The doctors had no idea why I collapsed for a long time – too long. They were going to give me a spinal tap. My family was told you can’t have an MRI for 48 hours after a spinal tap. So my mother said to the brilliant doctor “why don’t you do an MRI first?” So they did. Good thing, I’d probably be dead had they done what they were originally gonna do. A spinal tap is performed to get some fluid out. The fluid that surrounds your spinal cord is called cerebrospinal fluid, it’s what they extract in a spinal tap – then they can test that fluid for infection, etc. Ok so, your spinal cord goes down to your second lumbar vertebrae, then it stops. But you have a bunch of nerves that keeps going down further. This bunch of nerves is called the cauda equina. Cauda equina means horse’s tail. This bunch of nerves looks like a horse’s tail. This is where they do a spinal tap because there’s no spinal cord there. When the cauda equina has a problem, that’s a really bad thing. It’s called Cauda Equina Syndrome. I would always ask my patients who had low back pain “are you having any problems urinating, defecating, any numbness when you wipe after you use the bathroom?” The cauda equina controls those things and if it is being pinched by a disc or something else that’s an emergency surgery situation. If that’s happening, it needs to stop happening ASAP. You can lose bowel and bladder control after a stroke, but it’s for an entirely different reason.