Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 28: The Biopsy and an Apology

My wife's sister expressed a little dismay that she wasn't among those included in people I'm sure read my blog to the end (July 26). So did at least 10 others. But maybe my brother James said it best of all:

"What the heck! I read the whole boring thing! Jeez Bro! I love you man!"

Dr. Lammers preparing for biopsy
So I thought I was just jabbing at my own long-windedness, but apparently I stepped on a lot of toes. I should know better. I've been alive for 50 years—and paying attention for nearly 40 of those—and I've never seen being self-conscious and apologetic in advance do anyone any good in any situation.

So now I'll apologize afterwards. That was a stupid comment I wrote about people not reading all of that blog.


I hear a lot of comments about my being strong, which I really appreciate. Sometimes, when I'm worn out, I'm pretty emotional, and the compliments make me cry.

But I want to make it clear that the biggest temptation I struggle with here is strength.

For example, this morning I knew the biopsy was coming. I made up my mind that whether the biopsy was dirty or clean I was going to face what was coming as God's will. I made up my mind to be strong and have a good attitude.

But I felt awful.

I'll let Hannah tell you about the birds that came to watch
I'm sure I could have been strong, maintained a positive attitude, and cheered up the people around me even while anxiously awaiting the marrow results.

But my strength is my enemy. If I had relied on my strength, I assure you that the hemorrhoids around day 10 would have wiped out my entire supply.

I'll let her tell you about the "good luck" gloves, too
So this morning I stopped. I climbed into bed, rolled onto my side, and started singing songs. Lorie (or Hannah, whichever you know her by) came and sat by my side and prayed for me. We got in the presence of God, and all need for strength disappeared.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

Sorry, I memorized that verse many years ago in King James English.

In God's presence, you don't need strength. Truly, it's all good.

In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (I think that's Psalm 16)

Pain and Conversation Value

The bone core
After the biopsy, Dr. Strickland asked me how I was doing.

"That was nothing compared to what I've gone through on the other side of that door," I said, pointing to the bathroom.

Dr. Strickland, who was watching Dr. Lammers perform the biopsy, said, "I'm sure Dr. Lammers will be glad to know that his biopsies are better than hemorrhoids."

In fact, there's not that much pain involved in a marrow biopsy, and it's a really bizarre experience. There's just nothing with which to compare the feeling of someone poking around inside your hip bone while you're awake. (Um, without Lidocaine, I assume it would be intolerable pain.)

So, I started thinking. You know, a marrow biopsy is worth having. The experience is probably of greater interest than the pain involved. (I met someone who volunteered for one just to provide her school with some healthy marrow for comparison.)

Hemorrhoids and tongue sores? Much greater pain, no experience value. I don't recommend those.

And then there's the conversation value. You'll probably enjoy the following video. (I'm sure that these YouTube videos of Brian Regan are pirated, so I only post or link to the short ones, and if you like them, maybe you'll buy his DVDs, CDs, or go see a show. Well, don't go see a show. They're all sold out, and they're all expensive. More power to him. He's funny, and he's clean. Rare combination nowadays.)

When We Know the Biopsy Results

We may know the results tonight, but this is a definitely a case where no news is good news.

There's a test that has to be run overnight. If one of the tests before that one is bad, then they can tell me my biopsy was dirty this evening. My hope is that Dr. Strickland does not appear at my door at all today.

If they're clean, then they can't confirm the clean result until the overnight test is run, too, so we don't want to know anything till at least tomorrow. Maybe they can report that at the morning rounds (about 8:30 am), but I doubt it. More likely, all the morning stuff has to happen, and I won't hear anything till afternoon.

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