My adrenal gland biopsy was last Wednesday. I am still really sore, it is only 10:00 am on Friday, but I had a hunch since the procedure did not go as planned I would be. The surgeon, Dr. Bookstein, (seriously that is his name!) assured me I would be feeling fine after a few days but that was if things went as planned.
The original plan…
Collect material by inserting a thin hollow needle through my back and to my adrenal gland. The surgeon uses CT images to guide the needle placement.
What that means…
I lay perfectly still on my belly on a CT table. I go in an out of the CT scanner to take several practice images. This gets me used to taking the exact same breath so my insides are in the same location for each picture and each time the needle is advanced. It’s quite interesting to see how your insides change with each inhale and exhale. (read: It’s quite interesting to know that if you breathe too deep your lung may get punctured instead of my adrenal gland.)
After local anesthesia is injected into my back (yes, painful) the biopsy needle & holder is set up on my back. With the holder the surgeon can control the entry point, angle, and depth to ensure success. The procedure begins with another set of pictures with my breath held to the same depth as previously established. Then the biopsy needle is inserted 1 cm. I go back into the CT scanner for more images. Then the biopsy needle is inserted 1 cm. I go back into the CT scanner for more images.
The third centimeter advance was the last. The surgeon brushed or hit a nerve while advancing. I screamed, not just any scream, my scream was much like the one Mel Gibson bellowed in Braveheart- I think you all know what part in the movie I’m talking about. I could not feel the needle what so ever but I felt the most pain I have ever felt when the nerve was touched. Unfortunately, my surgeon hit the nerve a second time when he immediately withdrew the needle the same 1 centimeter. Of course I screamed a second time as intense as the first. He asked me what I felt. I told him I was electrocuted in my middle back and it shot out my right hip. He placed his hand on my shoulder and told me to try to relax, that’s when I started to whimper and then cry. I wanted SW to be next to me.
Dr Bookstein went to the nearest phone and called my oncologist, Dr L, to discuss the necessity of the biopsy.
Moments later Dr Bookstein retuned to me and told me this method was going to be abandoned. The revised plan was to collect a biopsy by entering my right side where no nerve would be present. (OK, he never thought he was going to hit a nerve the first time…I’m supposed to believe him that this new location is free & clear?)
The revised plan…
Collect material by inserting a 15 centimeter thin hollow needle through my right side and to my adrenal gland. The needle would also enter & exit my liver which may cause some burning but nothing like getting a nerve hit. I again accepted the risks of the procedure and we were off!
I was cleaned up and set-up laying on my left side for the procedure to begin all over again with the (painful) anesthesia needle. I still wanted SW next to me but I accepted a nice nurse Mo who had good drugs for me and a hand to squeeze during the entire procedure.
The same process of hold the breath & pictures, hold the breath & advance the needle 1 cm, hold the breath & pictures, hold the breath & advance the needle 1 cm, and so on…was followed until the needle was in the adrenal gland. (Nearly 6-inches deep! Dr Bookstein actually said, “good thing you’re skinny.”) With a loud but painless click a sample was collected.
My recovery at Sunnyside MPU was 3-needed-hours after my traumatic and heavy drugged procedure. Once again, I was thankful to have SW by my side for nearly all of it.
My next oncologist appointment with Dr L is Monday at 9:00. I am unsure if the results of the testing will be available to me at this appointment. As always, I will update you all with information as soon as I know it.
Thank you all for caring about me and my health. Knowing you are all by my side keeps me going. It’s such a fabulous warming feeling but one I hope none of you ever get to know – I feel it can only be truly understood when you are in a situation like mine.