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Scariest epidural yet

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I had another epidural today. That makes 4 since the beginning of the year, and I'm scheduled for a 5th in 2 weeks. It's 5 so far if you count a double epidural as 2 (2 needles at the same time, one on each side of the disk).

Anyways, after the first epidural for a herniated disk at L5/S1 I got over my fear - so I thought. The next 2 went smoothly, I knew the drill.

Then I got a herniated disk in my neck in March at C4/C5. Here's where things got scary. In order to do a cervical epidural, they had to put the needle and catheter with guide-wire at around T2/T3, and then thread it up all the way using the guide wire to navigate through my spine. I didn't think too much about it until a doctor told me that some of the possible risks are nicking an artery or a stroke. I was thrilled to hear that.

So, anyways, I get in to the procedure center today and there is a lady ahead of me for the same thing. A cervical spine epidural. I'm waiting for my turn when all of a sudden things turn south. The poor lady crashes on the table and they have to isolate her while they debate how to get her to the ER at the hospital across the street.

Then... they call me in. Mind you, they haven't yet gotten her to the ER. While they're doing my epidural, they're all arguing in the room about how to get her to the ER. I'm laying there wondering how much they could possibly be concentrating on NOT sending ME to the ER TOO when they're arguing instead of concentrating as the needle, catheter, and wire gets shoved into my back.

Anyways.... all ended up fine I think. I'm pretty sore, but at least I didn't end up like that poor lady. That had to be the scariest epidural ever, possibly the scariest procedure I've ever had, second to my bowel resection surgery.

I thought I'd share as you can probably imagine what kind of terror came over me while on the table. It's a neat little story I guess.
post #2 of 14
glad you're okay
post #3 of 14
What is there to argue about? Call an ambulance!!!

Glad you're ok!!!
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
despite being terrified, I was able to make out most of the argument.

They can't legally wheel her to the ER even though the hospital is just across the street (and the street is a small parking lot). It has something to do with a licensing issue - at least that's my understanding.

If they call an ambulance, they were worried about freaking out current patients (basically like how they freaked me out).

Then they started discussing what equipment they had and decided to put her on an ECG until they could make up their mind.

I asked my father, who owns his own procedural medical center attached to his medical practice, what happens when they have an issue. He said, "We call an ambulance and stay with the patient until they arrive."

He was pretty dissapointed with how this doctor handled the situation by my account, especially because they know each other.
post #5 of 14
I would have refused to let them touch me until that woman was out of there, simply because I wouldn't want anyone distracted.

I wonder what happened? Did she possibly faint from the needle, they hit a nerve (10th) somehow and caused her to faint, maybe the local? Some faints can have asystole with them, others just have bad bradycardia that can look really spooky (drops to 30bpm, for example) because blood pressure shoots down, too.. If that was the case, and it was just from the needle or local - it wasn't their fault. Some people are like that.


I had a doctor trying to get me to consider getting my L4-L5 done a couple years ago. I was in a bad flare at the time but I backed out because I do have a pretty good likelihood of fainting. While I don't go asystole when I do, I didn't want to risk having epidural injection yet. Maybe when I stop having good days I'll do it.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
that was exactly what happened. Her blood pressure plummeted and her heart rate followed getting dangerously low. She was out cold after it happened. Just before it happened, she said she was having heart palpitations. Next thing I heard she was out and her heart-rate and blood pressure were in the toilet.
post #7 of 14
They should have called an ambulance despite freaking out the other patients. It would have freaked them out much more to see a body wheeled out under a sheet. When I worked in a doctors' office, we had to call ambulances on numerous occasions...you'd be surprised how many people go to their primary care physician instead of the ER in the midst of a heart attack. Anyway, I'm sorry you had a bad experience and hope you feel better soon. Many blessings...
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by LawGuy View Post
that was exactly what happened. Her blood pressure plummeted and her heart rate followed getting dangerously low. She was out cold after it happened. Just before it happened, she said she was having heart palpitations. Next thing I heard she was out and her heart-rate and blood pressure were in the toilet.
Poor woman. I wonder if she's ever fainted before or if not, will this trigger more for her? (it has for some).

