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Well, it wasn’t on…

February 23, 2008

my Bucket List, a caudal epidural block that is, but it’s now officially a part of my medical resume. (Does anyone know how you put that little accent marky thing on the “e” in resume? Or do I just have to write it out re-zu-may?)

Back to the point of dribble I’m making here. My actual re-zu-may, if I ever really wrote one, is infamous for being quite eclectic. My medical re-zu-may has stories of its own making. Consider the following a cheap form of entertainment.

The caudal epidural block is not all that bad. I would do it again. In fact, I am doing it again this next Thursday. After that we, meaning the doctor, the Husband, me, and the DDD, will decide how to proceed. I expect that meeting to be riveting.

Anyway, the word “epidural” usually causes me to hyperventilate and not because of overweening excitement. I was one of those people with my first pregnancy who did not want an epidural. I was an all naturelle girl and smugly proud of it. I loved being pregnant, I breathed through labor, and gave birth to a nine pound son while laughing. Epidural, schepidural–I didn’t need or want it.

Fast forward to James’ first bone marrow transplant, and I was his donor. I was breastfeeding and naively clung to the idea that mother’s milk elixir alone would correct James’ immune system. I was insistent that I still be able to breastfeed, and so I refused the general anesthesia after being told that it would seep into my breastmilk and affect the baby. The amount of bone marrow necessary to harvest from a donor for a transplant cannot be taken from a conscious donor–unless of course Jack Bauer is involved. The anesthesia team awakened me to this point and offered me an epidural. I consented to that knowing that thousands of women received them every day for the birthing process, and what could go wrong anyway?

Sometimes you should actually ask those types of questions out loud.

The epidural was given, and the southern region went numb. A relaxant of some sort was given, and the northern region went happy. The bone marrow was harvested while all of us, the PA, the surgical nurses, the anesthesiologist, and yours truly, all had a friendly conversation. I was quite entertaining, I was later told. Being wheeled into recovery I remember fuzzily thinking that those evil epidurals weren’t all bad and maybe with a subsequent pregnancy I would almost consider it.

The party occurred in the next 24 hours. I was quite sore waist down from the harvest, but quickly forgot about that pain as my head began to throb. The throbbing was accompanied by light sensitivity that brought along its playmates of sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. Eventually any position but prone, and I mean completely prone, induced projectile vomiting. I was in the hospital room with James and Husband. Husband was running back and forth between us about to lose his mind. It was Bedlam of Bodily Functions. James had copious diarrhea, and I was throwing up my brains.

Diagnosis: epidural tear of the spinal sheath with spinal fluid leaking out causing brain to bounce around inside of hard skull. That was not the technical diagnosis. Epidural headache, spinal headache, worst pain I’d ever known headache–take your pick.

However, my mom was flying in from Chicago, and by the time she arrived, Husband was in a state of panic, James was crying, and I was delusional. Quick conferencing led to the decision to put me in a wheelchair and take me via shuttle train, from the South hospital wing to the North hospital wing to be seen by an anesthesiologist. A nurse was called in to stay with James while Husband pushed the wheelchair, Mom held the bucket, and well, I filled it up with dry heaves.

Relief came at the needle of the anesthesiologist who shot me up with IV happy juice cocktail followed by a blood patch procedure to resolve the dural tear followed by the unwelcome news that I now had a fever of over 101 degrees and they were afraid I might have an infection in my spinal column. I was admitted to the North hospital wing, while James was in the South hospital wing. Husband stayed with me. Mom went back to James. 48 hours of IV antibiotic went into me.

Oh yes, and remember that I was nursing? Well, that was put on hold for 72 hours. I was as big as….there are just no words.

So, it was within those days of medical nightmare that I vowed to never, never, never have another epidural. Until this past Thursday, of course. But in my defense of keeping vows, a caudal epidural block goes in a whole different place, with a much different effect, and I’ll be doing it again. That seems to happen when I say never.

I’m very grateful for everyone’s well wishes, prayers, and encouragements. The Body of Christ has been a sweet fragrance through this trial. I know myself to be blessed, and continue to look forward in hope to how God will work these things to His sovereign purpose.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2008 1:37 am

    What a nightmare–I can’t imagine–are you going to finish the story? I mean, I know you survived, but what happened after they found the fever?

    What a woman!

    Glad you’re feeling better today 🙂

  2. February 24, 2008 2:06 am

    Oh, I know EXACTLY what that is; I had that (spinal leak) myself after Jake was born.

    It was the worst pain I’ve ever had.

    I can understand your reluctance.

  3. February 24, 2008 1:15 pm

    Leslie: after they found the fever, I was admitted for 48 hours of antibiotics. The blood cultures never showed an infection, and I improved at that point without too much more drama. I just ask those types of questions out loud now–exactly what can happen?

  4. February 24, 2008 3:13 pm

    Oh, my goodness, Elle! What a terrible ordeal, and yet I admire the way you can tell it with humor and grace. I have been praying for you, and will continue.

  5. February 24, 2008 7:13 pm

    I never wanted an epidural, either — and you’ve given me a few more reasons why!! Guess I should never say never, though, huh?

    Hope the Lord uses these procedures to relieve your back pain.

  6. February 24, 2008 10:28 pm

    Words fail me, but I will be praying for relief of your back pain and wisdom for all involved.

  7. February 25, 2008 3:22 am

    Elle! I am EXHAUSTED just reading that story. You have been through some STUFF, now, you know?! Are you considering writing a memoir? Because you really should. You really, really should.

    Anyway, so glad to hear all went well with the caudal epi. (how does one pronounce “caudal” anyway? I keep thinking “coddle” which somehow doesn’t seem to fit here)

  8. Ellen permalink
    February 25, 2008 4:48 pm

    Spinal leaks!?
    I’m so happy your new experience with the epidural went well.

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