SAN ANTONIO (WOAI/KABB) — A San Antonio woman is still in shock after she says a Covid nasal swab test went horribly wrong.
"It hurt, it was an immediate instant migraine," says Chari Timm. "I’ve never had a migraine ever in my life."
Chari was in need of a heart diagnostic test and protocol states she had to test negative for Covid before they could run any tests. She says the swab was inserted in her nose and she instantly felt pain.
"It started from the back of my head and just extend it to the front of my head and my entire brain was an extreme pain," she says. "Instantly fluid just was leaking out of my nose."
Chari was leaking spinal fluid.
A neurologist from Methodist and an ear, nose and throat doctor diagnosed her with pneumocephalus days later.
Pneumocephalus is when there has been a rupture in the dural membrane, or the lining that’s around the brain, which allows air to enter the space that’s normally occupied by the head.
Experts say it's rare, but they aren't surprised it happened.
"Patients are asked to tilt their head back and the trajectory is more parallel to the nostril, the bridge of the nose and that's what can bring the that swab further up and put you in a range of potentially having that Covid swab then rupture the dural membranes," says ENT specialist Spencer Payne.
Fortunately, there is a procedure to fix the hole, that would be a laparoscopy.
While it's unlikely it'll happen to you , if you feel uncomfortable when getting swabbed, speak up.
"It’s important that swab be directed as straight back as possible," says Payne. "Patients should be empowered to understand that anatomy and direct their care if they think their swab is going in the wrong direction."
As for Chari she knows the pain is temporary and is looking forward to a better nose.
"I have to remain optimistic and positive," she says. "I know that I’m in good hands, I’m going to be fine."
If you'd like to help Chari pay for her procedure, click here.