Take Another Piece of My Liver Now, Baby
3/22/09

The biopsy, O Best Beloveds, it is done. I went in for a CAT scan at the clinic that would perform the biopsy on Thursday, planning on having the procedure on Tuesday; Steve was out of town and that day seemed to work for both of us. But they had a cancellation and offered Friday. Plucky Passenger Jessica was staying with me in Steve's absence, and she thought we should just go for it. There was wisdom in that thought--let's get it over with--plus she's so nurturing that I knew I would be not just well taken care of but positively spoiled.

So we went thither mid-day on Friday. Now, I've had two liver biopsies before. The first was performed without any sedation or pain meds, with the handlers insisting that it wasn't anything I could feel. The first poke was indeed pain free, but the second was a NEEDLE IN MY LIVER AND I WANTED IT OUT OUT OUT. I was not happy to hear they weren't able to get any usable cells and I had to do it again. Kathy's Lou, a fine doctor, said I should request Demerol and lots of it for round two, which was done by a friend of Dr. W's, who gave me all of that lovely pain med, and yay verily, it was no problem. I just felt some pressure when he poked. So I didn't know what this clinic's policy would be and I have to tell you that if they were of the no-meds persuasion that I was going to refuse to have the biopsy there, or at all. But they said they give both pain meds and make-you-woogy meds, so it ought to be fine.

And it was. The procedure was done in the CAT scan, so the doctor could check his positioning frequently. I was told there would be a command periodically to "stop breathing"--not "draw a breath and hold it" but rather "DON'T BREATHE" at all for a few seconds. It was all very meticulous; at one point early on, I had an itch on my thigh and asked Robin, the nurse, to scratch it for me; in the process she jiggled me just out of position so they had to check it again. They went in just below my breast bone; Jessica said the doc said the side was too slippery and easy to fall out of position. I was given the meds via my port, and it took a bit for them to take hold, but I felt pleasantly woogy before too long. Okay, I asked for more. Twice. Maybe three times. I actually can't remember, because apparently the stuff was good enough that the whole thing has been rendered pretty hazy in my mind. I do know that I felt some pain, sort of like a sharp gas pain, and commented on it--that was one of the times I asked for more goop. I also held nurse Robin's excellent hand, which was really helpful. I can't actually remember the pain now, so it's rather like I didn't have it at all. I also have this vague memory that cancerchick.com came up and the doc was a little bit astonished by its name. Anyway, he took seven cores, which seems like quite a lot to me. Afterward, they had me lie down in recovery for two or three hours, letting everything settle; there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with a liver biopsy, because the liver is so vascular, and though those things are rare, they are possible. To this end Jessica was given a list of stuff to watch out for, and I was given orders not to do anything for the next two or three days, lest I disturb my poked at liver. This was most enjoyable; we watched movies and ate pizza and cheeseburgers. All in all it was so satisfactory I won't dread it if I have to do it again at some point.

I'm not exactly sure what comes next. I think testing the samples to see if the cancer is still estrogen positive which I think it was said would take a week. The molecular typing will take two or three weeks. I did hear that Dr. W. is one of a very few number of doctors who is doing said typing, which makes no sense, since it seems like a no-brainer to take advantage of this new technology. It will be most interesting to get the results, though of course, there is some dread; what if the chemos that should work on me are of the hair-losing, sick-making sort? I've been spoiled for chemo for a couple of years now; I've been able to forget that it's highly unpleasant. Well, I won't have to deal with it for a couple of weeks at least.

Needled,

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