So far this week I have learned several new phrases that will fill me with dread if I ever hear them again in the future.
Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) and Sudden Intracranial Hypotension, or as I like to call it – the mother of all headaches!
I was admitted to hospital last week for a lumbar puncture – a procedure that I decided to google prior to my arrival. Not my best move. Being a fan of fantasy, sci-fi and horror I was able to gloss over the invasive procedural facts and use my new found knowledge to my advantage. Flash fiction stories poured from my quivering fingers as I let out my anxiety on the blank screen before me.
Closing my google search bar, and finally understanding how anyone can go from headache to clinically dead in three clicks, I prepared for my day patient adventure.
I listened patiently as my dad gave me a blow by blow account of his full English breakfast on the drive to the hospital, never once daring to mention my nil by mouth predicament.
The consultant was pleasant, with steady hands, and the nurses were lovely and attentive. I was ushered into a fetching nightgown and double wrapped to avoid flashing my ample behind to the man in room 5. We took the leisurely stroll to the x-ray department where I was stretched out beneath the machine with my spine exposed.
It was at this point I recalled that Falling Skies is due to return to our screens in June. For any sci-fi fans out there, then I’m sure you understand where I’m going with this. The alien machines began whirring and jolting around me. I felt the pressure on my spine as the needle slid into my flesh and pierced through to the CSF, draining out the sample that would be rushed off for testing.
My meditation breathing wasn’t working as well as I’d hoped, and I was convinced that I could hear skitters in the room. It was the most nerve-wracking procedure I’ve had – and I’ve had three kids!!
Putting aside my fears of being harnessed to an intergalactic race of aliens, I lay horizontal for an hour, as advised by the nurses. Everything was going fairly well until I stood up. This is when I realised that you don’t miss your cerebrospinal fluid until it’s gone.
Five days later and I am typing this post from that same supine position in my bedroom. I have a crick in my neck from tweeting and Facebooking via my phone and I can’t begin to explain the ache in my backside from laying down for such a long time.
The worst of this has to be the excruciating headache. By day three, I started to believe that an alien species was, in fact, responsible for my predicament. Pain couldn’t be this bad, surely! As it turns out – thanks to another google search – my normally well-cushioned brain has been banging around my skull due to the lower than normal volume of CSF. Imagine a night out on the town, WAY too many mojitos, followed by the whirling pits. Now amplify that by a million and discovering that putting your foot on the floor to stop the spinning won’t help!
At best, I can sit up or stand for fifteen minutes before I need to resume my level position. Nausea, dizziness and an odd ringing in the ears all work to confirm my alien suspicions.
As a writer, we can use our life experiences to help evolve our stories. To create realistic scenes and characters. After my jaunt to the hospital, I am in the mood for sci-fi, and I am now a hundred percent convinced that the creator of Falling Skies, Robert Rodat, has had a lumbar puncture!