Once again I had excellent care for my procedure. Dr. Sandman, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the biopsy, explained everything in great detail. He showed me the images from the PET / CT scan and explained that the suspicious area is in a high support area for bearing my weight. Therefore, he was not able to take out the entire amount shown on the PET scan because it would make my bone too weak to support me. Just taking out this small amount makes my femur susceptible to a fracture, which is why he is recommending three weeks with crutches or a walker. That piece of information would have been helpful to know before the day of the surgery. It certainly would have given me the motivation to clean my house and make freezer meals. Now I am at the mercy of the men in my family to help me out.
So I have been taken back by how much pain there is for just a biopsy. My colleague and friend recently had hip surgery, and I can’t imagine how much worse that must have been. I have new sympathy for her all over again. This is the first time I’ve needed to take the full amount of pain medication prescribed, and I am feeling little relief with it. It will take one to two weeks to receive the results.
The staff at my school provided me with some homework during my recovery. Each person anonymously wrote down an interesting fact about himself / herself in which I needed to pair their pictures. Some are easy such as this one:
Some are not so easy and may cause hard feelings if I get it wrong, such as the person who frequently walked through warm cow poop as a youngster, the one who flunked drivers ed, or the person who made up a pretend boyfriend. I will plead that I was “under the influence of pain meds” if it goes badly. The task is a clever way to keep me entertained and lifts my spirits!
Is 41:10: Be still and know that I am God.
My biopsy is rescheduled for January 28th at St. Mary’s Hospital. According to the nurse it will be an open biopsy performed by an orthopedic surgeon under general anesthesia. Let’s hope this time it delivers the needed information.
Last week I attended the Lacks Cancer Center Advisory Board meeting, which is made up of twelve patients and several employees of Lacks. The board’s purpose is to provide feedback on what the cancer center is doing well and in what areas they could improve. I feel blessed to have received such great medical and spiritual care at Lacks. There is a personal touch when the receptionist greets you by name before you’ve even registered and the valet always asks how you are doing. While I believe most staff are well-meaning, sometimes they don’t know how to best serve their clients because they are not the ones directly going through the experience. Even though we have only had three meetings, the center has already made numerous changes based on our feedback. Having our voices heard is empowering, and I feel privileged to hopefully make a difference in a future cancer patient’s life with these improvements.
I was quite surprised at the first board meeting when each person was asked to share an interesting personal fact. I was sitting next to Kenda Klotz, the clinical service director of Lacks, who shared that she grew up in the small town of Trufant. Probing further, I discovered she and Richard rode the same bus to school. What a small world! This weekend our internet connection was down, and you would think the world came to an end for my boys. I have to admit, at first I felt a little lost as well. But we settled in, and had the most splendid time just being together and playing games with friends. Sometimes it is good to get back to the basics.
Dr. Brader called to tell me the biopsy didn’t show anything. Imagine my large sigh of relief and my emerging state of glee. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. He continued to say that they are not confident that the sample was “diagnostically sound” as there wasn’t enough tissue in the sample. The plan is to contact an orthopedic surgeon to determine if he can obtain a better sample. Apparently the area to be biopsied is in a difficult location to reach.
I am trying to subdue the panic regarding having another, more involved biopsy. The verse Isaiah 26:3 comes to mind: “He will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” I remind myself to keep my focus on God. Fear comes when I play the “what if” game and imagine every possible scenario of the future. It is best when I just focus on the present moment and take one step at a time. I am praying to trust God and be obedient to his plan for me.
As a side note, when you see me next, please check to see if I am sporting my new black boots. As the queen of second-hand stores and a good deal, I know you will find it hard to believe that I paid full price. I told Richard I was not in my right mind today while making the purchase but really they were too cute and comfy to pass up. Hey, maybe they will let me wear them during my next biopsy :0)
Phil 4:8 “finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
I was peaceful going into my procedure yesterday as I knew I would be sedated. Sedated to me means asleep and unable to remember any of the process. I had a slight freak-out when I found I would be sedated but awake for the procedure and that it was a biopsy from MY BONE. The whole time I assumed the suspicious spot was in the tissue around the femur, not in the femur itself. The radiologist’s spiel didn’t help my nerves either as he went into worst case scenarios for the procedure: possible blood transfusion which puts you at risk for HIV and AIDS and then possible emergency surgery to stop the bleeding, that the surrounding area could be numbed but not the bone so I may feel a sharp pain during the biopsy.
Well, I worked myself up more than needed as the process, while somewhat humiliating, was not that painful (at least in the scheme of other procedures I have endured). I made the doctor tell me everything he was doing before he did it and at one point, he says “here comes the drill”. It felt and sounded like a drill but with very little pain. The doctor felt that he obtained a good specimen and I should know the results by Monday. When I asked what it could be besides melanoma, he didn’t know and said to let the pathologists do their work. An honest answer, but not the most reassuring one.
Richard receives the best husband award for his six hours of patient waiting, especially since I wouldn’t let him turn on the TV in my room. He is a notorious channel flipper and will watch three shows at once, which drives me crazy. We appreciate all the prayers and truly feel it is the reason for how well the procedure went and the peace we were able to keep despite all the unknowns.