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Kristie's Long Term Epidural Headache Story

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Kristie's Story - Long Term Epidural Headache After Childbirth - Six Weeks and Still Suffering

Six weeks ago I had a beautiful, 10 lb baby boy. It was a scheduled section, since my first child was a section. The doctor explained that the would do a spinal block instead of an epidural this time, as that is the typical procedure. However, he did not disclose the risks involved...

The anesthesiologist tried several times to administer the spinal block (ouch) & my doctor seemed very irritated at her. He even said it should be easy for her because I was not overweight and my spine was prominent. I ended up having a general anesthetic. No big deal- at least it was over with...or so I thought.

The first 24 hours I felt fantastic! A scheduled section was a breeze compared to 18 hours of labor followed by a c-section!! The second day after delivery was a different story all together. I developed an excruciating headache at the base of my skull through the middle of my back. People's voices sounded mechanical or robotic and every noise I heard was accompanied with what sounded like R2D2 translating to me in one ear. I had a metallic taste in my mouth and could not sit up to hold or feed my baby. I kept telling the nurses, but they dismissed my complaints. None of the pain meds helped at all. The only relief I got was when I was flat on my back. Finally, the shift change brought on whom I consider a God-send of a nurse who listened to me and immediately stated I was having symptoms of a spinal leak. About twelve hours later, a different anesthesiologist came to my room and performed a blood patch. He was very apologetic and told me he was not charging me for this service. I remember thinking someone must have really screwed up if a doctor isn't charging my insurance. He said if the patch did not work, they would not do another one. The leak would have to heal itself. I had immediate relief of the ringing/noise in my ears, but the headaches continued. I spent the next 12 hours laying flat, trying to nurse my baby, and praying for some sort of relief. They tried to discharge me, but I insisted on staying in the hospital another day. How was I supposed to function at home with a newborn and a three year old when I couldn't even sit up? I was still having headaches when they discharged me from the hospital. Both my OBGYN and anesthesiologist assured me that the leak would heal on it's own in 5-7 days. They told me there was nothing more they could do for me and I should tough it out and go home...so I did. I figured I could live with it a few more days and then it would all be over. Just another child birth "war story". Six weeks later, I am still having headaches off and on and today, R2D2 came back for a visit. It has been 12 hours of beeping and ringing, instead of my daughter's laughter and my son's cooing. I started working out 3 days ago (after being cleared by my doctor) to try to get back in shape and I have a feeling this is making it worse. (Those of you who have more experience with these problems, please let me know if you agree.). My doctor insists that my headaches are unrelated to the spinal leak because it healed itself within a week of my surgery- I am scoffing at this statement even as I type it. I know I have NEVER had this problem before and all other headaches, including the TMJ, stress headaches, & migraines I've experienced in the past, pale in comparison. I do not see how they can try to say my current problem is unrelated! I started doing some research of my own and found this site. I am still looking for answers as far as how to proceed.

I had never even heard of a spinal headache before I experienced one. It is unlike any other pain I have felt in my life. The thing that really gets me is that no one bothered to warn me of the risks in having my spinal column punctured. It could have been avoided! If my doctor had said, "there is a chance that you will not be able to stand for long periods of time, pick up your children, exercise, etc. for the rest of your life without getting severe headaches and ringing in your ears", I think I would have just opted for the general anesthetic to begin with!! I am praying that this is temporary for me and that my quality of life will be restored. I don't know whether or not I should see a neurologist, since it has not been very long and it isn't constant. I am going back to work in two weeks and dread having to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. A side note- my back still feels like I have a 8-10 inch diameter gaping bruise around the spot the needles were inserted into my spine. If you have experienced this, you know why I use the word gaping. My sister is a chiropractor and said that 4 out of 5 of her female patients that had an epidural or spinal block complain of this chronic pain. I had no idea about this either and this was my second time to have one. Maybe the doctors should start disclosing this information.

Thank you all for sharing and compiling your stories. It really helps those who are unsure as to what is going on with their body and can't seem to find answers from professionals.

Kristie

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