You'll understand the play on words in the title (ref. The Elephant Man) once I get through with the story.
On Wednesday I was working out at the gym and had completed a set of pullups. Once I finished, it felt like someone had shot me in the back of the head. The pain traveled through the side of my head and planted itself there. I assumed it was the start of a migraine so I left the gym to take some Advil.
It started fading but never really went away. At around 5 a.m. that morning, the headache woke me up only this time it was sitting on my skull like a heavy cap. Advil eased the pain, but like the day before, the headache never went away. It was eased enough for me to get through the day, and I actually ran for 1/2 hour on the treadmill without it flaring up.
I was a little bothered that it hadn't gone away by Friday because my migraines usually fade the next day and completely disappear before day 3.
I did my usual workout with my jackass trainer (see "Grrrr" story below), but when I did the pullups, my headache exploded to the point where I couldn't move my head from side to side. My neck was so damned stiff.
I finally called my doctor on Saturday figuring I could get an appt with the critical care unit (it's basically where they send patients who need off-hour appointments and really has nothing to do with the severity of the problem).
A nurse called me back and asked what my symptoms were. I described the characteristics of my headache and she said all indications told her to tell me to go immediately to the ER.
Jeff and I packed up the kids and off we went.
I was seen by an orderly who took my blood pressure. It was 155/103, so he took it on the other arm and it read about the same.
A nurse finally saw me to take down my symptoms. When she saw my BP reading, she asked if I had a history of high BP, and I said no. She figured it was because I was in pain from the headache. She took it one more time and it was still high.
She wanted me to see an ER doctor instead of a Physician's assistant, so they had me wait in the triage unit until a doc could see me.
The ER doc came in and I once again told him how my headache started and what it felt like. He asked if I'd ever had migraines and I said yes, but that this one actually started differently than my others and it was lasting much longer.
He said I bought myself a CT scan which has a 98% rate of detecting an aneurysm and bleeding. He felt that I had all indications of a ruptured aneurysm. He said if it came out negative and he felt good about my condition after that, then he'd avoid doing a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). If I had a ruptured aneurysm, then blood would show up in my spinal fluid.
I was waiting some more for the CT room to open up and the doc later came back to tell me that he kept thinking about me and that he wanted to go ahead and do the spinal tap even if the CT scan showed nothing. He was nervous about me being in the other 2%. I said that so was I!! He said even though I was only 35 yrs old, he was exceptionally bothered by the fact that I've had migraines before and I wasn't the type of person to come in to the ER or my doctor everytime I had an episode looking for a worse problem. That and the fact that this is different than my normal migraines definitely got his attention.
The CT scan detected nothing, so I was set up for the spinal tap.
The ER doc said he'd feel better having the PA do it since he's done hundreds of them and the doc only does a couple per week.
The PA, a nurse, and a student doc came in to do the procedure. The PA inserted the needle between my vertebrae, but kept hitting bone (which by the way hurts like a mofo) and I kept yelling out mainly because of reflex in addition to the pain. The second attempt wasn't successful either so they brought me up to x-ray so that they could see my spine.
Aside from the pain, it was actually pretty cool that they could see my spine on a screen and pick the area where they needed to tap.
They inserted the needle, and because they needed gravity to draw out spinal fluid, they tilted the table so that I was more vertical. Here's where I felt like a Maple tree being tapped for syrup.
Ten minutes later, they had 4 vials of fluid and said they'd have results soon after.
That thankfully came back with no blood (since they couldn't see it visually, they sent it to the lab to look microscopically).
There's no explanation for the headache I had although I'm hoping the high BP was indeed because of my discomfort and that the headache wasn't cause by chronic high BP which runs rampant on my mom's side of the family.
So, I'll be calling my PCP on Monday to schedule an appointment for a full blood workup and a stress test.
I now have to sit up to sleep to avoid a spinal tap headache. I have one more night to sleep in the easy chair in the family room.
What a joyous weekend.