Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta stabs a giant needle into Uma Thurman’s sternum? Me and Uma? We have something in common.
Today was a day of poking and prodding (P&P). I’ve read that I must get used to this. My first appointment in my day of P&P was to get a second FNA biopsy. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s a quick needle biopsy performed directly on the tumor. My surgeon said that they needed better samples, and that if he didn’t get two really good ones, that he would need to get three or four. I told him “well then, get two good ones.” The good news is that he was successful and only had to get two. The bad news is that I get to spend another two weeks looking like the victim of domestic violence. The last FNA left me terribly bruised – so much so that the bruise hadn’t fully healed two weeks later.
Immediately after the FNA, we headed to the oncology center. I need to comment on their lovely lobby. It had a beautiful vaulted wood ceiling and an enclosure filled with beautiful brightly colored birds. Did it make me feel better? Not really. But I must admit it was a nice distraction.
My next round of P&P began shortly after we arrived. The nurse took my vitals which included about six tubes of blood. Robbie said I deserved a cookie. My blood pressure was a little high, but considering I can’t breathe and I’m at an oncology center I wasn’t too surprised. Next we meet with my oncologist. He basically spent our time together asking questions about my medical history and how this whole thing developed. We asked a few questions as well. At this point, he believes I have non-hodgkins large B cell lymphoma. I just looked this up online and it said “responds well to treatment.” By golly, at least that is a positive thing. He of course, wants to run a battery of tests, but said most likely we’d treat with chemotherapy in three week courses. As he was leaving the room he said he would talk to the person that would help to get some tests arranged including a bone-marrow biopsy.
A lovely nurse came in and asked me to follow her. She took me in another room and told me we’d be doing the bone marrow test RIGHT NOW. I hate to admit this, but I totally freaked out. I had read online that these were extremely painful and it was the one thing I’ve dreaded most in everything I read. Take my hair, BUT DON’T HURT ME. I asked Robbie to leave the room, which totally hurt his feelings. I didn’t want him to see me weak and freaking out. I told her that I read online that it was very painful and very difficult in overweight patients. She said I need to throw the computer away and that it would be fine.
Eventually I calmed down and the oncologist came in to perform the procedure. Unfortunately, I have some serious love handles and he didn’t feel comfortable that he could hit the right spot in my back. He said we had one other option. The sternum. He said that this procedure would be “uncomfortable”. Really? He prepped everything and numbed the area. Once numb, I could feel the pressure of him tapping on my bone, but at that point there was no pain. That was before they started sucking the marrow. I cannot even describe how “uncomfortable” it was. It is the worst feeling I can imagine and I can’t even describe it, but the good news is that it only last about 3 or 4 seconds. Twice. But then it was over, and he said he got enough material so I was relieved.
My future brings a PET Scan on Monday to determine if the cancer has spread. Wednesday I have a heart Ultrasound which is routine before starting chemotherapy, and the following Monday I meet with the oncologist again. At that point he will have all the test results and we will begin our attack. He also gave me some steroids to help me with my breathing. I just took one, and I really hope it will help me breathe better. I have holiday cookies to bake by Monday for our Annual Cookie for Clients Event!
I am glad that all the tests are scheduled and that soon we’ll have all the information necessary to start fighting this. I feel tired and I wish that the big jab in the chest would’ve been adrenaline like Uma was lucky enough to receive. But at least I’m a step closer to a resolution.
Thanks to Vicky and Alan for the post-biopsy wine. You guys rock.