Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Spinal Tap and my Sister...

It all started with a simple phone call. 

  I can spend hours talking to my sister on the phone, and I have.  I had spoken to Marry Ann on Friday morning, we always talked before she had to work, catching up on daily life, how my niece was feeling {she is pregnant with her first child}, how work was going; you know ~ the daily ins and outs of life.

  It was Friday night when my niece took my sister to the local hospital, Erlanger, in Chattanooga.  While in the Emergency Room my sisters Blood Pressure was 192/108, she told the physician it felt like she hit a brick wall.  Her head was pounding, her fingers/lips/hand were tingling, and she had to wear sunglasses {even in the hospital room} because the light was causing her more pain. 

  In the course of her treatment a Ct Scan without contrast was done first, then a Ct Scan with contrast was done.  The reason for both Ct Scans, was because the physician was trying to see if there were signs of a Cranial Bleed.  A cranial bleed would have singled the physician that the headaches were the direct cause of an Hemorrhagic Stroke or an Aneurysm.  Both of the Cat Scans came out negative, thank you sweet Jesus.  The next step the ER physician wanted to take was to preform a Spinal Tap {also know as Spinal Puncture},  it was told to my sister that the ER Doctor could preform this procedure right in the emergency room she was in.   A local numbing agent was applied to the sight, and the Spinal Tap was preformed.  Two vials of fluid was drawn.  The first vial showed a small trace of blood.  It is what the physician was looking for.  From what my sister was told, blood in the spinal fluid was a sign of a Cranial bleed. He wanted to draw another vial of fluid to see if blood was in the second vial as well.  The second vial was clear.

Erlanger Hospital Downtown
  With the second vial showing clear fluid, the hospital physician knew there wasn't any Cranial Bleeding.  Around midnight {Saturday morning}, my sister was discharged from the ER and sent home with something for pain.   The headache became worse.  She could barely hold her eyes open, the smallest amount of light would cause a sharp stabbing pain in her head; even standing made the pain sharper and more intense.  The only time she found comfort was when she was laying down on her side.

  We all know the world of Corporate America, right?  Well, the same applies here.  My sisters day off was on Sunday, the day after she was released from the hospital.  That Saturday day afternoon and night, my sister called and emailed her District Manager to inform him of her current medical situation.  He never returned her calls or email.  Figures right?  This is where my sisters day off come in...

  On Sunday my sisters assistant manager was scheduled to work, except the assistant manager refused to comply with her scheduled obligation.  My sister kept calling her district manager, until at last... he returned her phone call.  Basicly, he did not want to hear anything "All I want to know Marry Ann, is if someone is going to open the store!!"  The District Manager was unsuccessful in making the assistant manager work her scheduled shift.  Thus, the day after my sisters Spinal Tap was preformed; she had to report to work. 

  Her company sent no one to releave her, no one to cover her shift. This Company Corporate America Sucks Butt Big Time!!! She worked from opening the store until closing the store on Sunday.  8am until 6pm.

  While my sister is at work on Sunday, in pain and tears she calls me "I need you to come.  I can't do this."  I left Florida that day at 1:30 something PM and arrived at her front door, in Chattanooga Tennessee, the same day at 11:30PM.  There was only two stops for gas. 

I wasn't stopping until I reached her.

  When I laid eyes on her, you could see the swelling in her face.  The large bags under her eyes.  Hear her cry's of pain.  See the misery in her face.  Because it was so late, we settled in that night, I knew the steps I had to take. 

  Monday morning I researched the internet, finding a local physician was the first thing on my list.  Making contact with my sisters employer was second on my list.  Contacting the local hospital and complaining about the quack physician who preformed the Spinal Tap, was third on my list.  All three things on my list was accomplished by Wednesday.  At that point, making sure my sister was able to rest, and get the medical attention she needed was all that mattered.  I really didn't {and don't} care who I pissed of to get my goal accomplished.  I spoke truthfully, directly, and honestly.  With a raised tone of course.

The Chattanooga area is breath taking...
  On Wednesday, of the week I arrived, I took my sister to a local physician.  With my mothers help, we were able to put Marry Ann in the car and help her walk into the Dr. Office.  It was not an easy task seeing my sister in so much pain.  Helping her get off the floor when her own legs wouldn't support her 110 pound frame.  Hearing her scream in pain just trying to change positions in bed.  Watching her walk while bent over because she could not even straighten up her back.  To put it into layman's terms, I was crushed watching her.   The physician I found on line, turned out to be a Godsend.  Noel, is the best medical professional I have ever come across.  She not only listened to my sister, but she heard every word she said.  Her quick action and recommendations set the pace to getting my sister back on track.   Noel suggested we returned back to Erlanger Hospital Downtown {where the Spinal Tap was done} and have what is called a Blood Patch.  Plus, Noel called the hospital ER before we even arrived and spoke to the anesthesiologist personally, giving them a heads up on what treatment she wanted my sister to receive.

  Let me explain.  When a Spinal Tap is done, and not done correctly, there is a chance the hole where the needle entered the spine area does not heal.  Therefore, spinal fluid leaks out, causing tremendous back pain and  excruciating headaches; which in return raises the blood pressure.  Most likely when my sister entered the hospital on that fateful Friday, the problem was simply an elevated blood pressure, which medication could have controlled.  By preforming the Spinal Tap {at the Hospital ER}, and not given the chance to rest properly {the fault of her job}, the hole became bigger due to the twisting bending lifting duties of her job.  The Anesthesiologist who preformed the Blood Patch said they took {withdrew from my sisters arm} two full vials of blood to patch the hole from the Spinal Tap. 

  The Blood Patch was actual blood from my sisters own body that was injected into the area where the Spinal Tap was done.  The needle is inserted into her back {just like the Spinal Tap} but the blood is released just shy of the spine.  The concession is her own blood platelets and red blood cells will attach to the area needing repair.  About an hour after the procedure we were able to see Marry Ann; when I asked how she was feeling she replied "So much better.  Much much better."  it was at this time, I knew the Blood Patch worked.  

  From this point onward she would be healing, resting, and staying calm and relaxed.  Making sure she kept to the tight restrictions given from the hospital and Noel, which would give her body the time needed in order to allow her blood platelets to work their magic.  

  The next day we revisited Noel at her office it was at this time my sister was put on Blood Medications.  The problem all along; High Blood Pressure.

She is on the road to recovery. 

****  Hey,  People of Chattanooga Tennessee  I have a suggestion for you ~ want to see an awesome physician group?  Check out Erlanger on Volkswagen Drive.  Make your appointments to see Noel. I wish I could put the whole medical team in my pocket and bring them all back to Florida with me.  This group is awesome!!  A team like that, is far and few between!!


  1. I am happy to hear that things are on the mend. Y'all have a safe trip back! Laurie

  2. I'm so glad they have your sister on the mend and she isn't suffering as she was.....GOD Bless that she had You who came from Florida that day to oversee her well being. How many others would have had to deal with on their own.... I often wish that as physicians (especially ER doctors ) would slow down a little and really listen to all that is going on. And if a second opinion is needed because they are unsure, they would just tell you so.....