Monday, February 20, 2012

Please Stop Moving Your Arm

"Karen, please stop moving your right arm," ordered the nurse who had just set up a somewhat painful IV in my left hand

I hadn't moved my right arm, as far as I could tell. "Okay," I agreed anyway.

Then she started laughing and apologized. She had been trying to get a blood pressure reading, and it wasn't working, and so she had assumed that I was moving my right arm around. But the real problem was that she hadn't put the blood pressure cuff on me yet.

Apparently it does not work so good if it is not attached to the patient.

So far, the process of setting up for the tumor biopsy had been going fine.

Right at the beginning, there has been a bit of an unpleasant jolt when the junior doctor explained that they would be taking three samples during this tumor biopsy. I had thought that it would be one sample. In retrospect, I should have asked them to take like 40 samples and scoop it all out of me! But at the time, I was thinking that if it hurt, it was going to hurt three times, not just once.

I let myself daydream for a few seconds about turning to Lou and telling him that I changed my mind, get me out of here. But I really want to get started with the chemo, and I'll pretty much let them do whatever they want.

So I just signed the consent paperwork and climbed into the bed in the procedure room.

The ultrasound machine was on my right, and a nurse and the junior doctor used it to look at the tumor next to my pancreas and liver. That's the one they would use for the biopsies.

How many TV shows have I seen with ultrasound being performed on pregnant ladies, and they walk away with a picture of the baby? And then they show off that picture to everyone? I started laughing because I wondered if I was going to walk away with a picture of the tumor.

Everyone was pretty nice and relaxed, and I found myself laughing and joking. The nurses at Duke are just the best.

There was a second-year med student there, patting my left arm and chatting with me soothingly. When I asked if she would be participating in the procedure, she assured me that she would not be doing anything except observing.

At one point, I realized I was completely tense, like my entire body was clenched like a fist. So I made myself relax and sink into the bed. Eventually they would use the IV to give me drugs for relaxation and pain.

After a lot of setup, the senior doctor swept in like a king and started giving orders. They showed him the ultrasound and discussed the plan. Pretty quickly, they numbed the area and the senior doctor went for the first sample.

I am pretty squeamish, so I didn't look. (I don't ever look.)

But I felt pressure as they inserted the needle thing. At that moment, the blood pressure cuff started inflating, and that hurt a lot more than the needle thing! There was a loud SNAP and they got the first "core sample." They brought it over to a tray way on the other side of the room and someone verified that it was good.

Second sample was also quick. I felt pressure, a bit of discomfort.

Finally, it was time for the third sample. I was thinking, "It's almost over, it's been okay so far, it's almost over..." The junior doctor got to take the third sample. It took a bit longer and hurt a bit. But I guess everyone has to start somewhere.

Good thing they didn't need a fourth sample, because maybe they would have invited the med student or the janitor to have a go...

Then they were bandaging the area, whisking me off to recovery, where I got soda and crackers and my sweetie Lou. They watched me for two hours and then released me.

Really, the whole tumor biopsy process was as pleasant as they could have made it, which is good, because I have to do it all over again in a couple of weeks.

A million thanks to John for driving Lou and me!


Anonymous said...

Aaahhhh! You are SUCH a trooper!!! Love the Update! Let me know if you need a care package:) Love, Sharon from Bellevue, WA

Anonymous said...

You are such a trooper and funny at the same time. Yes, I agree, the bloodpressure is better taken with the cuff on your arm! Glad to hear step one is over. Will check in on step two. Keep up the bright attitude, though I've never seen or heard you any other way.

Luv ya!