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Monday, March 25, 2013

Bone Marrow Biopsy Day

The other day, we received a letter from the company that runs the helicopter medical transport service that air-lifted Gretchen from Newburyport to Boston for her surgery.  They sent the bill to us because they needed an assignment of benefits form before they could bill Blue Cross.  It was quite eye-popping.  The balance due is $33,962.07!  Naturally, I had Gretchen sign the form immediately and got it into the mail ASAP.  I don't know how much of this the insurance will pay, but I can't wait to see how much we will owe afterwards.  I'm not complaining, mind you.  Without this service, she might not be here right now, so I couldn't put a price on that.  However, if any of you are looking for a lucrative business to get into, this could be it!

Gretchen continues to recover slowly, as her headaches, dizziness, and shoulder pain have all improved considerably.  Last week, she had a transformation in attitude.  Up until then, she was just feeling very grateful for everything.  But as we walked into the rehab unit last Tuesday, she decided that she was done being grateful...now she was pissed.  The nurses all understood completely.  Why wouldn't she be angry?  After all, being brain damaged kind of sucks.  I think this is just a healthy evolution in her recovery, which will have its ups and downs along the way.  She's doing better all the time, and I am confident of her eventual full recovery.  As for me, I am still feeling very grateful.

After all of Gretchen's recent travails, today it was my turn.  A year after my ASCT, it was time for another bone marrow biopsy to check my progress.  This is not the most pleasant procedure, and I still have vivid memories of my first bone biopsy performed by my previous hematologist at Lahey Clinic.  That really sucked.  I don't think doctors should be allowed to perform this procedure, since they are always rushed for time and don't do very many of them.  They should leave this to the PAs, who do them all day long and are experts in the procedure.

Before the procedure, the tech asked my how my day was, and I said it was great until then, but I wasn't too sure about the rest of it.  He said that if I didn't feel that way, they would probably have to keep me for observation.  ;-)  The biggest concern I had was that the needle might impinge on the sciatic nerve, which could be very painful and have aftereffects for quite a while.  This happened to fellow blogger, Elizabeth (who has smoldering myeloma), when she had her bone marrow biopsy done at DFCI last July.  Here is a link to her description of that:  Elizabeth's bone marrow biopsy

Anyway, I was thrilled to learn that Zack was to be my PA for this procedure today.  He did my last biopsy in August, which was wasn't bad at all.  Today was no different...better actually.  He talked me through every stage:  collecting the marrow aspirate and taking a piece of the bone.  It really helps to know what is coming and be prepared.  There was actually very little pain, so it was really a piece of cake!  I was out of there and feeling fine in no time.  I will definitely ask for him again when I have my next bone marrow biopsy.

Afterwards, Gretchen and I met our friend, Denise, for lunch in Boston at a French restaurant.  One of the menu items was roasted bone marrow.  Are you kidding me?  No thanks!  Anyway, we had a nice lunch and a delightful time. 




8 comments:

  1. Bill,
    I have been behind in reading posts, but am so thankful to now be caught up on both fronts; Gretchen's and yours! As I read of her injuries and subsequent treatment and surgeon, I clearly see God's hand of protection on her life. He is certainly not finished with her yet and there is much more life to live! How wonderful that you are in a place, healthwise, to be able to care for her and reverse roles for a bit...truly a team effort. Though recovery can't happen fast enough for most of us, at least both of you are progressing and moving forward. Nice to read about lunches out again, and hopefully spring will bring renewed vigor and excitement over the gift of life both of you are enjoying together. EZ and I send continued prayers for Gretchen's recovery and your maintenance status!

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    1. Thank you, Linda. Yes, I believe Gretchen has been spared because her job here is not yet done. She has a lot of healing to do, not just for herself, but for others who need her. I just caught up on your blog, and I'm glad EZ is doing well. I have my own colonoscopy in a few weeks. I'm glad his went well. Best regards,
      Bill

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  2. Hi Bill,
    Just caught up with your recent posts. I'm really glad the news continues to be good for both of you.
    Marty Cain

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    1. Thanks, Marty. I appreciate your support.

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  3. Hi Bill,

    I’m so happy to hear your recent BMB went well and that your wife’s condition is improving. I had Zack for my BMB in December – it wasn’t bad at all! Definitely night and day compared to my horrible experience in July with a different PA at DFCI…who shall remain nameless. ;) I have to admit, I feel pretty cool being featured in your blog! Best wishes to you and your family.

    Take care,
    Elizabeth

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    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your comments and best wishes. I recall reading about your unpleasant BMB last July. It was on my mind while I was waiting, so I thought it appropriate to reference it in my blog post. I will definitely ask specifically for Zack for my future BMBs.

      Best,
      Bill

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  4. Glad to read that your wife is doing better. And glad that you're doing well. Thanks so much for your kind words and support. It means a lot to me.

    Matt

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  5. Matt, that's awesome that you did the Big Climb in Seattle for such a good cause. Perhaps one year I will come with you to do the Big Climb in support of MM research.

    Regards,

    Bill

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