On 3/22/10, I went into Providence Hospital for a bone marrow biopsy. This is done in order to collect and examine bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside some of your larger bones. Doctors use this to diagnose and monitor blood and marrow diseases, such as Waldenströms and myeloma.
Bone marrow has a fluid portion and a more solid portion. In bone marrow aspiration, your doctor uses a needle to withdraw a sample of the liquid. In a bone marrow biopsy, a larger needle is used to take a sample of the solid part. In my case, both procedures were done at the same time.
These procedures aren’t terribly risky; rarely, complications may result such as breaking of needles within the bone, which may cause infection or bleeding, long-lasting discomfort at the biopsy site or issues related to sedation, such as an allergic reaction, nausea or irregular heartbeats. I tend to be timid; lucky for me, the docs here believe in conscious sedation for this procedure. My dad has had it done twice, in the office with local anesthetic, but his pain threshold is of family legend.
Leading up to the day, I had some mixed feelings; I was anxious about the procedure itself; I was concerned about the results; I wanted to get it over with. My subdued but mixed emotions lasted until we got to the second floor of the hospital to Infusion where I began to feel dismay. The rooms and equipment immediately took me back to sitting with my dad while he endured whatever treatment the doctors prescribed. Once we were checked in and in our own room, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. The nurse asked me if I have a living will, which is something I suppose I need to think about. They found that I was missing a CBC within the last 14 days and had to redo it, which added another 45 minutes to our wait.
My husband is a great caregiver; he kept me entertained and encouraged as we waited. It makes me cry to think about leaving him. I thank God that he is a believer in salvation through Jesus Christ and that whatever happens to him or to me, we will be together in eternity.
Finally they took us down to the procedure floor. I met the doctor who was to perform the biopsy. I liked him a lot; he carefully explained each and every step he’d be taking in simple, brief language. Basically, they administer the conscious sedation; the area where the doctor will insert the needle is confirmed using x-rays, then marked and cleaned. The bone marrow fluid and tissue sample were to be collected from the top ridge of the back of my left hipbone (posterior iliac crest).
In the procedure room, the team members were gentle and efficient as they moved me over to the table. I had to flip to my stomach-the procedure table is long, but very thin. Once they started the sedative, I was out cold and didn’t feel a thing. Next thing I knew I was waking up, back on the second floor, with my husband nearby. The sedative caused some loopiness and nausea, but nothing severe. In fact, the loopiness may be innate. When they released me, I walked out to the parking garage on my own steam.
At home I went straight to bed to sleep off the sedative. After that I treated the discomfort with ice packs and Tylenol. It’s no worse than a common back ache-even for a pain weenie like me. Just a heads up; if you go through this and decide that watching a nice movie would be just the thing to take your mind off the heavies-don’t watch “Up”. It is a lovely animated film, but the preamble is a fast forward zoom through the life of a loving married couple that ends with the death of the wife. Who knew?
Scripture Reference: Romans 10:9-10