Though it can look bad, it's pretty much harmless unless a person hits their head during a faint - or faints while driving. It just feels really bad for the person fainting.
And unless that person is injured in some way, there's absolutely nothing an ER can do for them. All they will do is give IV fluids and EKG. If you even mention vasovagal/neurocardiogenic syncope to ER staff they look lost.

The clinic staff did as much as the ER would. The rest is her responsibility to seek a cardiologist (she may already have one) for, as there are tests ERs can't do. The clinic staffs only mistake was flipping out.
post #9 of 14
That's so unprofessional.
post #10 of 14
glad you're all right, but what a great day at the hospital all round!
post #11 of 14
I can't believe the procedure center didn't already have a protocol in place for this type of occurrence. The outpatient surgery center at the hospital where I work has a policy in place, that if a patient needs to be admitted for any reason, they are taken by ambulance to the main hospital. I think it was rather unprofessional to continue with your procedure, while they were still dealing with the other patient. Since they were still discussing care and treatment of the lady, they were not giving you their undivided attention...which you were entitled to, and paying for. Does the procedure center have any type of feedback or satisfaction questionnaires for you to fill out? You might be able to bring this to their attention, so that it doesn't happen to anyone else!

I sincerely hope that your epidural does the trick for you! I'm scheduled for a bilateral lumbar facet block on 5/22. Mine is being done in the O.R. (where I work), so I don't have to share my staff with any other patients, lol!
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookie-poo View Post
I can't believe the procedure center didn't already have a protocol in place for this type of occurrence.
Have you or anyone you work with had to deal with any patients that have autonomic nervous system problems ie, syncope, POTS, CFS, pure autonomic failure, shy drager/MSA? If you don't think so, a little warning - they can be sensitive to weird things and their bodies may overreact to anesthesia or anything else given.
I warned all the OR staff before they even took me into the OR. I believe it surprised them that I was correct. My blood pressure went very low, but luckily they were prepared. I'm not sure what they would have done had I not warned them that my blood pressure and heart could possibly do something weird.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
Have you or anyone you work with had to deal with any patients that have autonomic nervous system problems ie, syncope, POTS, CFS, pure autonomic failure, shy drager/MSA? If you don't think so, a little warning - they can be sensitive to weird things and their bodies may overreact to anesthesia or anything else given.
I warned all the OR staff before they even took me into the OR. I believe it surprised them that I was correct. My blood pressure went very low, but luckily they were prepared. I'm not sure what they would have done had I not warned them that my blood pressure and heart could possibly do something weird.
Dealing with blood pressure and cardiac issues (regardless of cause, and there are SO many!) is what Anesthesiologists and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are trained to do. It's not really something I would worry about in the Operating Room setting. In an outpatient procedure center, without CRNAs or Anesthesiologists, or where an RN is administering and monitoring conscious sedation....I might have second thoughts!
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookie-poo View Post
Dealing with blood pressure and cardiac issues (regardless of cause, and there are SO many!) is what Anesthesiologists and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are trained to do. It's not really something I would worry about in the Operating Room setting. In an outpatient procedure center, without CRNAs or Anesthesiologists, or where an RN is administering and monitoring conscious sedation....I might have second thoughts!
I always have second thoughts. One of the people on a dysautonomia forum I'm a member of was seriously messed up because while getting an epidural she did what the woman in the OP's post did. They then gave her something in the ER while she was unconcious for the very low blood pressure and bradycardia that reacted badly for her - because she normally had tachycardia issues, too. She never could make out what was written down on the report - it was scribbled, but it was intended to increase heart rate. The end result was she didn't respond how even a person with a heart problem would (instead it tripped her ANS again) and she ended up really sick.
It's a big fear of mine simply because we're considered "rare", thus no one really gets training on how to deal with us. I dare you to go ahead and ask those you work with how they handle someone with POTS or pure autonomic failure.
It's why I'm also dragging my feet on getting my wisdom teeth out, among other things. If something happens and I'm unconcious I can't tell them "NO, I can't have that". I have considered a med alert bracelet, but I'm not sure if I really require one, yet.
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