I'm sorry I didn't make my normal post this week. Here's what happened.
As I wrote about here, I am now receiving injections of a chemotherapy drug called methotrexate directly into my spinal cord. This is an experimental treatment for MS.
Sometimes when a doctor pierces the spinal cord with a needle, in order to either extract fluid for testing or inject medicine for treatment, the puncture that the needle leaves in the dural lining of the spinal cord does not completely and immediately close (or heal).
When this problem occurs, which is between 10% and 30% of the time with lumbar punctures (LPs), the ensuing leakage of spinal fluid causes a headache that can be severe when sitting up, but is usually mild when lying flat. I was lucky enough to experience an LP headache after my injection on Monday of this week, and it was rather debilitating.
I had to lie flat in bed or be completely reclined in my wheelchair from Monday of this week until today (Friday), except for a few uncomfortable instances where I had no alternative but to be upright for a few minutes.
Sometimes these LP headaches resolve themselves within a couple of days. If they don't, then the standard treatment is called a blood patch, which I received today.
In a nutshell, with a blood patch the doctor takes about 15 ml of blood out of an arm vein and injects that blood directly into your spinal cord, at about the same location as the original puncture. So I had the pleasure of enduring a second spinal tap this week to treat the side effects from the first spinal tap.
I'm happy to report that the blood patch procedure provided complete and immediate relief, as it does in about 90% of cases. I'm now sitting upright in my wheelchair, reading my e-mails and completing other tasks that were difficult to do while lying flat on my back.
And I quite look forward to once again eating peas at dinner without them ending up in my bed sheets.
Note for people who might undergo a spinal tap: I found a great article that describes in some detail why this post-lumbar puncture headache occurs, and discusses how it can be avoided and/or treated. Click here.
Note: To see all of my intrathecal methotrexate posts, click here. They are listed in reverse chronological order.