Following my post from last Thursday about my admission to hospital, at the end of which, you will remember, I was waiting for a transfer to a neuro unit somewhere in the UK, the epic story of a simple headache continued for the next 6 days before finally reaching an inconclusive conclusion on my 29th birthday this last Wednesday.

I was (eventually) moved to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where their neuro unit is considered to be one of the best in the country. On top of which, it was significantly easier for my family to come across and visit than a stay in central London would have been.

The Saturday after I arrived I was prepped and sent for a CT Angiogram, which is a regular CT scan1 plus a big bolus push of iodine-based contrast-dye to highlight all of the blood vessels. The idea was to look for aneurysms or weakenings in the walls of the blood vessels that usually show as small bubbles of blood. The concern with any aneurysm is that it could rupture and cause major bleeding on the brain, which in turn can cause strokes or even death.

The didn’t find anything.

It was at this point that the suspected diagnosis was made clearer to me through the far more¬†knowledgeable¬†nursing and medical staff at the JR; they suspected what’s called a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage. Here’s a couple of quick definitions to save me boring you to death if you couldn’t care less about the rest of the medical jargon and info.

I then spent the rest of the weekend locked up on the ward on 4-hourly obs and not allowed to stray for more than 30 minutes and then only if accompanied by a family member. Strict isn’t the word, but then I suppose the kind of issues they deal with are much more serious than most of the hospital wards I have frequented in the past, where a minor hiccup is unlikely to lead to instant chronic brain failure or death.

On Sunday afternoon, I was told by the weekend doctor that he suspected the LP from Harefield had been a false positive from the two failed attempts before the successful one2 and that further tests were unlikely to be ordered.

To my surprise, then, I was consented for a cerebral angiogram first thing on Monday morning, with no real explanation of the reasons beyond the fact that it’s the best test to check or aneurysms. Clearly, the weekend doc wasn’t the one in charge of my case and made a slightly sweeping statement in leading me to believe all was well and I’d be on my way home as soon as the docs on my case could process the discharge paperwork.

Waiting around, nil-by-mouth, all day for a procedure you don’t know a huge amount about is slightly frustrating, but not nearly so much as being told ten minutes after lunch has been round that they won’t be performing it that day.

I would go on to have the full angio the following morning, but that’s a whole story in itself.

The epic adventure continues tomorrow….

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    Nope, we got nada!

  1. of the kind I’d had to Harefield the day I was first admitted []
  2. meaning the sample was contaminated by blood from outside the CSF []