Hodgkin’s Files: Poked, Extracted, Scanned, Planned and Dead Batteries

Today was the start of my attack on the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that is currently taken residence in my body.  The funny part is that I have had two bronchoscopies, and a needle biopsy where nothing pleasant was going to happen but I was calm and had no reservations about any of them going in.  Last night on the other hand I was nervous and really could not sleep.  I was beginning to think that I may be comfortable with my cancer.  Much like a prisoner that tries to escape over an over from prison but the moment he is released he wants back in.  I know it seems crazy but I was just kind of going through something last night that was just unsettling.  Perhaps, I was getting a little doubt that I would be kicking this cancer in the hind parts.  Any who, I had a hell of a time sleeping which is not totally abnormal but I had to be up real early to get the Psycho to day camp at 6am and then get myself to Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center.

I woke about 4 minutes before my phone alarm went off at 5am so I waited for that song of all songs “Furry Walls” by Infant Sorrow.  If ever there was a song that was made for future survivors it is “Furry Walls.”  I had to fast because I was supposed to be sedated so that meant no coffee, no water, no nothing.  It sucked.  We got there with plenty of time to spare which was awesome and the parking was free.  I checked in and waited with the smell off coffee all around me for some labs.  Why on earth do they always have to take blood when you go the hospital.  Vampires are real people and they do not sparkle but they do wear scrubs.  Only three vials of blood so there was no danger of breaking the record set by my father in-law Dave at 11.  I came close at 9 in the diagnosis phase last month but still second place is first looser.

With the labs done, we went up to the Hematology Clinic for a Bone Marrow Extraction.  All was well till a Dr. Kim calls me into a room to have a little discussion.  I had no idea what was going on so I sat down and she explained that she works on the analysis of the bone marrow that is extracted as part of her duties at the hospital but the majority of her time is dedicated to research in a disease that I do not have.  I cannot remember what it was called but it is one that typically shows up in an older demographic.  She wanted my permission to take a little extra of my bone marrow to use as a normal control in her study.  My first thought was, lady you really don’t know me because there isn’t a soul that would consider me a normal control of any sort.  But, it took no convincing for me to want to participate in research.  I was more than happy to help if I could so I agreed to let her have an extra 10 ml of bone marrow for her study.  I certainly hope it helps in some way.  Now came the fun.

I was escorted to the extraction room where the nice nurse explained how things were going to work.  I was given the option of sedation or local anesthetic.  I asked the difference and how each would affect me.  See Space, I can be an informed patient.  It turns out that I could have skipped the fasting if I had known that I could choose the local.  I chose the local.  I don’t like being in a drug induced grog.  Well the NP that came into do the procedure explained more in depth what was going to happen and I asked if I could put on my MP3 player and they said rock on.  It was awesome.  Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Breeders, David Lee Roth, Bad Brains and the playlist went on.  They has flipped me over on my tummy which is very uncomfortable on my chest these days.  I felt some pressure and some pinching.  They even tried warning me as they went through each step.  I was relatively relaxed then the NP got my attention to tell me she was ready to extract the marrow.  She explained that typically people feel a cramp like sensation in their butt or down their leg.  I said go for it.  It happened.  She lied.  I know cramps in my back side and legs and this was not it.  It was very new and very painful.  To say I curse is an understatement.  I have a free range of the language as needed.  This time the only thing that came out was “WOW!”  I could feel the marrow being sucked out of my hip bone and there was an empty feeling in the bone where there used to be marrow.  There were going to be at least two more runs at it and I was game.  What a feeling.  After the first hit I felt one of the nurses give me one of those “there, there” rubs on the arm to comfort me.  After the second hit, I asked if I could see the marrow.  It was cool.  The NP showed it to me and the piece of bone as well.

On to the MUGA scan of my heart.  Actually, I was free to eat but no caffeine (not true but I was told it).  So I went to the cafeteria for some bacon egg and cheese biscuits and a cup of decaffeinated poison.  On to the radiology department where I was IV ported and injected with a radioactive die.  The radiology tech was real cool as I have found with all rad techs.  We chatted it up a little and then I got the chance to take a power nap as they scanned my heart for 8 minutes.  Not much to say here but I was never really claustrophobic even though I was enclosed by two doughnuts and a scanner.  Just after this it was actually time for some lunch and all was going so well.

We had some time before the next appointment with the Oncologist (Doc Reddy) so a trip to some place with some food and coffee was in order.  We got to the car and plopped in which kind of messed up the bandage on my hip.  I turned the key and nothing happened.  The battery was dead.  It was working fine earlier in the morning.  Perhaps, I left the lights on or something.  I unplugged and turned off everything and still nothing.  The clock reset and there was not juice.  Well, I was about to call AAA when someone told me that Vandy had a guy that can come by and give a jump.  All I had to do was go the the info desk and ask them to call him.  We did not have to because, he was in the next row.  He came by and the jump worked right there.  Instead of risking it by stopping for lunch a drive through was decided upon.  Wendy’s!

Car parked again but backed in just in case the battery still did not charge up.  My hip bandage was all jank so I went back to the hematology clinic to see if they could fix it up again.  What I did not realize was that was where I was supposed to be for my next appointment.  So the fixed up the bandage and got me in to see Doc Reddy, early.  I love this place.  I have never been to a big hospital where you get in early just because you show up early.

The NP that works with Doc Reddy, I cannot remember her name, came in and asked the important stuff and a few more in depth questions.  She asked about my alcohol use and I told her that I refused to answer the question because the forms only choices were:  Never, Abuse, Quit on date.  She understood that I have had a drink on occasion.  I gave her my CT and x-ray scans and she shared them with Doc Reddy.  Soon afterwards, I met Doc Reddy for the first time.  We discussed the condition and some of the further testing I was to go through like the PET scan, EKG, more labs, and PFT.  Then the real plan.  The standard was a chemo session every two weeks for six months.  Unless something really changes in the testing that was the plan and the plan starts next week.  I was told about the side effects, like hair loss.  Goodbye, back hair.  I have always hated you and I will relish you demise.  I will miss you goatee and mustache you have been a good friend whether just the two of you or as a part of my most awesome beard.  Like McAuthur, you shall return.  There was the other stuff like nausea and blah blah blah.  I was going to suck at times but it was for the greater good.  We discussed contributing to a clinical study.  I was game but I may rethink it if I have to get more biopsy done.  I know it was selfish but I really am a little gun shy about that.

So a day with poking, extracting, scanning (with napping), a solid plan of attack now to get to the psycho to celebrate more birthday.  I have a 10 year old and she is the reason.  In any case, the battery did not charge.  We called for the Vandy guy to come and help out but he was going to take some time, which was okay.  Then a saint in scrubs came by with some cables and we eventually got the Blue Meany (my car’s name) started.  He and I were in agreement that I don’t stop the car till I get to a battery installer and change that thing.  It was so old that it had open cells.
If you think the battery was the worse part it was not.  The psycho wants to know tonight.  I did not want to tell her on her birthday but she wants to know.  I will let you know how that goes.

Thanks to everyone out there for all of your support and thoughts.  Lets kick this shit.

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