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“Oh, it’s just a small needle” my @$$!

9:54pm. April 21st 2014. Sitting beside Leia. About to take my meds. Drinking a glass of water with ginger and lemon in it. 

How I’m feeling: Really tired. I’ve been tired all day and haven’t been feeling so good over the past two days. Today, I’ve just felt weak and I slept all day long. I’m sad because I know that it was really nice outside – and I missed out. 

Note: Read 10 Long Hours in Toronto General E.R. before this post.

Wednesday, March 12th and Thursday, March 13th flew by so quickly and even now when I try to recall any happenings within those two days, it’s just one big blur. I know that I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t worried. I actually didn’t feel much towards this situation of mine. I wasn’t even worried about my fall early Wednesday morning. I either managed to stay calm and not jump to any conclusions – or so much was going on in my head that nothing was registering. I told you – a blur. I do know that generally, it takes a lot to worry me when it comes to myself. I think mom, dad, sister, my brother – and the few people I text messaged about being in E.R. may have been way more worried than I was at this point.

All I remember from those 2 days was getting a call from Dr. M – my doctor. She was eager to know what had happened in E.R. (Note to self: Book an appointment with Dr. M. I haven’t seen her since March 5th and while I’m hoping she has received reports on everything that has happened since then – I need to fill her in in-person and I know she’d want to see me) I filled Dr. M on the long night at Toronto General. Once again, can I express how much I love my doc? Seriously, if anyone is looking for a great family physician – I’d make the referral in the heartbeat.

Friday came along very quickly. My appointment with the Thoracic Clinic at Toronto General was at 9:00am with Dr. D. After waiting a few hours,  I was called in to a room and one of his nurses asked me to fill her in on my situation. After she jotted down notes, took my vitals (temperature, oxygen levels and blood pressure) and listened to my breathing she left me in the room to wait for Dr. D. After about 20 minutes, Dr. D came in and I filled him in with the same sort of update I provided the nurse with. He then told me that I was going to do my biopsy on that day and they they have decided to admit me in the hospital because of my breathing issues. From what I had read, I had thought biopsies were easy procedures with barely any recovery time and so I was not prepared at all to be admitted. It was totally unexpected. I guess I wasn’t aware just how worrisome-worthy my mass and breathing issues were. At this point, I had trouble breathing especially at night time and was getting no sleep because of it. I was up coughing for the majority of the night.

I was kicked out of the room due to the fact that they needed it to serve other patients and was asked to wait in the waiting room again as they arrange a hospital room for me. After a few hours and checking in with the receptionist a couple of times regarding the status of my hospital room, I was finally assigned to one. My mother and I walked on over to the room – and both she and I began calling and texting a few key family members and friends to let them know that I had been admitted.

By the time I was settled in my room and had some more vitals done, it was late afternoon and so I didn’t think I’d get to have my biopsy done. And well…I was wrong. A couple of hours later, one of the nurses came by informed me that a porter was going to come by in 10 minutes to pick me up for my biopsy. I don’t remember where my mom was at this point but I’m pretty sure she went home to grab some stuff from home for me. As I mentioned earlier, I was not prepared to stay over night and so I didn’t have anything with me. No contact lens solution, no change of clothes or underwear, no toothbrush. Nothing. Yes, I’m almost positive she had left to go get  some of my belongings from my home, bring Leia to her home and purchase some toiletries for me.

Luckily, my friend Sami was with me when mom wasn’t. She walked with the porter as he transported me on the wheelchair down to the scan and biopsy floor. At this point, I still didn’t know what to expect. As we waited in a waiting area for me to be transported in to the biopsy room, a doctor came up to Sami and I to introduce himself and to let us know that he would be doing the procedure. I asked him 3 questions 1) Will it hurt? 2) Can he put me under or give me some sort of a sedative and 3) How long is recovery time? He told me that it wouldn’t hurt so bad, that they could not put me under especially because of my breathing condition and that recovery time would be short. He had personality, was humorous and seemed very confident. While at this point, I still didn’t know exactly what to expect, it was enough to make me feel confident in his hands. In fact, as soon as he left to get ready for the procedure Sami and I turned to each other and said “I like him!”

