June 7, 2011
Tuesday morning, 9:00 a.m. appointment for my biopsy. We just found out, less than 24 hours ago, I was going to have the biopsy. There was no time to reflect or get scared about what I was about to go through. Up to this point, we really didn’t how this procedure was going to go down. The location of the mass would determine how they would get the sample.
We filled out the patient on-boarding paperwork. This hospital was busy. They took me back to the patient waiting room, where I suited into my surgery regalia.
The room was a beehive of activity, patients everywhere and nurses buzzing all over. There was a team of nurses that attended to me. One to get me settled in, one to go over my paperwork, one to give me an IV and another to administer some IV cocktail.
I noticed the doctor’s name on my wristband had my doctor’s last name, but a different first. I double checked with a nurse. Apparently, they had my doctor’s wife. The thoracic surgeon works with his wife, another doctor, in the same office. The hospital got confused because they weren’t used to things being done through the interwebs. Fancy huh? How is it 2011 and they’re just now getting things done this way? Amazing. Nevertheless, this was just a minor hiccup that they straightened out. Note to the reader: Don’t go to an office that has two doctors with the same name. Just kidding. They always make you double check your info and there’s a reason why. This could’ve caused a billing nightmare.
After an hour in the waiting room, an orderly came to take me to get a CT scan. The whole procedure would take place on the CT scan table. The surgeon would use the scan to determine how to get the sample. They put me on the table and had me chill…literally. Why are all these rooms so freakin’ cold? Luckily they had heated blankets. They started the CT scan by injecting me with the radiation and having me hold my breath and release while the table moved me back and forth through the scanner. There were two nurses there to assist the surgeon. They were very nice ladies that made me feel comfortable. They explained how they would get the sample. They would go in through my chest, directly to the mass. A syringe-like tool would pull samples of the mass, kind’ve like drilling for oil. She informed me I would hear clicking noises whenever a sample was pulled. After the biopsy they would do a thoracentesis, with which I was all too familiar. We just had to sit back and wait for the surgeon to get there.
I fell asleep waiting. It was about an hour before he showed up. He came in and he didn’t have any weird features that stood out. White guy, I’m guessing, in his mid to late 40’s, wearing scrubs and a bandana with some crazy print on it. He seemed pretty normal to me, until he opened his mouth. He must think he’s funny, but I don’t think anyone about to get drilled in the chest would be in the chuckling mood. Ahhh, sarcasm and surgery – together at last! The first thing he said to me: “Lemme guess, the doctor said you have 2 days to live? And I’m a day late. He probably told you your heart is in danger because of tamponade, yadda yadda yadda.” Hi-larious! Then it dawned on me. What my concerned doctor was politely trying to say about this guy is he’s a good surgeon, but a colossal dickhead.
They started with the biopsy. I had to lie on my back with my arms above my head. Another localized anesthesia procedure. Apparently, they wanted me to be awake so I’d have something to blog about. They injected the lidocaine in my chest, all the way down to my ribs. Then Jed Clampett, took out a big ass needle and started drilling next to my right nipple. One of the nurses consoled me during the whole procedure. Wiping my forehead of sweat and telling me I was doing well and other encouraging words. Then she scratched me behind my ear and gave me a milkbone. The other nurse was there to assist the surgeon. I’m just lying on my back, listening to the weird clicking sounds as he drilled away. I thought it’d be neat to take a peek at the procedure going on right before my eyes. Bad idea! I felt fine until I saw the bloody needle and his hand covered in blood. I started getting cold sweats and feeling nauseous. Again, it must’ve been the lidocaine! The nurse gave me a sedative to help with the nausea. The nurses asked if I had troubles with needles. I explained not really, but the last procedure I had gave me a similar reaction. The surgeon laughed and said sarcastically, “You don’t have problems with needles, you just get nauseous every time?” WTF dude?! Unfortunately, I was in the uncompromising position of being a pin cushion to tell the dude to stop being a prick. The nurse said I might be allergic to lidocaine, so let them know next time you get it. They finished up on the biopsy and it was time for some more lung tapping.
I explained I had a thoracentesis done about three weeks before by a pulmonologist. In a patronizing way, he asked, “Why’d you go to a pulmonologist?” Because of my vast medical knowledge of mediastinal masses, I insisted on a pulmonologist! I explained, my doctor made the appointment and he drained about 1700 cc of fluid from my right lung. They didn’t have any record of this, but they weren’t going to let that get in the way of a little fun. This time they were going to go in through the front. The doctor was poking his finger on my ribs to see where he would go in. Just the pressure of his finger hurt. I couldn’t wait for the needles to get in there. Same procedure as before, except this time they used an ultrasound to guide the straw into my lung. Which made me wonder, how did the pulmonologist know where to stick the elephant needle when he did the procedure? The surgeon explained that the pulmonologist was just guessing and proceeded to laugh at his funny. Good to know. This lung draining hurt a lot more than the last one. It was much more painful getting the lidocaine injections on the front of my ribs than it was through the back. Stick your finger in your lower side ribs. Is it tender? Now stab that spot with a needle. Do it! They drained me for about 15 minutes. When they were finished, he showed me the fluid. Shockingly, it was about the same amount as the first time. I’m guessing another 1400 – 1500 cc. Apparently, I’m amphibious.
After he finished, I asked if he recommended anything for the pain from my punctured lung. I told him that my last thoracentesis gave me the worst shooting pains whenever I burped. He gave me the sage advice, “don’t burp.” Thank you, Patch Adams! If I saw this guy again, I would give him a swift kick to the nuts. He was such a fucking asshole. I guess you feel like you have the liberty to be one when someone is at your mercy. Nevertheless, the procedures were done and I was done with him.
They carted me off to get some x-rays of my chest. The tech was a nice lady. She said she was in the room for my biopsy and that I did a really good job. Then she scratched my belly and gave me a pig’s ear. She took a look at my x-rays and the first thing she said was my heart looked really big. Stark contrast to what Erica’s been telling me for years.
After the x-rays, they rolled me to the waiting room, where I would hang out for 3 hours for monitoring. They kept me there in case my lung collapsed. Good to know. The last time my lung was tapped he sent me on my merry way. Could my lung have collapsed that time?
Mr. Miyagi came to visit me in the waiting room to see how I was doing. I take back all the bad things I said about his age. I would have much rather had him do the biopsy. He said he should get the biopsy results within a day or two and will give me a call. Erica, her friend Stephanie, my mother in law, Evelyn and my dad all came by to pay me a visit. Nothing relieves the stress of surgery like a visit from your mother in law. All joking aside, they were all a warm welcome after what I just went through. The hospital gave me their rendition of a turkey lunch and Erica fed it to me…well, at least for this bite.
As far as lidocaine and torturous procedures went, I thought this was the end of the road. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come.