncture itself.

Before I knew it, it was time to have the lumbar puncture.
I was shown to a bed on the ward and only had to wait a very short time for the doctor to come.
She introduced herself and then began to ask me some questions regarding any medication I was on etc.
She asked me if anyone had spoken to me about the procedure to which I said no, so she then began to discuss it with me.
The steps of what was going to happen were explained to me and I felt in really good hands.
The doctor then went to get the equipment.

I was asked to lay down on my side, she helped me to make myself comfortable and got me in the correct position for her to perform it.
Obviously I couldn't see anything that was happening so I can only talk about what I felt.
I was asked to bring my knees up towards my chest and then she lifted the back of my top.
She then wiped my back – with whatever they use, like I said, I couldn't see it  xD
The doctor had to feel where my hips are
to which I obviously responded with “good luck with that!” x'D
she said that helps her find the correct area of my back.
I could feel as she was pushing against my vertebrae, again I assume to find the correct spot.
It felt uncomfortable, it didn't hurt, just a bit uncomfy.

Once she had done this several times she then said that she was going to start injecting the local anaesthetic, some more closer to the surface and some deeper inside so that I couldn't feel the procedure being done.
It felt like the sensation of a blood test – in my back though :/ - so I felt the sharp sting and it going inside.
I know that when I have a blood test, after the needle has settled in the vein I can't really feel it anymore, well that sensation lasted a little longer because I guess the needle had a little further to go.

After a short while, (with more feeling of my hips and vertebrae) she began with the lumbar puncture.
I felt a short shooting kind of pain in my left leg.
I had been aware that this may happen by the information leaflet and the doctor had informed me of this before we started.
I let her know, she asked which leg and said that it was good as it meant we were in the right place.
After a number of times of this happening I felt the pain stronger and for longer in my leg, I told her and she said that the fluid had begun to drain.
I found myself concentrating on my breathing as a distraction.
The pain didn't last very long after that, it became more of a dull ache.
She let me know when we were half way through which was nice to know.
I was only laying there like that for a further minute or two and then she said that we were finished.
Throughout I didn't feel pain in my back, it was only in my leg that I felt discomfort.
I was surprised by this as I had imagined that lumbar puncture is in the back = my back will hurt during.

I had to stay laying like that for a little while as she checked the area, she said that I wasn't bleeding so a plaster was applied.
I then had to lie down flat on my back for 30-45 minutes as it can help to lower the chance of a headache.
I actually saw the viles with the spinal fluid in which was pretty rad :)

I could feel the slightest ache in my back but nothing too bad at all.
After about 30 minutes another doctor came to give me a blood test and said that after another 10-15 minutes I could make my way home.
It was stressed to me before I left how important it was for me to drink water and to keep hydrated.
Fortunately for me I'm pretty good with my water intake so this wasn't a huge ask.
So then we headed home :)

I had been concerned about being able to shower the following morning and the doctor told me that that wouldn't be a problem and that
as I hadn't had any bleeding I would be able to remove the dressing and have a shower
woop woop
The rest of the day my back felt tender so I didn't sit back fully in the car on the way home I just sat to the side a bit and
the same for when I got home when sat on the sofa etc.
I didn't have any headache or backache bad enough for me to have to take any paracetamol.
I drank quite a lot of water as I had been advised, so I feel that that may have contributed to the lack of headache.
When I went to bed that night I slept on my side as my back was tender but I noticed that towards the wee hours of the morning
I was able to sleep on my back quite comfortably.

I got up the next day with a similar feeling in my back, mostly noticeable when bending etc. so I kept that to a minimum... bend with your knees xD
I took off the plaster and could only see a little red dot with a small amount of redness around it, no bruising 👍
The following day I continued to stay as hydrated as I humanly could.
I had the most wonderful shower, washed and dried the area carefully and was at home in my pjs for the day so I took it nice and easy.
The days after were continued improvements with the backache
(I wouldn't call it that is it wasn't enough to take anything for it, but I cant think of a better word for it).
At the time of writing this post I am 5 days post lumbar puncture and basically feel as though I never even had it.

The experience on the whole was much easier, straight forward and much less scary than I thought it was going to be.
Every doctor and nurse I came into contact with on that day were absolutely fantastic, warm and helpful and
they truly made me feel like I was in amazing hands... and I was :)
If I knew someone who was going to be having a lumbar puncture tomorrow, I would say that in my experience, yes it wasn't the nicest thing in the world but it was nowhere near as bad as I had convinced myself it would be.

On the whole it will be something I remember forever and if I ever have to have another one,
I wont be any where near as apprehensive or scared as I was this time :)

At the time of posting this, my lumbar puncture was almost 4 weeks ago and it's as if I never had it :)
I hope that someone, somewhere finds this helpful :D


No comments:

Post a Comment