“This will hurt”

Don and I sat in the exam room waiting for Dr. Asik. I noticed a tray on the counter. It contained various plastic wrapped packages, a couple of plastic containers, and some other items I couldn’t identify from my chair across the room.

Dr. Asik came in to the room and briefly explained the bone marrow biopsy procedure. He didn’t go into great detail, which was good, since Don can get a little woozy with even a discussion of medical procedures. Dr. Asik said he would numb the area, insert two different needles into my hip, and remove liquid with one and bone marrow with the other. He said it would be a bit uncomfortable, but he would talk me through it. He said the whole procedure would take less than a half hour.

“Do you have any questions?” I asked Dr. Asik to review what we would learn from the biopsy. “How does the bone marrow in my hip correlate to the spot the PET scan showed in my lower back? Dr. Asik explained that cancer in the bone marrow would confirm cancer in the area they questioned from the PET scan. If it’s positive, my staging would change from two to four. “Four sounds pretty scary Dr. Asik,” I said. “Hodgkin’s is a curable form of cancer Linda, whether it’s stage one or stage four.” He said it wouldn’t change the treatment plan, just require more months of chemo. Don asked how it impacted the recurrence rate. “The recurrence with stage two is between 10-20 percent; with stage four, it’s 50 percent.” Oh.  I swallowed hard. Neither one of us said anything.

Dr. Asik said he was ready to get started and told Don he was welcome to stay if he wanted. “I would like to do that,” Don said. “I really appreciate your support Don, but you might be better off waiting in the lobby. They’ll let you know when I’m finished.” Don used to be someone who passed out giving blood. He found if he tells the technician to “skip the play-by-play and just do it” he’s okay. He started giving blood regularly a few years ago when someone we know requested it for a family member. He has been able to donate consistently ever since. I’m really proud of him, but I thought it might slow Dr. Asik down if Don ended up on the floor. “That might be a good idea,” said Dr. Asik.

I wouldn’t choose to have another bone marrow biopsy if I didn’t have to, but Dr. Asik made it bearable. He explained that he was able to numb the skin, but not the bone. He told me what he was doing throughout the procedure, which I appreciated. He would say, “this is going to hurt, but it will only hurt for five seconds.” It helped to be able to count it out. “This will feel like a vacuum for a few seconds.” Then it would be done. There were several times I could ask him questions about why something felt a certain way, and he would explain. The needles, for example, weren’t the size that are used when you get a flu shot. The ones for this procedure were thicker, and they’re designed for the doctor to turn like a handle, so they can penetrate the bone. You probably don’t want to know more than that.

Dr. Asik said, with the holiday, he would probably not receive the results for about a week. Merry Christmas.


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