Mar 22


March 22nd, 2004.

Today was biopsy day for me at Washington Memorial Hospital, where a doctor, some nurses and a few technicians worked together to pull some pieces off Marvin to have a look at the little bugger. It had it’s ups and downs, but overall, I’d prefer not to have to do this very often.

We arrived at the hospital and went straight to the admissions area, getting there just before 9:am. A lady there confirmed my information, made a phone call to someone else in the hospital to tell them I’d arrived, had me sign some forms, and we were on our way to the ‘short stay unit’. This was the same part of the hospital where I’d gotten my Rituxan after the Rituxan shock freak-out I put Pam through in the doc’s office a few months ago. As we walked toward the unit, I wondered if they’d managed to get rid of the lopsided bed yet.

Actually, it took a while for me to remember that event at all. On the way there, the nurse asked if I’d been to the ‘short stay unit’ before, and I couldn’t remember. Chalk it up to ‘Chemo-Brain’. As we walked toward it, I said it seemed pretty familiar, and mom reminded me of the Rituxan I had done there. Then it all came back to me, including the lopsided bed.

When we got there, she went straight to the room I was supposed to be in, but there was already someone there. Oops. So she went off to the nurse’s station to get me another room number. Here she is coming back with the info:

Image of hospital hallway

She got me into the correct room, and instructed me to take off everything and put on the hospital gown and some hospital socks. I put all my things into a ‘patient bag’ and stored it in the closet, along with my jacket. Mom took a pic of me in my new and very stylish hospital ensemble:

Image of Buck in hospital gown

After that, I got comfy in the bed and watched some TV while I waited for the next thing to happen. Over the next couple of hours, nurses came in with questions to answer about allergies and surgeries I may have had, medical history stuff, paperwork to initial and sign, draw blood, set up an IV, take my blood pressure, and stuff like that. Here’s my IV setup:

Image of IV setup

They brought in another guy for bed #2, and his family was with him, including a small child that seemed to enjoy screaming very much. A nurse blew up a latex glove like a balloon and gave it to him, but he didn’t seem terribly impressed, and the screaming continued.

I was saved by a pretty nurse who came in saying she liked my name. I suggested we run off together, but she was married. We flirted a bit, which was fun, and she thought it was really nice that the lady sitting there with me was okay with it all. We explained that she’s my mom. That happens all the time. Everyone just assumes she’s my wife. Mom said later that she’s going to get a T-Shirt that says “I’m his MOM”. Hehehe. Anyway, the pretty nurse rolled me out of there and through the hospital to a CAT scanning room that was set up a bit different than the other CAT scanning rooms I’ve ever been in. Of course, it had the big doughnut machine in it, but it also had a lot of other medical type equipment hanging around, which is unusual. Usually, it’s just the machine and the bare essentials for it’s operation. So here we are:

Image of scanner

That’s me and my arm in the rolling bed on the right. I REALLY wish I’d asked what that gun / drill looking thing on the left is. Below is another look at the machine, and you can see the top of it here, with it’s digital display:

Image of scanner

About this time, the doctor that was going to be doing the fun parts came in and explained it all to me. She said that they’d be going in through my back to get to the mass. It’s located in a rather precarious area, very close to my aorta, which is a major blood vessel. She explained that if they accidentally hit it, I’ll lose some blood, will probably need a transfusion, and things could get a bit hairy, but not to worry. Hehe. She’ll put a needle into me that’s like a tube. Inside that, she’ll insert an instrument that will reach down to where Marvin is, and use it to extract material to be looked at. Depending on the sample, she may have to go in more than once, so it could take awhile. They’ll keep monitoring where she is in relation to the aorta and Marvin with the CAT scan machine.

Next, they transferred me off my wheeled gurney onto the machine’s special table that moves up and down and in and out of the doughnut hole. This is the first time I’ve gotten a CAT scan laying on my belly, but the idea was that they were going in for surgery through my back, and they were going to do it right there, while monitoring where exactly they were inside me with the CAT scanning machine. Another pretty nurse is there getting things ready.

Image of Buck ready for scanning

Next, the technician slid me into the machine and started the first of a lot of scans:

Image of Buck in the scanner

About that time, they made mom leave with the camera, so that’s it on the pics in there.

Back to the doc and her work. She’d numb up the area with Lanocaine, which is like the stuff the dentist uses. She warned me that it would burn and sting like a bee, and that it would be no fun as she worked it through all the muscle tissue back there, but that it would all be over soon. They asked me to lie still, but it was pretty much impossible. Each time that needle went in and injected more of the stuff, I automatically spasmed. A few of them caused a sensation like an electrical shock to the front of my stomach, and it was quite a jolt. I pretty much came right up off the table on those, and they decided to give me a little something to calm me down. They suggested morphine, but I really hated that stuff when they gave it to me back in Knoxville. I told them it was like being smothered, and I really didn’t like it. They suggested a few other drugs instead, but I didn’t know anything about them. They settled for something akin to Valium, and injected it into the IV. Pretty soon, I was a lot calmer, and they continued with the injections to numb me up. Finally, and with much relief, I was feeling no pain.

A couple more scans after all my moving around, and she was ready to get started. I couldn’t feel anything but a little pressure, but I understood she was inserting the tube that she talked about earlier. Then the instrument went down into it, and I heard a couple snapping noises, like clicking metal. Out it came again, and she deposited the tiny bits-O-Marvin onto a glass microscope slide and handed them over to a specialist who was there to examine them.

They all repeated the process several times, until she said I was all done. They put a band aid over the hole in my back, and the doc explained that it would feel a bit bruised for a few days. After that, they had me get back onto my rolling gurney, wished me a nice day, and rolled me back to my room in the ‘short stay’ unit. Actually, they rolled me into a different room there, but they’d already transferred my stuff from the closet for me, so I was all set. I flipped on the TV and waited for the next thing, which I hoped was lunch. Because I was instructed to fast past midnight the night before, I was starving.

Pretty soon, a woman walked in and asked how I was doing and could she do anything for me. I said, “Please tell me you’re the lunch lady!” She said, “Oh my! I’ve been demoted!” We laughed and I asked what she really was, and she told me she’s a registered nurse, there to check up on me and see if I’m in any pain or anything. I told her I was having no pain or discomfort at all, I was just hungry as could be. She said she could find me something to eat, and asked if I’d like a turkey sandwich or a cheese sandwich. I said, “How about a turkey WITH cheese sandwich?!” Hehehe…. Off she went in search of some food for me. She was back in a few minutes with a turkey sandwich, some salad, cookies, a banana and a root beer. I scarfed them up, and went back to watching TV.

Not long after, another nurse walked in and asked if I was ready to get dressed and get out of there. I was all for it, and wasted no time. By then, it was close to 2:pm. When I got home, the hospital called to check on me one last time, and I let them know that everything was still fine here. Then I crashed out for a few hours to drain off the last of the drugs they’d given me. When I woke up, mom took a picture of the site where the doc had been working:

Image of Marvin Extraction site on Buck's back

And that’s about all there is to it. Now that the drugs have worn off, it feels a bit sore and bruised, but not too bad at all. Kinda stiff, and I’m favoring it when I move around. No big deal though.

I don’t have anything else scheduled now for over two weeks, till April 7th, when I’m supposed to see the doc again. No doubt, by then he’ll have the biopsy report, and we’ll have a talk about it and Marvin again, and see what he thinks about it all.

If anything comes up before then, I’ll be sure to let you know.