This story was also published in our winter 2018 newsletter.

Leak location: Lumber Spine at L4-L5

Cause of leak: Instrumentation Puncture

Date of Onset: May 2009

Diagnostic Tests: Myleogram, CT Guided Myleogram

Treatments: Indomethocin, Gabapentin, Blind Blood Patches, Caffeine Infusion

Hello, my name is Peter Marnick and I am one of the Trustees and Treasurer for the CSF Leak Association. I’d like to give you a brief history of my leak story to date and how I am currently.

My leaker journey started in 2009 after two road traffic accidents within the space of two years. I was side impacted by one and had a rear shunt by another. I was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon who confirmed that disc degeneration had occurred at L4 L5 S1 of the spinal column. Relatively soon after this I started to get left sided sciatica and was referred to a pain management consultant. After conservative methods didn’t help, I had a course of steroid injections and physiotherapy to try and release the nerves that where being pinched by the lumber spine discs. The longest period of time that offered any kind of long-term relief was about four months. During this time I was still trying to hold down a job as a Flight Service Manager for Virgin Atlantic Airways. It was about a year to the date of the accident that I was flying to South Africa walking through the cabin when my back gave way. I was stretchered off and flown back via an air ambulance to Sheffield and then transferred to a private hospital. The procedure to perform a spinal fusion laminectomy was discussed as the only option. I was operated on and spent the best part of 6 weeks in hospital.

Arriving home, I was faced with many challenges and had to adapt my lifestyle accordingly. Around four days after being home I started to feel unwell. Every time I stood up, I felt sick and had this huge rush of pressure that felt like someone was dragging my brain south. I couldn’t eat for fear of being sick and no amount of pain medication helped. I remember an emergency doctor coming to look at me at home and saw this huge bulge at the site of the operation. You are leaking spinal fluid he said. You need to go right now and get that patched. About four hours later I was in another hospital in Sheffield about to have my first blood patch with fibrin glue. It worked for about three days and was then repeated. I subsequently contracted an infection from the procedure so was opened up again whilst they realigned the screw that had punctured my dura causing the leak.

About four years later and after being relatively symptom free, I started to get headaches when upright. Initially just one or two, then three, four, five a week. Then it was all the time. They diagnosed it as migraine. About one year later in 2013 I was referred to a neurologist. It’s new daily persistent headache, I was told within about twenty minutes of seeing him. I couldn’t have been happier and took the prescribed tablets, Nortriptyline (No Change), Indomethacin (No Change).

Having now been treated by three neurologists it is believed this is a slow leak and one that has not been picked up on any scan. I sometimes spend days in bed but I am what we refer to as a functional leaker. I had to leave my previous flying career of 28 years because of the problems with pressure. I am now trying to hold down a job as a Customer Experience Manager for East Midlands Trains. It’s proving challenging and I have to make lifestyle changes, but I’m grateful that I can at least feel like I have a purpose. I am also very proud to have been a Trustee of the charity since its inception, apart from a short period, for some personal time away. I am determined that we as a charity will make a difference and value your membership to allow us to continue to do so.

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