Monday, August 13, 2012

next ........

I found an oncologist. A nice enough guy and certainly capable but awfully busy and perhaps a bit over worked. I felt that a connection was needed to put this whole Having Cancer business on a human level. I wasn't able to get that. He spent a lot of time looking at my paperwork and not at me. That wasn’t the best start to a doctor/patient relationship, but I figured if things didn’t work out I’d find another oncologist.
His first order of business was to find out just what was going on. He suspected
a low-grade Lymphoma of some sort, but initial exams and blood work was unrevealing.

He then ordered a CT scan - guided needle biopsy and a full-body ct scan. The biopsy procedure was described as using a CT scanner to guide the placement of a hollow, stainless steel needle as much as 3 inches into my guts to get some cells from an affected lymph node. It occurred to me that having a steel spike driven that deeply into my belly might be a bit painful so I asked if such a procedure could be performed with me being unconscious. He said yes. So, the biopsy procedure would be performed with me being anesthetized.

The day of the procedure arrived. For prep, they gave me a big glass of contrast for the full-body scan. Someone came in a few minutes later and told me the contrast was given prematurely and I would not be given the general anesthetic because I now had something in my stomach and might choke on my own vomit.

That’s what killed Hendrix.

I was not pleased by this news.

Then the contrast gave me the shits.

Things were getting worse by the minute.

Next they wheeled me into the CT scan lab and the doctor who would be performing the procedure came in, sat down and got down to business. He didn't introduce himself.
Asshole…

The way this sort of thing works is they do a scan, insert this big needle, take another scan, move the needle around, take another scan and so on. Keep in mind
I was awake though all of this. To say it was painful would have been something of an understatement. He'd move the needle. Take a sample and send it to the lab.
Wait. Repeat as necessary. It would hurt like hell. I'd tense up. Asshole would say ......

Just relax, okay?

I'm thinking to myself ........ You've got something that feels like a 10-penny
nail jammed in my guts and you want me to relax? Fuck you relax! Let me jam the fuckin' thing in YOUR guts and let’s see YOU relax, fucker!
This went on for a while. An attending nurse, an Angel, offered to give me some "medicine" for the pain, which turned out to be morphine. She would give me two shots of "medicine" during the course of the procedure. It did nothing for the pain, but got me totally fucked up. I figure that was ok. If I was gonna be in a lot of pain because some moreon screwed up with the contrast, the absolute least they could do, was drug the hell out of me for my trouble.

Finally it ended. The Asshole left the room. They sent me home.

The day of the follow-up with my oncologist arrived. The doctor came in, and looked at my paperwork and said ....

It looks like they didn't get enough cellular matter. I can't make a diagnosis…..

That really wasn't what I wanted to hear. I thought ...

Sweet Christ! You're telling me that I went through unmitigated hell for nothing?

Before I could say anything he went on ....
….and I'm sorry about that and it looks like they screwed up with the contrast so you were awake through the whole thing. Sorry about that.

Sorry doesn't change much in my case, but , I figured, what the hell. Move on.

So, we decided that we'd move forward, but not repeat the needle biopsy. This time he wanted me to undergo laparoscopic surgery to get an adequate sampling. He also said he wanted a bone marrow biopsy as well. I knew about that. A Lymphoma survivor I had met talked about it. They take a core sample of bone marrow out of your hip. They use an electric drill-thingee. It really hurts. He assured me I’d be out for both procedures.

It was encouraging.

What would happen next will be another story.