[unscripted]: Megan Dillon's Story

In the eighth episode of [unscripted], Megan Dillon shares how a bump on the head left her in debilitating pain that was misdiagnosed by physicians until she saw Mark Magner, MD. Follow along her inspiring journey to recovery.  

This is Megan's story, in her own words ... unscripted

Northern Kentucky raised, Nashville living

My name's Megan Dillon. I'm 30 years old. I grew up in Melbourne, Ky., right across the river here. I grew up an active kid. I love to sing. I love music and that's actually what took me to Nashville. I went there originally to play music and play gigs.

Ended up bartending, realized I was good at it, I was making good money and so I continued to pursue a career in the hospitality industry and still played music on the side because I love it and ... but I ended up managing different bars and restaurants in Nashville.

The head bump that changed everything

One morning at work, I was underneath of a staircase and I was stacking glass racks for storage and I was crouched down and I stood up and I whacked the back of my head on the steel staircase and I honestly didn't even think that I hit it that hard. It hurt. I doubled down and held my head, but I didn't think that it was anything serious. That's why I didn't file an incident report immediately. I waited until it had been almost a week.

Once you get into the workers' comp system, they give you a choice of three different doctors and you just blindly have to choose one. So, I chose one. I went to him and he didn't order any diagnostic testing. He told me I hold post-concussion syndrome and called me off work for three weeks and after those three weeks lying flat, of course I was feeling a little better. So, I tried to return to work and the first day I probably made it three hours into the day and I left in tears and had to pull over on my way home from work because I was crying so hard. I couldn't even see through my tears and that was basically every day after that and it was absolutely debilitating.

The worst, most intense pain I've ever felt in my life. I kept going to my general practitioner in Nashville. She didn't know what to do for me. I would show up in her office crying at least once a week and they just kept prescribing me more and more migraine medication, which wasn't helping. I found a new neurologist and he sent me to a neurosurgeon, who then suspected a leak but didn't definitely diagnose one. At that point, I had just had enough of doctors passing me around and enough ER visits. I'd probably gone to the ER multiple times a month for the entirety of this just because the pain was so intense that I didn't know where else to go. No one would listen to me. So, I just kept going to the ER and they kept telling me to follow-up with my neurosurgeon who wasn't ordering testing.

The pain that became loss

This condition, it robbed me of a lot of things. I lost my job, I lost a relationship I was in, I lost my independence, I didn't even get to make it to my father's funeral because it was 45 minutes away and I couldn't even tolerate a car ride for that long. So, it was devastating. It got to a point where I was like, "I can't live like this. I won't live like this. If I have to live like this for the rest of my life, I'm not gonna do it." My mom convinced me to come home to Cincinnati, where I was born and raised and she has actually worked at The Christ Hospital for over 30 years and she knew exactly where to send me.

A new hope

When I met Mark Magner, MD, I knew I was in good hands. He seemed so smart and he listened to me and every step of the way, we decided together what the next course of treatment would be. He explained everything so thoroughly and I felt like for the first time in this entire journey that I actually had a voice and I had an advocate and I had somebody on my side and he was willing to do whatever it took to figure it out and make it better. The nurse practitioner. Faye Smith, returned all of my phone calls when I would call asking a million questions. They were both really great.

A cerebral spinal fluid leak is when there's a hole or a tear or a puncture in your dura. Your dura is the membrane that surrounds your brain and your spinal cord and it holds your spinal fluid, which your brain should be floating in. However, when you have a CSF leak and that fluid drains out and your brain is no longer floating, that is what causes the serious pain that I've described.

So, waking up after surgery, I felt immediately better. I knew as soon as I sat up and I didn't feel that rush of pain, that it was a great, great sign and that we were off to a really good start. The surgery and the treatment was honestly the easiest part of this entire experience. I had surgery in October and I was back to work in November. So, to say that Dr. Magner gave me my life back is an understatement. I truly, truly mean that. I got my life back.

Words of advice

To others that are going through a similar situation where physicians are listening to them or turning them away, telling them nothing's wrong with them, know your body. Know your body and really push for a proper diagnosis. Fight for it and if one doctor won't listen to you, find one that will, 'cause I did.

Learn more about how our experts at The Christ Hospital Joint & Spine Center can help change your life.