Post Lumbar Puncture Headache

For the last four days, I’ve kept telling myself that I have dodged a bullet. I keep saying, I do not have a spinal headache. By that I mean, I do not have a spinal headache of the epic proportions  I had experienced after my first lumbar punctute, back in 1995. That time, I could not turn my head to the left or to the right without feeling my world lurch from beneath me. That time, I had to stay super-still. The slighest movement would wreck existential havoc on my entire being. In the hours before I was given a lumbar patch, I wanted to die.

This time around, I can move without severe vertigo. I do not want to die. Time to break out the champagne? Not yet.

I’ve come to learn that there are varying degrees of post-lumbar headache. The headache I’ve pooh-poohed for the last four days has not required a lumbar patch, but it has required me to maybe lie still perhaps a bit more than I would like. My husband has been swift to do all the cooking and home management since my return from the NIH, but that has not prevented me from doing silly things, like standing up automatically, instead of slowly. Or responding to a wagging dog tail or a petulant cat yawl by bending down to pet a pet…and feeling instant regret, as that second-rate, not-so-scary post-lumbar headache  grips my skull like a vise.

I find myself creating work-arounds to avoid the headache.  Why bend over to insert a little detergent pellet into the dishwasher when I can clasp it with my toes instead? This is why: the pellet will drop…nowhere near the receptacle. Again. And again. The firm little red pellet embedded in the detergent block will roll away. Well, what a fun dexterity exercise! I’ve read, many times, that it’s useful for brain development to shake things up and do things differently. I tried to frame it this way: perhaps my brain might appreciate the chance to use the toes like the fingers. My brain just throbbed in response. So now I’ll frame this challenge a new way: it is time for me to lie back down, and give my brain and spinal cord a rest.

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