BRIEF NOTE: Feel free to share these links around. I really don’t mind you sharing with your friends, or people you think might know me, or maybe you think they know me – or maybe you know someone who is either directly or indirectly going through cancer. If these posts might help them understand what’s happening and know that they’re not alone, that’s great!
I’m not going to publish them directly to my social media, because I don’t want the algorithms all wonky (but you’re more than welcome to.) Mainly, this is just a way for me to be lazy so that I don’t have to type out 1200 words of text messages on six platforms to explain everything that’s going on to a couple of dozen people who might ask…
They said there might be a headache. And not just any headache, it would be a migraine times ten. As it happens, when you reduce the fluid running through your spinal column, there is a great likelihood that the upper parts of that canal might just feel a bit parched. In my case, the pain racked me from the frontal lobe down to just beneath my shoulder blades.
This is… Spinal Tap?
They really don’t call them spinal taps anymore – at least not in polite company. What I went through on Friday was called a “lumbar puncture.” Wikipedia doesn’t mince words:
…also known as a spinal tap, is a medical procedure in which a needle is inserted into the spinal canal, most commonly to collect cerebrospinal fluid for diagnostic testing.Wikipedia
The procedure itself isn’t that bad. They sting you with lidocaine, get you numb, and then you feel some pressure, and a little negative pressure as they draw the fluid. They also check the pressure of that fluid, as high pressure can be responsible for the swelling we discovered behind my eye. The normal range is 10-18, and I came in at 24. So they brought that down.
They did an analysis of that sample, and didn’t find any cancer, which is great. They also didn’t find any platelets, which is also great, because they aren’t supposed to be there. However, in this instance, those platelets would have been useful. Often, you end up with a leak, which results in something called a spinal headache, which is more intense than a migraine, and runs from the frontal lobe down to the middle of your back.
Bring on the Patch
The Blood Patch. It is not a grunge album from some band you can’t find on Spotify. It’s a technique to close off that leaky hole in your spinal column.
It’s a simple procedure:
- Stab the patient with Lidocaine next to the previous spot.
- Numb the area
- Insert yet another needle
- Put a third needle in the arm to get a small blood sample
- Transfer the blood quickly to the second needle, so the platelets can clot the leak
- Instant pain relief
That last bullet isn’t a joke. It is instant. And that’s what I have to look forward to on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, in the Marrow…
Monday, however, was extra painful. Day three of spinal headache was accompanied by the extraction of a marrow sample, from the most bony part of my butt. And a chip of the bone, because we need to look at the forest and the trees, or something like that.
I will spare you those details for now.
But so far, all the pain is worth the peace of mind of knowing that so far, the sarcoma in my calf is flying solo. (Let’s call him McMurray, for future reference.)
Sometime Tuesday or Wednesday, we will find out whether McMurray has poisoned the forest, or if he is just squatting on that patch of land in my leg. And Thursday, we can start round one of the chemo.
There are no first round knockouts. I am ready to go the distance. You’re dead to me, McMurray. Because I am a fighter, and I have a huge team of great people in my corner. (If you’re reading this, you’re one of them, and I thank you for blessing me.)
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