Take Another Piece of My Liver Now, Baby

March 22, 2009

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.