Lumber Puncture and Migraine

In August 1993, my daughter and I moved to Connecticut. A neurologist in New York had recently diagnosed me with relapsing-remitting MS, in July 1993. Of course, I needed to find a new neurologist when we relocated. I soon located one.

Since I had only recently been diagnosed with MS, he wanted me to complete some additional diagnostic testing. This included undergoing a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap.

A lumbar puncture is capable of detecting the presence of oligoclonal banding, a series of proteins, in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid surrounds the brain and spinal cord, protecting them from injury.

Being a single mother of a first-grader, in a new area, I didn’t yet have a babysitter who could watch my daughter while I completed this diagnostic test. At my neurologist’s office, I listened to the rationale for completion of this test.

As I was doing so, I tried to keep my daughter distracted with some coloring books and crayons in the background. The procedure itself was extremely painful. A needle is extracted between two vertebrae, in the lumbar region, to extract a sample of CSF.

I was warned that it was extremely important to lie flat after this test, for at least a full hour, so as to prevent the development of a severe headache. In my situation, I simply didn’t have the option of doing so.

I needed to drive my daughter and myself home. As a result, I developed an excruciatingly painful headache. It lasted for an entire week. My lumbar puncture resulted indicated the presence of oligoclonal banding in my CSF.

My new neurologist was further convinced, therefore, that I had been accurately diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.

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