A bone marrow biopsy is just that – a biopsy of your bone. I hadn’t bothered to Google anything on the procedure, and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t prior to getting in my car and driving there under my own free will, unforced.
Let me tell you a little something about Chesterton, IN which I had no prior knowledge of, having lived there only 3 short months: it is a quaint sort of place. And by quaint, I mean backwoods living under the auspices of munchkins. Chesterton is home to the Annual Wizard of Ozfestival. Straight up. And yes, under the heading of I’m going totally cliché here just because we’re talking all things flying monkey creepy already, I was a long way from home and there were no red shoes in sight. All I wanted was to be back home in Ohio, living a normal cancer-free life, and forget that this nightmare had been taking place.
I arrived at the location to have my first of many bone marrow biopsies, and it was nothing like I had envisioned. The building was a completely stand-alone brick house-like complex out in the middle of nowhere directly off Highway 49. It was not inviting; it was not professional. It was scary before I even went inside. Upon entering, I was greeted by someone that I’m pretty sure did not have official U.S. residency established but was warm and friendly nonetheless. The entry smelled of vanilla and contained two 1960’s mismatched plaid couches. (Not kidding), incense was burning on the end tables between them. Perfect.
The “Doctor” walked out and all I can remember of her is that her first name was Mary, she was tall and thin with curly hair, and had clearly decorated the place herself. She led me back into the room where the biopsy would take place and explained a bit about it. I had already made up my mind that “whatever it takes” was my motto henceforth; I would do whatever was necessary, whateverwas in my power to get through this ordeal. I had to get rid of this cancer, because if I didn’t, my daughter would not only be motherless, she wouldn’t even remember anything about her Mom. She’d have no memories, no recollections of how much I loved her. That thought surely had to be more painful than any physical pain I would undergo…
It hurt. You cannot anesthetize a bone, only the skin where the drill enters. I lay down on my left side; she numbed my right hip, waited a few minutes, then came back in, inserted the drill and started grinding. Literally, it’s just twist and twist and twist until that thing hits the bone and then whoop! Pop it back with a piece of bone as a souvenir. (Thanks for visiting, do not EVER come here again you stupid, unwanted visitor.)
All that anger aside, here’s what else I remember about my first biopsy: I didn’t cry in pain, but I had a tear running slowly down my left cheek, the one closest to the table. I remember that tear very specifically. It was one not so much of writhing physical pain, but emotional “what am I going to do?” pain. There is a definite difference, and we all know it well at one point or another in our lives.
After leaving that day, I went back to my apartment and did nothing. I watched the world pass by out my window, along with the hands on the clock until it was time to go pick up Liv from the Montessori school.
I waited for her, and I waited anxiously for those results.