Merry Christmas biopsy #3

Today is Boxing Day and I decided to bypass all the sales and continue to recover from the past week. On Monday I had an appointment with a family doctor. Up to now I have not had a local family doctor. Unless you are over 55 they are very difficult to come by in Victoria. Aside from crazy Christmas vacation traffic on my way into town it was very unexciting and I will probably keep her as my doc if I can’t find anyone in the near future that is closer to me. After the appointment I ran some errands to prepare for Christmas Eve dinner with my in-laws.

Tuesday on the other hand was quite the gong show. First I met Sarah for coffee and a bite to eat. More semi-crazy traffic but otherwise we had fun as always. Then I had to head over to the Jubilee hospital for the repeat biopsy on my enlarged lymph node. When my oncologist gave me the time for the appointment she said that she didn’t know where the biopsy would be done so I should ask at the information desk.
I made it to the information desk with about 10 minutes to spare for my appointment. The clerk looked my up in the system and found a lab requestion for a fine needle biopsy. There was no other information. That seemed a little weird to me as the previous biopsy had been done in medical imaging but the clerk sent me to the outpatient lab that was off in a different wing of the building I was in.

When I got to the lab it was pretty quiet with only 1 staff member around. Lucky for me as soon as the staff member saw me she wandered off somewhere. I suspect that she was hoping I would just go away. After about 5 minutes she came back. I told her that I was scheduled to get a fine needle biopsy done and I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place. She looked at me with a slightly scared look on her face and told me that they didn’t do those things here. Here being the outpatient lab.
I told her that all that was in the computer was a lab requestion for the fine needle biopsy but the previous biopsy had been ultrasound directed. She very happily told me to go to medical imaging, which is in yet another wing of the building, so off I went.

When I got to medical imaging it was just a minute or so before my appointment time. I had to wait a couple minutes then I was called up to be checked in. The clerk looked me up in the computer and all she found was the lab requisition. She handed me off to another person that I think was the temporary scheduler while the regular scheduler was on vacation. The scheduler looked a few things up and couldn’t find any information. Eventually she decided that she should call my oncologist’s office since she couldn’t find any paperwork for me.
So, she talked to the nurse that normally knows everything at my oncologist’s office and nothing was figured out. The scheduler requested a requisition get faxed over to medical imaging and she could book me in for the following Tuesday. Ah crap.

I emailed my oncologist to let her know about the problem and then I decided I would grab another coffee before I headed home. I was standing in line to get coffee when I noticed that I had a voicemail on my phone. I checked the message and it was someone from the lab calling me to see if I would be coming in for my appointment as I was now half an hour late. The message didn’t tell me where I should actually be so as I was calling her back I went back to the outpatient lab.
I got voicemail but I was back at the lab by the time I hung up the phone. This time there were 2 people at the lab outpatient check in window. When I told them I was supposed to be getting a fine needle biopsy done they immediately told me “those aren’t done here you have to got up to the 5th floor to the fine needle aspirate lab”. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……….that makes so much sense. They gave me directions, I had to take a special elevator that was right beside medical imaging (of course, where else did you think the elevator would be?).
While I made the trek up to the FNA lab the clerk was going to phone up to left them know I was on the way.

Once I finally made it to the right place I only had to wait a couple minutes until the pathology tech came to get me. I was taken to a small exam room that had a bed and a cart that held all of the tech’s supplies. For once I was appropriately dressed, I had on a button down shirt with a tank top on underneath so I didn’t need a hospital gown with its special hospital laundry smell, I just had to take off the button down.
I chatted with the tech while we waited for the pathologist to come in. Back in the day, when I was a student tech, my very first rotation was in the anatomic pathology department at the Jubilee. Truly felt like my life had come full circle yet again.

After a few minutes the pathologist came in. Turns out he is good friends with my oncologist and he had done part of residency training in oncology at the Cancer Agency in Vancouver.
For the biopsy, the first part was a 25 gauge needle into the node and the fluid collected was put on a slide. The pathologist immediately took the slide out of the room to look at it under a microscope to confirm that he was in the right area and getting a good sample. He came back really quick and all things were a go.
The rest of the sample collection was 7 more needles, 1 was 25 gauge the rest 23 gauge, into the lymph node. The end result was enough sample to be able to confirm the ER and Her2 status of the cells. The pathologist said he would look at everything the following day, Christmas Eve, and I would be notified right away if there still was not enough sample and I would have to come back for a third attempt. The actual testing had to be sent to Vancouver so results will not come back until next week at the absolute soonest.
A bandaid was slapped over the poor, abused area of my armpit and I was told to expect some bruising, swelling, and pain. Then I got to go home. Yup. Got all 3. I have really only been able to start using my arm comfortably again today. My poor armpit sure looked and felt like it had been run over by a bus on Christmas Eve.

Then…….on Christmas Eve I went for a lymphatic drainage massage. For the last few weeks my lymphadema has been pretty bad and my left hand has been really sore to the point that there are times I really can’t use it. I am left handed just in case you didn’t know 😉
So, between the lymphadema on one side and the biopsies on the other side lifting and carrying has not really been a possible activity for a few days. I have gotten really good at sitting on the couch.

The massage itself isn’t really as relaxing feeling as a muscle massage for me. With my hand swollen it hurt every time something touched the back of it and about a quarter of the massage is just my hand. By the end the swelling does go down so it does hurt less and now, 2 days later, it is a little better.
Not long after I got home from my massage Ian got home from work and he brought most of his family. It was so great to see everyone!
We had traditional tourtiere for dinner, always a treat on Christmas Eve. And we drank lots and ate lots of Christmas treats and generally had a great time. A really fantastic way to celebrate Christmas!

Everyone headed back to Vancouver that evening so Ian and I had a quiet Christmas day with the pets. Just what I needed after all the appointments I had been through.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I may not post again until after the New Year unless I hear something about my biopsy results. Have a safe and happy New Year’s and I will be back in 2015 🎉

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