Shortly after he had left, I was wheeled in to the biopsy room. Unfortunately, Sami could not join me. Which turned out to be a good thing (for her) because the biopsy was so painful, uncomfortable and bloody. I wouldn’t have wanted to subject Sami to that. Ugh….

“Oh, it’s just a small needle. It shouldn’t be so bad” a nurse told me when I was in my hospital room after expressing to her that I was nervous to go through a chest biopsy. Ha! A small needle my @$$!

I had to go through the CT scan a few times so that the doctor knew where exactly to make the incision to reach my mass. After marking the area with a marker, the doctor gave me some local anaesthesia on my chest via needles – which were kind of painful – to numb the incision area. The doc did worn me about the pain from the anaesthesia needles. At this point, I was starting to get nervous. I was really hoping that they were able to put me under.

An incision was made and some sort of a tube-like thing was inserted in to me. On a screen next to me, I could see how deep it went inside of me. It looked like an x-ray of someone who accidentally had a rod lodged in to their chest. The imaging was so clear. As soon as I saw that image – I was kind of scared and I had a tough time believe that was me on the screen. After that moment, I told myself to try to refrain from looking at that screen throughout the procedure. The screen was there for the doctor and his team to help guide them when gathering the cells.

The incision was made at the top of my left breast and so while I focused on looking at the ceiling the entire time, I could see all of the movement within my peripheral. Something was inserted in – probably that “small needle” and I could feel all 15 cm of it in my chest as they scraped around to gather cells. Apparently, it is not easy to get a sufficient amount of cells to test on and so sometimes it takes a few tries. And oh…did I ever feel every single try. I think they went in 4 or 5 times after that first time. Between each time, I could hear what seemed like another team member say  “It’s not enough. We need to go in again” When I heard that my reaction was something along the lines of “Ooooh, F$#%!”

I recall saying a couple of times “Oof – that hurts” And the doctor replied with “I know. Don’t worry. We’re almost done” and thinking to myself “Oh man…I did NOT expect this” I could also feel wetness and stickiness on my chest – and I didn’t dare look down to see what it was. I knew. I started to focus even harder than I already was on counting the dots on the ceiling above me. At one point I heard “We’ll have to change her gown” by one of the team members. And I knew exactly why.

After the procedure was finally done, the doctor said “I made a mess – we’ll have to change your gown” I laughed it off. It was  probably one really awkward nervous laugh because really, I was pretty horrified by the entire procedure and was so happy and relieved that it was over. I really tried to keep my eyes closed as they carefully changed me – but at some point, I saw my blood-soaked gown that they had taken off of me. I terrified – and so I was even happier that it was over with.

They carefully got me on to a stretcher  and brought me back out to the waiting room to wait for a porter to bring me up to my room. The first thing I said to Sami was “That was so crazy. I never want to do that again” At that point, I didn’t want to talk about it too much as I could still feel that 15cm needle being inserted inside of me. I was in a state of shock for the remainder of the day.

Sami stayed with me in my hospital room until someone else came along. I can’t recall if my mother showed up first – or a friend. Either way, I am so thankful to have had Sami with me for the biopsy. Seriously, I never want to do a chest biopsy ever again. It was was much more painful and uncomfortable than what you’d think a “a small needle” would do. It felt like I was stabbed in the chest – which was pretty much what had happened. And that feeling/pain in my chest lingered for a good week and a bit.


A week or two after my biopsy, my sister bought me Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips and when I flipped to this page, I may have screamed “YES!!!!!” really loud:

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2 replies »

  1. i am not there with you but tears are falling …you are so BRAVE ..trust me ….had it been someone else,…they would have sat and cried but you chose to fight it and yes girl..you are kicking its ass in true sense….you are the most beautiful !!! you are my new hero after my mom ands my son ! God bless

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