Yesterday I had my third treatment of intrathecal methotrexate, delivered via a spinal tap. Unlike my previous treatment, today I am no worse for the wear.
For a description of how I ended up on this experimental protocol, and for the scientific evidence that supports it, click here.
For an account of what went wrong with my previous infusion and caused me to lie flat on my back for nine days, read this post and then this post.
The Manhattan neurologist, Dr. Saud A. Sadiq, who has researched this treatment in progressive MS patients, prefers to employ a thin, 25 gauge needle to deliver the drug into the patient's spine. The local physician who is helping me on this, an oncologist who treats some of his cancer patients in this manner, was resistant to use such a thin needle. However, after my previous debacle where I had a nine day headache and two blood patch repairs, he agreed to give it a try this time around.
The procedure went well, and he had no difficulty with the 25 gauge needle. The infusion itself was relatively painless, but more importantly I had no post-lumbar puncture headache. The literature, and a couple of anesthesiologists I spoke to, supports the idea that these thinner needles are much less likely to generate a post-lumbar puncture headache than the standard sized needles. I like doctors who consider my recommendations and implement them.
It's easy for me to put into perspective the discomfort I sometimes feel during and after these procedures. All I have to do is be observant as I roll through this oncologist’s treatment room and see the dozen or so cancer patients tethered to their chemotherapy bags. At best they will be extremely uncomfortable for weeks, and at worst they will suffer long, agonizing deaths. That makes what I'm going through, in terms of treatment discomfort, minor by comparison.
But I do envy them in one respect. If I was given the opportunity for a more intense and risky treatment, but with the possibility of a complete cure, like these cancer patients have, I might not say no. That option simply doesn't exist for me though.
So, is my treatment working thus far? I told you that I could not make an accurate assessment in less than six months, and it's only been four months. You people are just unbelievable sometimes…
Note: To see all of my intrathecal methotrexate posts, click here. They are listed in reverse chronological order.