Friday, May 29, 2009

One day at a Time


My last roommate had an eclectic, but fleeting array of interests. He had books that covered a wild range of subjects. One book that I recall was a small book on finding invertebrate fossils. I told him the thing that consistently turned me against invertebrates was that they have no backbone. Spineless creatures all of them. Their only fossils, most of the time, come in the fossilized tunnels they created. Despite their seeming lack of substance, though, invertebrates do show how even they can leave a lasting mark on the world.


I do have a spine. I do have a backbone. There is nothing of jellyfish or worm in my day-to-day existence. I did get uncomfortable when the doctor told me he wanted me to get a spinal tap (lumbar puncture). This procedure would show different proteins in my cerebral spinal fluid that could serve as markers for multiple sclerosis. Apparently the fluid that cushions my brain and spine can carry markers for many problems in my central nervous system. I already discussed my old CT scans which revealed that my ventricles had closed up as slits in my head. I think maybe this fact may have implications for the problems I experienced yesterday.


As the day of my well anticipated lumbar puncture, I was assured that this is an apparently straight forward procedure. This is very true, except when it is not. I climbed on the table, and the doctor told me to curl up in a fetal position. I did as he told me. He started prepping my back. I felt as he lay covers across my back from the special, disposable lumbar puncture kit on the table. I could feel as he covered my back with Betadine.


The instructions were simple. I was told to curl up in a ball, so as to separate my vertebrae. I was then asked to tuck in my chin. The warning came before he started poking my back, loading it up with Novocaine. Then he started exploring. I felt the pressure as he poked, and poked my back again and again. It was clear that no spinal fluid came forth. Nothing whatsoever to indicate the health of my myelin sheath, the health of my nervous function as a whole.


The doctor gave up. He told the nurse that he needed to send me to people that could do what he could not do, divine spinal fluid. The people in question are the fine people in radiology with an exciting technology called fluoroscopy. With the fluoroscope, they were able to find with assurance the source of the fluid, and still the flow was slow. They tilted my table, until I was almost standing up, and still the flow was slow. It took minutes longer than the radiologist had predicted.


The spine is a low pressure system, and the one idea my mother suggested, is that possibly with my ventricles all shut up, the reserve of CSF was relatively small, and therefore making the downward pressure very small. This is only a theory, but after that I was sent to a room with a band aid on my back, and the orders to lie flat for two hours.


My doctor conducted electric nerve conduction tests, and sent me home. Still, after all that, walking was very difficult, and I went to bed to lie on a cold pack, and let my back rest. So, maybe there is an advantage to being an invertebrate. Grateful the tests are done, I await the news on what the results are.


Perhaps there are advantages to having no backbone.

I thank you for reading.


5 comments:

atticus said...

even reading that was painful. argh.

Bengbeng said...

Oh dear, oh dear. This sounds so non reassuring. I hope everything works out soon and in a positive manner. Take care. Listen to the doctor's advice and ask for a pretty nurse :)

Amor said...

Stay strong and positive Keith. There's always a rainbow after the rain. God bless.

haze said...

This is really serious, hoping you'll have good results! Just follow your doctor's advise and I am sure everything will be alright !

Keith said...

Atticus, I am fully recovered. I am grateful doctors are working to figure out my problems.

Bengbeng, most indicators suggest I have multiple sclerosis. I am content now knowing we can discus my treatment.

Amor, I am always grateful when you share. I will stay positive.

Haze, bienvenida! It is good to hear back from you. I still have yet to see France. God bless.