Mandy's Epidural Headache and Blood Patch Story After Birth
I gave birth to my daughter in 2001. During delivery I asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist who was on call came to my room and got to work. Of course this was my first pregnancy and delivery and I had no idea what was normal. He tried to find the spot in my back for over an hour. At one point during that time my spinal fluid actually shot across the room (according to my mother and husband who both saw it). My mom at that point had to leave the room because she was very upset. I was having a really hard time keeping still as they tell you to do because it had been so long and my contractions were of course getting stronger and it had been a long time that he had been trying. He finally said that he couldn't do it and he would have to find someone else who could. A while later another doctor came in and he got it in within minutes of entering my room. I had no idea it was supposed to go like that!! I'm not sure when my head started to hurt but I know that the day I was going to be discharged I talked to one of my nurses about it and she got the doctor to prescribe some Tylenol 3 for my headache. Now knowing about my problem with the epidural, they should have maybe thought about this? But off to my house I went.
The headache of course got so much worse. I get migraines and I know migraine pain. I throw up from migraines. I am often incapacitated from migraines. This was so much beyond migraines. As people who have had the spinal headache know it hurts to even sit up. I had no idea what was going on and I don't know how long I would have held out just thinking it was a form of a migraine. A wonderful nurse came to my home to do a home visit with my new baby and I. I think this occurred maybe a week after I was released from the hospital. I told her about my headache and of course I couldn't even sit up to talk with her. She was the one who knew what the problem was and told me to go into the ER for a blood patch. So I called my mother to come over and watch the baby and drove myself to the ER.
When I got there they called my husband for me because they said I shouldn't drive myself home. Wouldn't be able to is more like it. The doctor there was very kind and he was amazed at all the holes in my back and asked himself out loud in amazement, "what on earth did they do to you?" I told him it took quite a while to get the epidural in and he said he could see that. He drew the blood from my arm and told me he was going to insert it in my back. He told me I would feel a lot of pressure but I needed to stay absolutely still. It was terrible. As he was putting the blood into my back my legs started to shake and I tried to make myself stay still and I started to moan and scream. My poor husband just held my hand. The headache went away but I couldn't move. It's like my whole body was paralyzed. It was the weirdest thing. I couldn't move my head or neck or back. I laid there for a few hours and finally they told me I had to get up to go home.
The next few weeks were better because my head did not hurt but pure agony because I could not even turn my head from side to side. It literally took weeks until I could look fully from one side to the other. I needed help getting up out of bed and off the couch. I had to have someone give me my daughter to hold. I couldn't pick her up, put her down, feed her by myself, change her, or anything that a parent should do. Thank goodness it was summer and my mom was off from work to help me or I don't know what I would have done. I was joyful to have a baby, but it was truly a miserable time personally for me.
Was I scared to have a second baby? Absolutely. We waited 5 years. Not to mention I hemorrhaged with my firstborn and was scared of that again, but that's another story. I did have an epidural with baby number 2. Everything was fine. I was induced at 8am. The anesthesiologist was just at the start of his shift (instead of at midnight like with baby #1) and seemed to be very experienced. I told him how nervous I was because of before. But it turned out fine, so I don't think it is an anatomical problem with the way my back or whatever is. Maybe it was just a fluke or maybe a bad doctor. They do exist. I wish he would have acknowledged he could not do before he wasted almost an hour and a half and shot spinal fluid out.
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