Off to the Races

One bone marrow aspiration and one dose of chemo done!

Menus of Assurance
Ever since Lindsey’s first admission at IUH North, I’ve read every word on the every hospital menu I’ve seen.  Why?  Well because when there isn’t much to do and you’re bored enough, a menu reads like a great novel.  When Lindsey delivered the girls at IUH North in the summer of 2011, the only error I found was that the menu was for “Clarian North.”  Of course the name “Clarian” was dropped in January 2011, so the menu was a bit out of date.  Granted “assurance” wasn’t in the corporate vocabulary at the time, so I’ll let that one slide.

Fast forward to today, and my current menu is a bit jacked up.  First off, what is normally a tri-fold menu has been cut up with a paper cutter so that a 1/3 of it is now stuffed in the other 2/3’s like an insert.  The problem being that the 1/3 that is cut off had to be trimmed a bit more and some of the food choices are cut off as well.  But that isn’t the funniest thing to me.  The funniest thing is that the menu specifically says “Lunch/Dinner begin at 11pm and are served for the remainder of the day.”  So there you have it folks.  You’re allowed to get lunch/dinner for 1 hour out of the day.  Guess there are a lot of omelets in my future.

uncle, Uncle, UNCLE!
I made it through the bone marrow aspiration.  Lindsey stayed in the waiting room.  Something about metal grinding on bone makes her queasy.  The good news is that this one didn’t hurt quite as bad as my last one.  The bad news being that they didn’t get a good sample the first time, so they had to do it twice.
I’ve never seen the bone marrow aspiration done, because it all happens behind me, but here’s what I think happens.  Basically they have a cart of fun needles, similar to what you might find in an Iraqi torture room.  You get a shot of lidocaine to numb up the top layer of skin, which comes with the normal needle prick and burning sensation.  You then get another shot of lidocaine closer to the bone with another prick and burning sensation.  Next the aspiration needle goes in.  This is where more of the pain starts.  They press the needle onto the back of your hip bone and then begin turning it to drill through your bone.  Picture yourself with a screwdriver and bearing your weight down while you try and screw something in.  That’s basically what it is like.  There’s a lot of pressure on your bone and a general sense of pain, because you know someone’s pushing hard on you and drilling into your bone.
Once they’ve drilled far enough, they have to get a chip of the bone marrow.  They count down from 3, you take a deep breath and hold it,  and then chip off a piece of the bone marrow.  Simultaneously a pain, similar to a really  bad charlie horse, shoots down you entire leg.  Like I said, they didn’t get a good chip on the first try, so they had to back the needle out a little bit and re-drill (ie, more pressure pain and a 2nd charlie horse sensation for Rob).  I could tell he got a good sample on the 2nd try cuz it hurt like a mofo.  The first try only hurt like a son of a gun.
After the sample has been collected, all there is left to do is back out the needle by pulling it back.  Then another countdown and a slight popping noise as they pull the needle from your bone.  You then have to lie on your back for a few minutes so the bleeding will stop.  That concludes your bone marrow aspiration…well except for the lingering pain in your hip the rest of the day.
Even though my bone marrow aspiration occurred in the morning, they didn’t think they’d have the results until tomorrow.  So I get to spend one more day as a 204.00.  I just need one little 1/100th to add to my ICD-9 code.  It will make all the difference in the world.
And the Powerball is…
They were happy with my numbers.
Hemoglobin – 12.1
Platelets – 187
WBC – 4.0
ANC – 2.8
I asked about my WBC dropping.  Basically it is due to the effects of the Neulasta wearing off.  They time the Neulasta injection so that its effectiveness is peaking at the same time the effects of the chemo have wiped out all my cells.  That way the Neulasta gives me a quick boost and helps prevent infection.  As long as my WBC doesn’t crash again, they consider it a success.
Learning My ABC’s
The Hem/Onc unit is broken up into 3 pods.  A pod, B pod, and C pod.  I’ve now completed the trifecta.  My first stint was in A7.  Last time I was in B11 and now I’m in C 25.  All rooms face the outdoors, but the upside of A&B is that they look over Michigan and University streets.  You get to see students walking around campus amongst other things.  C pod however overlooks the hospital roof and faces another part of the hospital.  So while you do get sunlight, you also get to stare at a grey exterior wall along with some office windows.  Maybe I’ll grab a bar of soap and draw SOS on my window to see how long it takes someone in one of those offices to make sure I’m ok.
Speaking of SOS
During my first admission when I was in A pod, I got bored one night when I couldn’t go to sleep.  The steroids were keeping me up and it was like 1 in the morning. I can control some lights from my hospital bed and I started to turn the lights on and off to form the Morse code for SOS.  I did that for a few minutes until I realized someone driving or walking by may in fact take my boredom SOS for a real SOS and call in to the hospital.  Since I don’t know the Morse code for “I’m bored and this is a joke”, I decided to just stop.
A Duck Dynasty Prayer
Father God, thank you for routine.  Thank you for the known routine of treatment.  Thank you for a talented medical staff and a caring one as well.  Help me to get through this treatment and the days that follow.  Help me to once again avoid the worst of the side effects.  Be with my family as I am away.  Let me return to them one step closer to being cured.  Thank you for the wisdom you provide everyone here.  Thank you for another day.  Amen.

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