Tomorrow is a Big Day

Wednesday, July 8th at 1:00pm
My appointment with Dr. Cripe is at 1pm.  I’ll have my blood drawn and if there are no signs of leukemia in my peripheral blood, then we will move on to a bone marrow aspiration.  Knowing you are going to have a bone marrow aspiration is kinda like blowing by a cop at 100mph.  You know what’s going to happen.  You know it’s going to suck.  But you also know there isn’t anything you can do about it.  You just have to pull over, smile, and take your ticket.

Representation of the BMA procedure.
Representation of the BMA procedure.

Bone Marrow Aspiration/Biopsy
A little over 2 years ago, I wrote about what a Bone Marrow Aspiration (BMA) is like.  For those of you not inclined to hear about drilling into bone, I’ll just tell you it’s not fun and you can skip to the next section.

For those of you still reading, here’s how much fun a BMA is.  For pediatric patients, they typically give sedation.  For adult patients, it’s more of a grin and bear it process.  They have you lay on your side, as the BMA will take place in your hip area.  You are given lidocaine to numb the surface skin.  You feel a little prick and a burning sensation.  They then start to push the lidocaine needle in further to help numb the tissue all the way down to the bone.  At this point they will ask “Do you feel any pain or just pressure?”  Now, the astute BMA subject will always say they feel pain.  That way they shoot you up with a bit more lidocaine.  Just a little tip, free of charge.

BMA needle tip.  This needle is twisted back and forth to penetrate your bone.
BMA needle tip. This needle is twisted back and forth to penetrate your bone.

After your soft tissue is numb, in goes the BMA needle.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is the tip of a BMA needle.  The needle goes through the soft tissue relatively easy and pain free (thank you lidocaine).  However, when they get to the bone, things change a bit.  Have you ever taken a phillips screwdriver and pushed down on it with all your weight to either put a screw in or get it out?  That’s what this part of the procedure feels like.  You feel an intense pressure on your bone as the doctor pushes down and twists the needle back and forth.  Clockwise then counter clockwise.  Essentially sawing into your bone.

BMA Kit
BMA Kit

Eventually, they get through your bone and into the marrow.  This is where the fun really begins.  There’s no numbing the marrow.  You are told to stay still, which is kind of funny considering what will happen next.  A countdown of 3…2…1, and then they snip some of your marrow.  When this happens, you get a severe pain, kind of like a charlie horse from your hip down to your toes.  It’s through this pain that they would prefer you stay still.  The pain lasts maybe 5 seconds…and then they take another sample with the same pain for good measure.

Now that the procedure is done, they remove the needle and apply pressure to the incision.  A rather large bandage is put on and then you lay on your back so that more pressure is applied.  Eventually you have laid there long enough and you can get up.  Then you wait.  What will the BMA show?  Are you in remission?  Did the chemo work?

The Results
I’m not sure when I’ll have my results.  The first time around, it took a couple of days to get results back.  Last month, the preliminary results were pretty clear and we had those within a few hours.  Obviously I’m praying for/hoping for/wanting remission.  If I achieve a 2nd remission, then we move on to SCT.  If I do not achieve a 2nd remission, then things get a bit more complicated.  Not achieving a 2nd remission means the leukemia is most like resistant to the typical chemo.  At that point, we could try a stronger chemo or we could move on to clinical trial treatments.  Let’s just plan on a remission.

My Main Man
It’s a good thing Obergefell v. Hodges was decided recently, as I have a new man in my life.  We haven’t met, but I don’t think that I can live without him.  I know nothing about him, other than he is male and he’s going to give me some new stem cells.  How do I know he is male?  Well, the interesting thing is they try to match you with a man first.  Sexist?  Not really.  Women can develop antibodies when they are pregnant and these antibodies can impact the SCT.  Even if the woman is a 10/10 match, the antibodies can cause more severe GVHD.  When someone has potential matches, they will request more information for the men first.  Now, that is only if someone has male matches.  It is quite possible that someone will only have a match with a female.  So all you ladies that have signed up for the registry, don’t despair.  You could very well help save someone’s life.

What Life is Like Right Now
Well, maybe not life in the broad sense.  But more to the point, how am I doing right now?  Not too bad.  I have enough energy to run short errands.  I drive myself to my lab draw and then might run by Home Depot or another store.  I can get through the day without a nap if I want, but sometimes its also advisable to just rest.  After chemo, I felt like I was revving my engine in neutral or sometimes getting in 1st gear.  Now I feel like I’ve stepped up my game and I can get into 2nd gear.  Granted the clutch grinds as I shift and there’s a definite shudder from the engine, but I can move around a little quicker than I used to.  Not as fast as I want to or as fast as I used to, but when you’ve been stuck in neutral or 1st gear for a month, a shaky 2nd gear feels pretty good.

