Friday, September 30, 2011

Needles, Scans, and Surgical Procedures

Today concluded a week of testing, poking, and prodding.  At last count, Steve counted nine needle sticks and IV's.  He is definitely feeling like a pin cushion!

Yesterday Steve went in for his Bone Marrow Biopsy at Good Samaritan Hospital.  We made the decision to have the procedure done under partial sedation at the hospital rather than having Dr. Liao do the procedure in his office with a local anesthetic.  Now, Steve is no wimp; but if you had an instrument similar to the size of an ice pick shoved into your pelvis bone, wouldn't you rather be out for it too?  Steve wants you all to know... if someone tells you it won't hurt the next day, they are lying.  He was told it would feel like a little bruise; he told me that it felt like someone had thrown him under the truck!

Debbie was Steve's nurse and she was a kick.  She laughed with us and we joked with her.  In the course of telling her the story, Steve told her about his swollen leg.  You see, Steve had accumulated a lot of fluid beneath the incision from his lymph node removal surgery.  Debbie called the surgeon's office and got one of the surgeons to stop by and take a look.  The surgeon agreed that it was a problem but concluded that it was not infected.  He recommended that he get it drained and wrapped.

Here is Steve and Debbie at Good Samaritan just before the biopsy:

Debbie told us that the instrument they use to do the Bone Marrow Biopsy is really more like a sharp straw than a needle.  Steve laid on his stomach as they pushed the instrument into his lower back, entering in his pelvis bone.  The sample looks like a one inch piece of spaghetti when it comes out.  When she described this to us it reminded me of taking a core sample from a tree to date it.  Poor Steve!  He now has a small puncture hole in back that is covered by a bandaid.  No showers for 48 hours to reduce the chance of infection. 

Steve began is day today having a PET Scan at 7:30 am at the Multicare Regional Cancer and Infusion Center here in Puyallup.  Steve had to fast all sugars, carbohydrates, and caffeine the day before the test.  (Not fun after having to fast for his Bone Marrow Biopsy too!)  To say the least, he was not a happy camper!  The reason why he had to refrain from these things was because he had to be injected (through an IV) with a sugar solution.  Having sugar in the body can throw off the results of the test.  Any cancerous tumors love the sugar in the solution and it will "light up" on the PET scan.  Doctors sometimes call these hot spots. 

Here is Steve and his technician, Nick.

Below is a picture of that classic "thumbs up." 

For those of you who may not have ever seen a PET scan, here is a little video of Steve going into the PET scan. 

After the PET Scan we went to see Dr. Kim and have him take a look at Steve's leg.  The doctor agreed that Steve had an extraordinary amount of swelling that was most probably due to a leak from the lymph node being removed.  He debated about what the best course of action was, but in the end, he decided to drain the fluid out of his leg and bandage it up. 

The doctor numbed up Steve's leg a bit and then inserted a large syringe into the site.  Dr. Kim drew out about 16 ounces of clear yellow fluid from his leg.  It looked just like a glass of beer; about the same color and consistency!  It did not appear to be infected.  Dr. Kim said that it would be best to see if Steve's body would close up the leak on it's own.  Going in surgically to repair the leak it an option, but that would have risks of it's own.  So right now we are going to wait and pray.  Dr. Kim can surgically repair it next Wednesday when Steve has his Port put in; we are hoping it heals itself.

Finally, we concluded the day having Steve's CT scan (with contrast) done.  He had to drink two large bottles of Barium Sulfide prior to the test.  The technician would not let me go with him into the room to take photos, so I do not have any to share.  The CT scan looks a lot like the PET scan shown above.  In fact, the PET scan machine shown above is also a CT scan.  It has two functions!

Steve said that the worst part of the CT scan was the feeling of the dye being injected into his body.  He said that it feels very strange and uncomfortable when you can feel the warm dye travel all around your body.  It happens so quickly!  

We will now wait until Tuesday to get all of the test results back from Dr. Liao.  We should know if or where any cancer exists in his body.  We should also get the results of the FISH test back that will tell us if Steve's Lymphoma transformed from a slower, small cell Lymphoma. I will do my best to post another blog on Tuesday evening, sharing the results with all of you.  Thank you all for all of your continued prayers! 

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