Hydrocephalus had me on my knees last weekend(literally)
Saturday I woke up with a lightly beating headache. I opened my eyes and thought “okay…how bad are you gonna get?” The day passed by with little to no drama and no escalation in the pain. I was thankful at the end of the day…because I made it through unscathed.
We had a friend stay over that night. He was only too happy to be playing games on the PlayStation with the boys as I retreated to the sanctuary of my bedroom. I went to bed at a good hour and didn’t even turn on my phone or laptop as I normally do…I felt exhausted.
The next morning, I woke up again with a headache lurking below the surface. The same thought from the previous morning popped into my head. I got out of bed, made some donuts and coffee for the boys before they woke up…it was a good start to the day. My 5 year old daughter had a play date at 10, which was perfect because it meant I had time to myself “Oh what to do? What to do?”
Driving back home after dropping her, I thought “I’ve got a headache. I have no idea if it’ll get any worse but how will my husband know?” Besides, if it did get worse, I wasn’t sure if I’d be in a position to communicate as much. It was a valid question. When I got home, I made a point of telling him exactly how I was feeling. Within an hour, the beating escalated and I knew this was going to get ugly. I was nauseous and my mood started changing and not for the better. I could feel myself becoming irritable at the most insignificant thing. I continued with my chores of cleaning up and doing the laundry, though I could feel my body slowly becoming lethargic and rebelling against movement.
The rest of the household were unaware of what I was silently enduring, playing games and totally oblivious. Reaching for some Ondansetron, for the nausea and Codeine, the strongest pain killers I have, I knew normal Paracetamol just wouldn’t be effective. Also, Codeine makes you constipated and as the surgeon told me before, “You don’t need that kind of pressure” I would deal with the effects of it later…
I retreated to my bedroom yet again and sat on the bed. Dizziness rising, pain increasing and nausea as if I were out on a boat on the choppy ocean. I felt myself becoming hot and sweaty…lying down did not ease the pain or help the nausea. Standing up didn’t help either.
My limbs felt weak and numb, moving even a finger caused my stomach to churn.
I went to the bathroom and hugged the toilet bowl like a long lost friend. Though nothing would come…I knew this was all that stood between home and a trip to the Hospital. My head was throbbing and I was hot…I put my cheek against the cold seat but felt too limp to hold myself up. Closing my eyes, I sat like that for a while and eventually got up. Holding onto the vanity cupboard, my head in my hands, massaging the pain and willing it to stop. I started to cry because the pain was that bad, the nausea was unbearable and not knowing what the hell this would lead to…
Thankfully my husband came and checked on me. He held me close and I just broke down crying “I can’t take this anymore…I’m scared…” Being in his arms felt good because for just a little while, someone else could carry the weight of all this. He suggested I lie on the bed in a semi-upright position, placed a bucket next to the bed, in case I needed to vomit, and left me to rest. I covered my head with the blanket as the darkness seemed to provide a different kind of comfort.
Later, when my daughter came home, I was only too happy for her to find a distraction in the iPad. She’d jump onto the bed to give me the occasional tight squeeze, gentle kiss and whisper “I love you so much…because you are beautiful” (a few times in fact), as she normally did when I had a lie down. I couldn’t give her much attention or care especially not in this state…I barely had energy to take care of myself. I fell asleep a couple of times and would wake up every time my affectionate darling would come into the room.
As darkness came, I felt some relief. Lying still and thankful that this did not end in a hospital visit. I think the worst thing that could have happened is to be treated for pain and sent right back home. In that case, I was happy to be right where I was. I can’t say that the episode didn’t scare me, it made me wary of what could be causing this and if there is some underlying issue…BUT, that won’t get me anywhere so pondering about it, is a waste of my time and energy. I have my instructions from the Neurosurgeon I saw, “headache accompanied by vomiting…go to hospital”.
A day later and my body still hadn’t recovered. I felt like someone who had a bad hangover…but went to work nonetheless. It took every bit of strength I had left to mask what had happened the day before and function as normally as I possibly could. When I got home that night, I told my husband “My brain feels bruised…like it’s been in a fight“.
This is the scary thing about Hydrocephalus. Not knowing what is causing these symptoms…is it closure of my ETV? Is it anything serious and just how reactive do I have to be?
Well…it’s a couple of days later and my brain still feels slightly unsettled, like its floating inside my skull. I still have moments of nausea and dizziness but the headache is gone. My body is returning to normal and I’m even smiling again. I know though, there will be another episode…I just don’t know when…
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I blog about Hydrocephalus to give a voice to the millions of people around the world with this condition. As much as these experiences are unique to me, I’m sure others have experienced it too. My aim…to shine a light on it and raise awareness – simple and challenging at the same time but worth it!