A Duck Dynasty Prayer
Father God, for all that will go on tomorrow, I feel rather calm.  Why worry?  What will worrying solve?  Nothing.  But I still think about tomorrow.  I play through the scenarios in my head.  What will my next steps be in each scenario that plays out.  I don’t worry because this isn’t the end of the road.  I have treatment options available and I have you to rely on.  You are my rock and my foundation.  I thank you for your promise.  I thank you for your grace.  I thank you for your salvation.  I thank you for another day.

20 thoughts on “Tomorrow is a Big Day

  1. Rob, as you prepare for tomorrow please know my prayers will be with you. and the family. I pray that you will be in remission and that you can receive your stem cell transplant. and get back on the road to recovery soon.
    peace be with you my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rob – my thoughts & prayers are always with you, Lindsay & the kids but you will be on my mind especially tomorrow! I hope you find peace in moving into this next phase of treatment! Hoping for remission again!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rob we never met but I fell in love with your children when your mom had them while at IBE..I want you to know you will b in remission. Keep your faith as Iam praying with you. Iam making a novena and lighting candles for you in my church.God be with you Rob..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Listening to your description of the bone marrow aspiration makes me think of the required training video for nurses to learn IO IV access-at least that involves a powered tool and not a manual grinding. Ouch. Lots of fortitude to endure that more than once.
    And your description a few posts back of the admission process via the RN cracked me up.
    It’s such an encouragement to see God giving you what you need to face each day-so much grace. Thank you for sharing your journey so that we can all learn something from it. I look forward to hearing the good news about your results and I’ll be thinking of you and your family tomorrow!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I will be lifting you in prayer tomorrow. Maybe a close second to going through BMA would be listening to me singing, so I will spare you that pain and just share the words of one of my old favorite hymns:
    I don’t know about tomorrow;
    I just live from day to day.
    I don’t borrow from its sunshine
    For its skies may turn to grey.

    I don’t worry o’er the future,
    For I know what Jesus said.
    And today I’ll walk beside Him,
    For He knows what is ahead.

    Many things about tomorrow
    I don’t seem to understand
    But I know who holds tomorrow
    And I know who holds my hand.

    Every step is getting brighter
    As the golden stairs I climb;
    Every burden’s getting lighter,
    Every cloud is silver-lined.

    There the sun is always shining,
    There no tear will dim the eye;
    At the ending of the rainbow
    Where the mountains touch the sky.

    Many things about tomorrow
    I don’t seem to understand
    But I know who holds tomorrow
    And I know who holds my hand.

    I don’t know about tomorrow;
    It may bring me poverty.
    But the one who feeds the sparrow,
    Is the one who stands by me.

    And the path that is my portion
    May be through the flame or flood;
    But His presence goes before me
    And I’m covered with His blood.

    Many things about tomorrow
    I don’t seem to understand
    But I know who holds tomorrow
    And I know who holds my hand…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. May the Holy Spirit be with you tomorrow as you continue on your journey to complete healing. Thank you for the educational aspect of your posts, they are very helpful to those of us who have not experienced or been close to others who have gone through such procedures. Also I thank the Lord for your gift of humor as you fight for remission.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Tell them to give you drugs…a little versed or something! That’s just cruel and torturous. Why make you feel that pain when it’s so easy to sedate you?? I don’t understand 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Prayers… bc that is one nasty looking needle… bc I want remission… bc I want you to be calm and worry free… bc God has got this!!!!

    Big ole prayers tonight friend. ROBSTRONG!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Many deep and attentive prayers for the procedure tomorrow and the following results for this wonderful young father I have never met! Requesting Blessings for this family, and a calm based on their trust in you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rob, prayers and good thoughts headed your way. Allen has also had two BMA’s. Hang in there buddy, if 60+ can endure it at your age it should be a breeze.
    Love to the family and continued best wishes for remission. There will be a cure for this insidious disease someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Rob I too am one of those ladies who knows your Mom & have had the pleasure of meeting your beautiful wife and children when they visited at IBE. I am following your journey and keeping you & your loving family in my prayers. I will be thinking of you especially today while you go through this. I read about the procedure & cringed. I stood by my Mom as at the age of 83 had this done. She never flinched but my stomach was a bit queasy knowing what what happening. You will have MANY people praying for you & God is Good so hang in there, & ask for drugs! I know I would be demanding something! Awaiting GOOD news & praying for strength and peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Praying for good results!! “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” One day at a time, God and all of us are with you and your family every step of the way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It is now yesterday’s tomorrow, and such beautiful people have already commented on your intuitive and informative post. I am so very proud of you, my son, and your family; God is with us; He is with you today and always. We are all praying, and God is listening! I am with you every minute with love! Mom

    Liked by 1 person

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