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  • Myra Kenny

Thunderclap

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

As we sat waiting for results from tests, I was given some narcotic pain meds to help with the pain that was not responding to anything. As they began to work I started to breath a little easier, thinking that this was a good sign, that the pain would now be under control. That would only last about 10 minutes however, just long enough for us to take these photos to send to some family members showing that I was doing ok.

A moment of relief

Trying our best to look happy on Christmas, clearly the drugs were working well for me here


Suddenly the pain was back, even worse than before. I was yelling and clutching my head in pain, it was excruciating. In medicine, we call it a Thunderclap Headache and it is never a good thing. I had gone from smiling and laughing to crying in a matter of seconds. As Dr. Adler came rushing into my room, our eyes locked again, and I saw the fear in her eyes. She and I both knew whatever was happening was bad, that pain that can break through the amount of pain meds I was now on was a bad sign.


Being a Nurse Practitioner in this moment was actual a negative. While this situation would be terrifying for anyone, having the knowledge of what exactly could be causing these symptoms and just how serious it was does nothing to calm your fear. They often say ignorance is bliss and in that moment I wished for ignorance of medicine. The team rushed into action. Dr. Adler confidently told us that I would need an MRV, which is an MRI which looks at the veins and arteries to see if there are any blockages, but she would need to send me into Boston immediately because they could not do it there. And then she said she wanted to do a Lumbar puncture to check for meningitis in the meantime while they set up my transfer to Boston. As I lay there and she stuck a needle into my spine, I did my best to breathe and not move. And then she looked at Matt and told him to sit down, because she "did not have time for 2 patients right now." He watched her stick my spine multiple times and had now lost all color in his face and took the doctor's advice to sit down. Matt is the humanities portion of our relationship having studied political science in college and I am the science and medicine person. But bless him for sticking by my side through every second of this ordeal.


When she finally got into my spine and had my spinal fluid flowing out, she just said to us "well the fluid is clear, but its coming out at too high of a pressure. It's coming out too fast." The pressure of the fluid that surrounds your spine is directly correlated to the pressure of the fluid that surrounds your brain. The pressure was too high, so it was no wonder my head felt like it was actually going to explode, it honestly was trying to. The pressure around my brain was too much, it was crushing my brain. Now the question was why. I was loaded into an ambulance shortly afterwards and made the short journey into Boston.


Little did I know that this ambulance ride would be my last memories of 2018.

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