Challenging your oncologist to a showdown of tests means you are going to radiate (pun-intended) every energy possible! Here's a whole body bone scan with contrast means that before they run you through the big donut scan they are going to load you with radioactive dye. But your consolation prize is a little yellow card that notifies the security officials at the airport or the border crossing that your smile isn't the only part of you that might glow! Then, there's the abdomen scan with contrast--you drink that radioactive liquid. Here's your little yellow card and have a lovely day! "Mrs. Selchow, we are going to need a little blood. A little more blood. Just a little more blood. Oh, and another quart of urine." There's the looks the techs give you after they ask you why you are having the tests and the sad and concerned faces they give you when they shake your hand when you leave. One nice man said, "Good luck, Jana. I sincerely hope these tests bring you the results you are looking for." Kind people.
One Monday, sitting at my desk at work, the phone rang and Dr. Serious's office manager was on the line. "Hi Jana! Dr. Serious would like for you to come into his office for a bone marrow biopsy. Would Wednesday be okay?" Frozen, I stopped reading my email and I asked her to repeat what she just said. Very sweetly and very sincerely, she told me that I needed a bone marrow biopsy. I asked Bibi if the results from the last group of tests showed something. She told me she would look at the doctor's orders, which she did, and then told me the doctor would talk with me when I came for the biopsy. I made the appointment and sat at my desk in shock.
While trying to keep my head from spinning off, I hit compose on my email account and started a note to my brother. I quickly typed him a message explaining what had just happened. Then, I called Bosco. While telling him about the phone call, I finally gave into a little self-pity and started to come unwound. Sniffling, whispering into the phone, an email popped up from my brother, Gary. He typed three little messages: 1) 1 Samuel 17:49-51 Young David killing the giant Goliath with three small, smooth stones, courage, and God's guidance. 2) My dad's promise that "God takes care of us." and 3) My brother's promise to pray for me and that my big brother knows it will all be okay. I could have left work with good reason, but I decided to stay and finish my day. If David could be brave, then it was the least I could do!
Wednesday came quickly. At Dr. Serious's office, Bosco I was escorted to an examining room to speak with Dr. Serious. He explained what was going to happen and asked if we had any questions. Right away I said, "Did you find anything on the other tests that led to this test?" He surprised us by saying no, the tests were inconclusive and the bone marrow biopsy would definitely determine if there was a bone marrow cancer that was leading to Multiple Myeloma. I said, "Okay, let's do this," and I was taken to another examining room.
The nurses made me comfy on a long table with a pillow. Bosco was able to stay with me and watch the procedure. Dr. Serious had brought in an anesthesiologist and she was very nice and comforting as she administered the anesthesia. I was still talking as I closed my eyes and everyone said it was really funny when I said, "Bibi (the office manager) is sooo nice." Hello darkness.
Bosco told me that once he got over the shock at watching the doctor push a needle the diameter of a meat thermometer into my right hip bone with incredible force that it was very interesting! The doctor took the marrow samples and swabbed a couple of slides then placed the marrow slice into a little bottle with clear liquid. The anesthesiologist brought me out of my little nap and the nurses helped me sit on the side of the table until it was time to go. Wow! I was given an appointment card and Bosco and I left. (I did ask him if we could go to Marshalls to shop, but Bosco was not up for that!)
As easy as it sounds, the bone marrow biopsy left me with some pain and a hole in my skin you can still see, today. It was hard to sit in an office chair, it was uncomfortable to lay flat, and if I were touched or bumped I wasn't too polite for a couple of weeks. During an office meeting the following day, I did everything but hang upside down in my chair. Shift, grimace, shift, slide, grimace, bounce leg, grimace, shift, repeat...
A week later, Bosco and I drove to Sierra Vista for the follow-up appointment with Dr. Serious. Bosco took my hand as we walked from the car to the building. Dr. Serious's office staff were as nice as always and we went to an examining room to wait for the news. Dr. Serious breezed in, looking at the test results. He asked how I was feeling, did I have any problems from the biopsy, etc... Finally, I asked what the biopsy results were. He looked a little perplexed and told us that it was negative. No cancer. A flood of relief washed over me. Dr. Serious looked at me and asked, "So, did the endocrinologist really tell you that the parathyroid hormone could cause bones lesions?" I chucked and assured him they could. He said, "Only about 2% of people with hyperparathyroidism have lesions." I just smiled and said, "Well, that would be me."
I am one of two percent, but that day I felt like one in a million. When we got back to Douglas, I went to work for a couple of hours and later that evening, I had dinner with two friends. Telling them about my day, one friend took her glass and raised it and said that we should make a toast. The three of us lifted our glasses and I said, "To life. My life!"
Dr. Serious told me that I would need testing every four months to "keep an eye" on the lesions. I had a skeletal survey and a skull CT on Monday. We go to see Dr. Serious tomorrow.