12/30/2015: First the main news – all test results are in from my 5-year post bone marrow transplant exam and 12th(?) bone marrow biopsy on December 10. All is good! I’m still 100% donor with no evidence of disease. Thank you again, Mary Lou, for sharing your amazing marrow!
The day started out ordinarily enough – traditional Hopkins selfie, 5 vials of blood drawn, saw doctor and nurse practitioner.
I expected them to tell me not to return but they want to see me in six months to keep watch on my GVHD. I was called for my biopsy and overjoyed to see my favorite NP, Don, had not retired and would do the procedure. Instead of the usual tiny, cramped room, they’d moved to a spacious room up on 5th floor. Ah, everything should be much easier!
This procedure is usually uncomfortable, even painful, but only for about a minute or two at most. Of the six different NPs and one MD I’ve had, only one was inept which, in turn, caused a traumatic and painful time for me. Don is by far the best – he’s fast and efficient and always gets a good sample for the lab. This would be my fourth biopsy with him, so I wasn’t worried as I lay face down on the table, sweats pulled down just far enough to grant access to my pelvic bone.
As Don anesthetized my behind with a huge syringe of lidocaine, I got one of my random lateral back cramps, the first hint that all would not go smoothly. I asked Michael who, at my request, was busily photo-documenting the procedure, to come and rub my back so I could remain still for Don. The cramp subsided but Don was having difficulty getting a sample and kept moving the needle around. He must have hit a nerve because it hurt badly. I remained quiet but Michael peered over the mask he wore to protect others from his cold directly into my wide, pain filled eyes. Suddenly, he exclaimed, “It’s hot in here,” and disappeared from my view. I called to him, “What’s going on?” Don said, “He’s taking off his jacket and sitting down.”
Next, I heard a horrid raspy, groaning, choking sound I don’t even know how to describe and female voices, “He’s out – is he coming around? Sir, can you hear me? Are you okay? Do you know where you are?” He replied, “Yeah, I’m fine,” but he sounded not so good. Don was still working on me but my pain was forgotten as I heard more voices, “What’s his BP?” “Call for a gurney.” “Sir, we need to get you to the ER to make sure you’re all right.”
Don was finally finishing with me as the gurney arrived. I sat up and said, “I have to go with him,” and was told I shouldn’t get up so soon after my biopsy. I insisted, so they got me a wheelchair, and our mini convoy wound its way through the hospital to the ER, escorted by security.
Thus began the game of “Who’s the patient here anyway?” Between the two of us, we kept the doctors, nurses and other staff entertained for the next several hours while they tested him thoroughly – blood work, EKG, physical exam – and gave him IV fluids. They finally decided he probably passed out due to a combination of cold medicine, mask, heat, dehydration, and lots of stress, and sent us on our way.
Our drive home from the city was uneventful – we were both ravenous by then so stopped on the way for dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, Sizzling Bombay, a happy ending to yet another strange day.
p.s. Everyone at the busy Johns Hopkins ER was super caring, thorough, and attentive, a huge contrast to our experience at Upper Chesapeake on Novermber 7 (see Day +1806).