My lumbar puncture experience



I've had a few requests to share my experiences with various tests and ordeals I have had to go through since getting ill, to help get an official diagnosis, and also further tests to help rule out or discover which ever the case may be, any additional problems. I will share my experiences with the tests so if anyone is about to undergo any of them, they should know what to expect and how to prepare to make it as easy and as comfortable as you can.

I will start the series with the lumbar puncture.

What is a lumbar puncture?

A lumbar puncture is a medical procedure where a needle is inserted into the lower part of the spine to look for evidence of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord or other parts of the nervous system.



My personal experience with the lumbar puncture

Without a doubt, the lumbar puncture was the most horrific most painful experience of my life, and I think of myself as being quite tough. Considering when I had it done I was 'out of it' and mostly completely unaware of what was going on. I have no memory of the night, but I can remember the lumbar puncture, although I wish I didn't. I was in Spain at the time and was rushed into hospital with my first seizure, they thought I was having a stroke. They carried out the procedure and I wasn't under any local anaesthetic, so for me it was pure, although I'm told normally it is done under general anaesthetic. Also, to add to the ordeal, the team of about seven doctors were finding it very difficult to get a reading, which meant I had to have the needle injected around six times. I was screaming and balling like a baby, I'm ashamed to say. It's not like me to make a kick and fuss like that, but every time they said told me I had to go through it again, I naturally like anyone in so much pain begged them no. I was in a bed only divided by a curtain, so the poor people in the department had to hear me, and my poor boyfriend must have felt so helpless, I feel bad people had to hear that.

Following the test, I was admitted into hospital and was not allowed to sit up or stand for a few days, and when I did have to for reasons like using the toilet I was so sick, and had the worst headache I have ever experienced. This is because the cerebrospinal fluid within the spinal canal is low, and you are unbalanced. The fluid was leaking through a hole in my spine for about one week. I had an IV bag full of caffeine, and the nurses kept giving me coffee, because they recommend high levels of caffeine helps decrease the pain and after effects once the procedure has been carried out. Every time I was sick, it tasted of coffee (a really horrible cheap coffee just to add to it) I haven't been able to drink coffee since, which might be a blessing in disguise as coffee is not the best drink in the world for us!
















Will my experience be as bad as this?

Since I had the test done, and having researched more into it, I believe generally the procedure isn't as uncomfortable as mine was. If you have one done in an emergency situation like I did, chances are it will be worse, but if you know in advance you will have one done, you will be given better pain relief beforehand and you won't need to be admitted into hospital. Also bare in mind I had the lumbar puncture done whilst abroad in Spain, so certain things will have been done differently. The experience of the Doctor doing the procedure will make a difference, an experienced doctor will mean a better experience for you. It makes me wonder if my Doctor was doing it for the first time! Knowing my luck he/she probably was!

My advice

If you know you will be having a lumbar puncture done, go in and be brave. If it is planned ahead it should be better for you anyway. Stock up on caffeine, and drink lots of it! Lay down as much as you can, do not sit up for anything you don't need to, you might also want to do your business in a bed pan for a few days, not ideal I know but peeing in a bowel is nothing compared to the discomfort you could experience just from standing up for less than a minute. Also consider using a wheelchair upon leaving the hospital, and if you can lay down in the car lay down! 

The lumbar puncture is a big, important procedure, and if the results show any faults they could be life saving. It shouldn't be feared. Once it's done it's done, so the sooner it's over the better. The best of luck to anyone about to have it done, hopefully the results come back as normal.

x Hayley-Eszti



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14 comments

  1. This sounds awful, Hayley - so sorry that your experience was like this. It made me feel a bit queasy to read so I can't imagine how it must've felt to actually have it done. Well done for being so brave though, and I love that you're starting a new series on medical tests and what to expect, imagine it'll be very helpful for a lot of people! x

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    1. It made me queasy thinking back to it all, yeah I'm hoping they will help some people, I know when I was having all these tests done it was a scary time

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  2. That sounds awful, made me shudder to think how painful must've been. These things must be done though :(

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    1. Yeah, obviously the pain of it was nothing compared to what problems it could have prevented

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  3. Cariño, eres super fuerte. Muchos besos xoxo

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    1. Muchisimas gracias Lorena, un corazon muy grande

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  4. I am sure other people will find this helpful, can't have been easy to relive this time

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    1. Fingers crossed Lucy! Thank you, it made me sad to think of how ill I was at that time and I didn't even really know it, I wish I could go back to that girl now and tell her a few things

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  5. I've not had one myself, but one my my family has had one and I remember how poorly they were from it, like you say, it can be life saving though, must have been horrendous being abroad at the time

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    1. Really? I think the after care in the UK is slightly better, but being close to family and speaking your first language definitely would have made it easier for me, but luckily I had my boyfriend and his family there looking after me and one of my Spanish friends made me one of the best cakes I've ever tasted, so at least there was that! I hope your family member is ok now and doing well xx

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  6. My LP was not too painful, but they didn't tell me about the after-care of lying down. I drove myself home and, when the head pain hit... well, to this day, it is the 10 on my pain scale of 1 to 10. I have never, ever experienced pain like it. I was readmitted to the hospital and spent the night with IV caffeine and. IV morphine. What's worse, this was done because I had a headache. At least in your case they had a good reason! I wish we could warn the world, so no one takes it lightly. So, so sorry you had to go through this, H-E. X

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    1. You drove home? Wow, don't know how you must have managed that, they really should have empahsised the importance of staying flat to prevent you feeling so rotten. I agree the headache was a 10 for me too, the whole thing a 10.

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  7. This sounds horrible for you, really hope your results come back normal

    Love Tweet xx

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