Thursday, August 30, 2007

Any Given Wednesday II: Bone Marrow Biopsy

The bone marrow biopsy is performed on me every 3-4 months. It is done to check to make sure there are not cancer cells in my bone marrow. And, just in case you're wondering, I remain in remission with a big fat ZERO leukemic cells. 18 months and not even a blip on the cancer radar screen.

Bone marrow is the spongy stuff found in the center of most of our bigger bones. For these biopsies, they usually take from the hip. They alternate between my left and right hip each time. For this procedure, I lie flat on my stomach.

Ready? Me neither.

Injecting the lidocaine actually creates a pocket of liquid under the skin (seen here). It burns a lot but obviously I can't imagine this procedure without it. They usually use a few syringes of it.

They insert anesthetic as deeply as possible. I can usually only feel the needle tap-tap-tapping on my pelvic bone as they numb the area.

Here, Adriana (my wonderful 7-months-preggers physician's assistant) is cutting a small slit into my skin. Apparently, this is her special trick to allow easier entry of the big needles. It also seems to allow the area to heal faster.

She leans her weight on this, twisting back and forth, and just bores down into the bone. This part hurts a bit; there is intense pressure.

Next is the worst part- they insert a needle within the "drill" and suck up an aspirate sample. There is this horrific jolt of sensation down my leg when this is done. Honestly, pain is so much easier to take than deep strange nerve reactions.

The marrow of me.

The drill just chillin' in me. I guess they all went for a coffee break or something.

Then, they do the actual biopsy, which is basically sucking up more marrow and bone, but it's done with a different needle. Where her thumb is pressing is the new needle going into the core.

This is the bits of marrow and bone from the 2nd needle.

Andres used to sing that Diana Ross song- "I'm coming out! I want the world to know, Got to let it show..." when he was done with a spinal tap or a bone marrow biopsy. The relief that the needle was coming out and it was over combined with his singing The Supremes in an Argentine accent usually had me laughing by the finish.

All done.

By the way, I've noticed bone marrow biopsies on House, Grey's Anatomy, and Scrubs and would like to dispel a little of the fear of pain they seem to exaggerate. This is not something I'd choose to do in my spare time or for kicks, but when this procedure could save the life of a bone marrow match, there's no question that it would be worth it. And you'd only have to get this done AFTER you'd already tested as a match for someone-- testing is a pain-free mouth swab. Have you been tested yet?


Leslie Edwards said...

Hello my little erica jean...I have been reading these most detailed blogs and I just have to say that I think it is absolutely amazing that you are documenting your Sabbath days the way you are. So cool (painful and sad, but way cool)! It's totally like the surgery channel where you don't want to see it, but you just have to look because you are so know what I mean? Anyway, I miss you and will call this weekend for a chat. Love from Cali - Leslie

Tom said...

Wow, didn't read your blog for a while and then I come back and see not one but two surgical procedures...very shocking at first, but also very open and honest. Thank you for sharing this. T.

Anna said...

Geez, this stuff makes me want to grind my teeth into powder. You are so strong. I can't wait until you are done.

Anonymous said...

Lets give a "YEEOOOWW!!" to 18 months of cancer free biopsies!
Followed by a "YEEEOOOUCH!" to the proceedure itself. Thank you for sharing, you are such a strong woman!