Looking back, I have limited recollection of that second visit to the emergency room. The next day, after spending the night in the hospital, I was told I arrived at the emergency room door crying and bent over “seemingly in distress and experiencing extraordinary pain.” That didn’t even begin to describe the agony I was in.
I do remember lying in a rollaway bed in the emergency room and listening to a doctor adamantly tell me I had one of three medical problems: 1) bleeding of the brain, 2) spinal meningitis, or 3) a tumor. I wasn’t able to process any of these possibilities; I was too ill to concentrate. I was helpless. It felt like my brain had shutdown. It was a horrible, surreal feeling.
Following that briefing, I was quickly taken into a private room for a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) so I could be tested for meningitis. I was told there was a tight and crucial window of diagnosis for meningitis as it can lead to serious complications. I found out more about those complications later: recurring migraines.
I tolerate needles, but being warned repeatedly by the medical personnel how dangerous a spinal tap was, even if I were to take a breath, scared me. A nurse was in front of my bed, cradling me, as a doctor inserted the needle into my spine. It was terrifying and painful, yet more manageable than the headache and sensitivity to light and sound that I was experiencing.
After the spinal tap, I was taken via wheelchair for more tests and then admitted to a private room in the hospital, where it was decided I would be quarantined. Everyone that entered my room had to wear full protective gear to guard against contagious illness. They told me they were waiting on test results to determine how to further handle my case. I was asked questions about recent travel, where I resided, what my daily schedule was, and how I spent my free time. I could barely think or remember anything, I was in so much pain.
Next, they began treating me for meningitis and after more test results were in, they said I had viral meningitis. Different IV’s were started. Fluids/nutrients and painkillers were pumping into my system at a steady rate. I remained in the hospital for another six days. I was too weak to even want to leave the bed, but nurses did get me up to make restroom trips.
The pain in my head was terrifying. It seemed as though each day was a repeat of the one prior. It felt like someone was shoving a knife in the back of my head, through the side of my eyes, and into the back of my eyes. I would get sharp pains from the back of my head around my upper face area. My neck hurt. I could feel the headache cutting through the last bit of painkiller when I was almost due for the next dosage.
Coming next: I was denied a neurologist