Thursday, April 28, 2005

This is Spinal Tap

Where do I begin?

I was coming out of the Marketing Building at school a few weeks ago. My body decided it was a good time for me to work on my Michael J. Fox impersonation, so I began to shake violently for no apparent reason. My jaw clenched together and everything. It was like riding an old wooden roller coaster, only without all the cool stuff. Like the roller coaster part.

After a few seconds it went away. After picking up my loose change that a kid threw at me, saying, "Dude, I'm so sorry to see you like this. Loved you in Family Ties, though. Your sisters were hot. Later.", I jumped in the car and began the ride back to the house. Right as I'm jumping on the interstate through downtown New Orleans, it happened again. Only this time it hurt like hell. At that point I decided going to a hospital might not be a real horrible idea.

Oh, if I could turn back time ...

I arrived at the emergency room at a hospital I won't name due to impending legal action that will be filed soon on my behalf at about 9 or so. I walked in, got my vitals checked, and sat down. I was shaking constantly. The junkie sitting next to me had pity and offered my a couple of rocks "to take the edge off," but I politely refused.

(No, not really. That part was a joke)

Wifey showed up about an hour later, and a while later I had a third seizure, this time so severe I dropped everything in my hands and ended up hunched over in a weird, seated fetal position. The crack-pot staff at the E.R. decided I may need to be seen at that point, before the girl sitting a few chairs over who had fallen walking across her living room and "broke her leg." After 3 trips to the vending machine with no sign of a limp, she convinced the onlooking nurses she was more interested in the pain meds than the actual injury and was sent home.

The next few hours are hazy. I remember peeing in a cup, I think I had a CT scan, maybe an MRI or two and an EEG. Enter Dr. Mengele.

After an hour of debate between me and Skippy the 15-year-old doctor, I finally complied with his request to have a spinal tap done. He got me to concede with a stunning line worthy of guilt trip hall of fame honors:

"Well, it's ok if you don't want the spinal tap. It's the only way to be sure if you don't have meningitis and all, but it's your life and I can't tell you what to do. Just keep an eye on your two small children. If they get sick, you should probably bring them in ASAP."

Bravo, slick.

As I lay there reminiscing about the things I loved doing that I may never do again (like walking, for example) Doogie walked back in with 7 (yes, really) nurses. Apparently it was "Bring Your Incompetent Coworkers To Advanced Medical Procedures" day and I was the unwitting test subject. "They've never seen one before and I want to use this as a learning opportunity."

(Fast forward 45 minutes and 10 punctures later ...)

After 10 failed attempts, 3 of which hit bone and one of which hit a nerve, making my right leg completely numb for the remainder of the evening, I told the doctor to stop. (later, my boss observed the excavation site on my lower back and said it looked like someone was giving me a tattoo and ran out of ink) I had reached the limit of the amount of pain I was going to tolerate for the fiscal year. Now's where it really starts to get good:

"Let me try one more time, but sit up and bend over like the thinking man statue." Up to this point they had me curled in the fetal position with a big male nurse holding me down. I agreed to let him try, mainly because I was too sick to argue.

Less than 2 minutes later, he had three vials of fluid.

Infuriated as I was that we didn't just start like that to begin with, I was relieved it was over. So I thought.

The doctor left while I was waiting for the test results to come back. Apparently, it was obvious to the naked eye that the spinal fluid was clear. He just bolted ... without leaving any discharge instructions.

He didn't tell me that it was absolutely essential that I go home and lie flat for 2 days so the holes in the spinal column could heal. So I didn't. I felt pretty ok since I was all hopped up on IV narcotics. I went home, cleaned up a bit, did some work around the house, and several other jobs I shouldn't have done. As I did, spinal fluid spewed from the tiny new holes in my spinal column.

Making a very long story a bit shorter, the fluid in your spine goes all the way into your skull, forming a cushion between your brain and skull. My fluid was in my lower back, so my brain (quoting the doctor here) "sagged in your head and pressed firmly against your skull."

Any idea how much that hurts?

So I found out about this 3 ER visits and 12 days later. After being diagnosed (Thanks to the staff at Tulane University Medical Center ...) the problem was fixed in 4 days.

Summary: I'm suing the first hospital, proud to be a new Tulane student because apparently they teach people how to do stuff there, and even more determined than ever to be a lawyer.

Here's the conundrum this causes: I hate lawyers. Not all, but most. Even more, I hate law suits. Not all, but most. See, I don't want to be some personal injury snake who makes millions suing people for stupid trash that clogs the dockets and ultimately causes tax payers millions. I do, however, want to help those who cannot help themselves. Thus my desire to be a Child and Victim Advocacy attorney. I'm not planning on suing the hospital for millions of dollars, I just want to make sure they take more care in the future to prevent others from suffering for 12 days when they could have been in minor pain for 4.

Blah blah. Sorry- it's therapy Thursday. Got windy and preachy. It happens. I'll resume the sardonic tongue lashings next time.