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A daunting, scary, eerie, forbidding silhouette of a person on a path shaped like a spine.

Would A Spinal Tap Give Me Answers?

It was the year 2016, months before my official NMOSD diagnosis, and I was limp walking around the hospital hallways to get to my very first neurology appointment. The first time I heard of the term spinal tap I visualized a doctor tapping up and down the outer skin of my spinal cord with some sort of device. That visualization lasted about 5 seconds until the neurologist started explaining exactly how it’s done and what they were looking for.

I went in the appointment with a smile that quickly turned into a frown.

It sounded terrifying, like the epidurals I had experienced when I gave birth to my children. But for the sake of my health, I was willing to try anything within reason.

This or That

Have you ever had a spinal tap?

Neurology questions and tests

A volunteer of the hospital offered me a wheelchair so that I can roll my way to my destination but being stubborn I refused the offer. I walked down the long hospital hallway, balancing myself off the walls and waist height wooden handles attached to the wall (with many breaks to rest my legs).

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When I finally made it to my neurologist's office, after checking in I sat down like I had won a 5k marathon. But it really felt like I was melting into the seat with how tired and fatigued I was from walking from the parking lot to the building.

When I was called in to see the neurologist he went through a series of questions and silly basic arm tests. I thought it was so dumb to roll my fist in a circular motion, touch my nose with my index finger and then to my neurologist finger, what was this kindergarten? I thought everything about this appointment was a bit childish, until he said spinal tap.

Wait what?

Explaining the procedure

I thought to myself, now you’re going to tap my back? Now that was a silly thought. Until he explained that it’s an actual procedure. Then he proceeded to explain the process and how a needle would poke my spinal cord to take a few drops of cerebrospinal fluid. I  was clueless to the procedure.

He explained that in the cerebrospinal fluid there is a lot of important information for a proper diagnosis, which why it was important to complete. He then continued to explain how this was a 5 minute procedure and would be quick. That it was just a poke and I would only have to do once in the process of my diagnosis. He emphasized that this fluid would provide valuable information in determining various different diseases.

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When my nerves kicked in

This all brought flashback memories of when I was in labor the year prior in 2015 and I had an epidural put in for the birthing process. What a painful memory but a beautiful outcome.

To get concrete answers on what was going on with my health I agreed and booked an appointment for the spinal tap procedure the following week.

The day of the spinal tap procedure it was a hot, sunny summer day. I drove into the hospital with my mother. At first, I wasn’t nervous and thought this was a 5 minute poke procedure as the neurologist explained. I was taken to my surgical day care room so that I would undress and change into a hospital gown and pants. While waiting for my 5 minute poke procedure it felt like the prep took forever.

Finally, after signing consent and a quick explanation of what to expect from the procedure I was ready to go. I still was not nervous for the quick 5-minute poke until I was wheeled into the procedure room in a wheelchair and then was asked to transfer onto a bed.

That’s when I saw it, the big, gigantic, long skinny shiny metal needle that would be used for the “quick” 5-minute poke. My nerves kicked in so fast and I could feel body tensing up. My spasms took over my body and I became rock solid. I quickly asked the attending nurse if that was for me, he nodded yes, then proceeded to reassure it would be quick and easy. I wasn’t so sure of that anymore.

Read my next article where I will go into detail about my spinal tap procedure and recovery.

Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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