What I Expected

Halloween is a time when people get to pretend to be someone or something else. Something I really wanted to embrace after the year I have been having. Instead I got to be the same person having medical issues. While you were getting dressed up and trying to win your office costume contest, or at your kid’s school watching the parade of tiny goblins, and ghouls, and Frozen characters galore, I was at the hospital getting ready to be jabbed in the liver.

Constant blood tests have become part of my on-going health issues. These aren’t so bad, a quick poke in the arm and I’m in and out in five minutes. The most recent test did show that my blood-liver numbers, or whatever the hell it’s actually called, was still a bit high and troubling. So after an ultrasound, an MRI, and numerous blood tests my doctor wanted to do the next possible procedure to figure out what the hell is up with my stupid liver. That next procedure was a liver biopsy.

So my doctor said there’s a liver issue and we’re doing a liver biopsy, and I spent the next few days freaking out because my mind likes to think about the worst possible things, and because I used the internet, perhaps because I have a learning disability. Nothing good can come from researching on the internet.

I scheduled the procedure for as soon as possible which happened to be Halloween, at 8 a.m. then being told I had arrive two hours prior, at 6 a.m. Um, what? Ok whatever, let’s just do this.

When I arrived at 6 a.m. I got to answer all the usual medical history questions, pretty standard except there was a question about my falling habits and if I was afraid of falling. I get there is damage that can arise from a fall, especially as one gets older, but these were still a few questions that took me by surprise and that I obviously continued to think about. For the record, any fear I have of falling is based solely on the height from which I am falling.

After answering all the same old questions, and a few new ones, I was taken to what would be my room for the next five hours. Once there I was hooked up to electrodes to monitor my heart, a blood pressure cuff, and they put an IV in which as usual was more difficult than it should be. I apparently have skinny veins. The nurse who basically took care of other aspect had to get someone more capable of dealing with my problematic veins. She eventually got one in, and I would end up with a giant bruise in that general area. Then I was asked more familiar medical questions. Not sure why these necessitated me to be there 2 hours before the procedure.

Finally the nurse practitioner came in and gave me a quick but very detailed run down on the whole procedure. Her thoroughness and overall demeanor were a huge comfort. IT really is amazing how something like bed-side manner can affect any situation. The biopsy starts with a mixture of something (there were a lot of medical words thrown at me that I did not retain) with what was described as top of the line Valium put through my IV. This wasn’t meant to knock me out, but make me a bit out of it. She described it as me feeling super sleepy but still very responsive. She was right and it was delightful.

Then I was to be put into a CT scan. I got a little apprehensive at this because of the claustrophobia issue I had trying to get an MRI. I was assured that IV cocktail would quell any of those fears, and that it was a more open ended machine and I would be going in feet first with my chest and head completely exposed. Again she was right. The cocktail was kicking in and I went into the CT without a care. At that point I could have lied there all damn day.

I came out of the CT and they made a mark on me. Then the area from just below my pec to just above my pelvis and equally as wide was smeared with an iodine based disinfectant to keep the soon to be made puncture wound clean. Turns out my skin has a bit of problem with iodine, or one of the other ingredients. I wouldn’t learn this until the next day, and be reminded of it for several days after.

The basic prep was done: I was stoned, they had pictures of where to go, and the area was clean. They did final prep of numbing the area, so a minor pinch I felt. Then they did the procedure. I couldn’t see, nor did I want to, what exactly they were doing, but the nurse practitioner said they would jam a needle in me and extract some bit of liver. Those were not her exact words. I felt a bit of discomfort when they reached the actual liver. It was sort of like a cramping feeling across the top of my abdomen. That and the pinch from the numbing needle were the only pain I felt. It was so mild. Additionally, this entire procedure, from the moment they rolled me out of my room to the moment they rolled me back in had to be no more than 15 minutes and left a puncture wound about the size of a bug bite. The whole thing was so much better than all the nightmares I conjured up the weekend before.

It would take them a few days to get actual results on what’s going on with my liver (I’m still waiting on those) but I had to stick around the hospital for an additional four hours. Turns out the liver is quite the blood bag. With any liver biopsy there is a possibility of internal bleeding. So over the next four hours I had to make sure there wasn’t blood leaking from the bandage, or that there wasn’t bloating or pain in the abdominal region. Basically just hang out here and watch some TV, try not to think about your belly filling with blood. Seriously, don’t think about it, just let Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed distract you, but still monitor what’s going on.

There wasn’t any bleeding, so they ripped off the heart monitor electrodes along with a bunch of chest hair, which hurt more than anything else I experienced that day.

I came home, was still a bit loopy, and fell asleep watching some movie. Then I awoke and instead of enjoying any kind of Halloween activities I spent the evening and all the time since then still anxious about the results. I’m planning for the worst, but hoping for the best. At least I’ll finally know what the hell is going on, and that’s something.

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