Monday, June 9, 2008

My Bone Marrow Biopsy

I take the day off work since I'm too stressed out. I can barely think straight and can't concentrate for anything. Wendy and I drive up to Dr. Cohen's office for the appointment. Neither of us is really speaking much.

At the Dr's, I get my blood drawn again. It takes forever and I can't figure out why. The oncology nurse actually comes in and inquires about the holdup. I finally get four vials of blood drawn.

When we're called back to the exam room Wendy is allowed to accompany me. We sit and listen while the nurse explains the procedure for us. I will be locally anesthetized at my right rear hip bone. A large needle will be forced into the bone there until it reaches the marrow. Then a small needle will be inserted inside this large needle so that marrow can be sucked out. After this, the large needle will be driven deeper into my bone. The doctor will break off a small piece inside the needle and extract it. The entire procedure should take about 15 minutes.

My face is pale.

The doctor goes over my current blood test from today. My white count is 70,000. Apparently this is good, it hasn't risen too much since Friday. It's likely that I'm still in the chronic phase of the leukemia.

The doctor has Wendy leave the room for her own safety. Apparently the needle is really big and people tend to pass out. I realize that the needle is not out on the table. It's hidden. Dr. Cohen lays me on my back, pulls my pants half off and tells me to roll on my side and face the wall. My right leg is pushed up toward my chest and my ass is covered with a sheet. ("So the nurse doesn't pass out when she comes in", he says. I laugh feebly.) My hands are positioned in front of my face as if I were sleeping.

The lidocaine burns like a bitch going in. The nurse comes in the room to assist, though I can't see anything at this point. My face is practically against the wall. The Dr. says I'm going to feel some pressure. I definitely do. It doesn't hurt but I can feel him pushing this giant needle into my bone. The pressure is quite intense. It sounds like he's using some sort of clamping mechanism to drive the needle in. After a couple of minutes he explains that he's inserting the small needle inside the larger one now. I don't feel anything.

Then I feel the nurse grab my legs and hold me down. The Dr. says, "If anything hurts, it'll be this. Are you ready?" Oh shit, I think, and answer "Yes".

It hurt. It hurt a lot. I describe it as a pain orgasm. Very short, but very, very intense. There were shooting pains down my right leg. If felt as if the marrow were being sucked out of every bone from my hip to my ankle. I cry out, though I'm not proud of it. Then in an instant, the pain is gone and it's like it never happened.

I'm breathing heavily, trying to calm myself down. I feel a little light headed. The Dr. says he's going to shake me around some now. It won't hurt, but I'll feel the pressure. He literally shakes me around by the hip. Throwing me toward the wall, the jerking me back. I can feel the needle in my bone as pressure. He's pushing and pulling and I can feel the strain on the cartilege where my hip bones meet in back he's using so much force.

Finally, he says were done. He bandages me up and helps me sit up. I'm light headed and sit with my head between my knees for a few minutes. Wendy comes in and the nurse gets me a glass of water. I can see the blood and iodine on the paper table cover.

All in all, it wasn't that bad. It's certainly not something I'd like to repeat but except for momentary intense shooting pain, it was more uncomfortable and strange than anything else.

The doctor tells us that based on the blood tests, he's pretty sure that it's cml. The biopsy will confirm this when the results are back. Wendy cries. I'm numb.

I make Wendy take me to get gelatto before we go home.

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