Stuart and I went to Dr. Hellner's office this morning for a follow-up appointment after my mediastinoscopy last week and my PET scan yesterday.
Dr. Hellner reviewed the fact that the initial results of the biopsy were suggestive of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Nodular Sclerosis subtype. The news today was that the PET scan showed lyphadenopathy below my diaphragm, specifically in my abdomen. My spleen was also involved, although I'd been told on multiple occasions that the spleen is a "glorified lymph node" and is often affected. The fact that I have disease above and below my diaphragm means that I am now considered to have an advanced stage (Stage III or Stage IV) of Lymphoma. Stage IV means that the disease has spread to organs outside the lymph system, such as liver, lung, or bone marrow. It is for that reason that I had the privilege of a bone marrow biopsy today. Dr. Hellner was leaving for a vacation to Napa that evening, so her day was incredibly busy. She asked us to come back in the afternoon to have the procedure.
Back at the office at around 3:30 to have the bone marrow biopsy done. I know that many of you have heard nightmare stories about how painful this procedure is, but my procedure was not that bad thanks to the wonderful Dr. Hellner and her capable nurse, Carol. The procedure lasted about 15 minutes, 30 if you count the 15 minutes I spent stalling waiting for the Valium I took to kick in. I assumed the fetal position on the exam table, hind quarters hanging in the breeze as Dr. Hellner pushed a thick needle into my lower back/hip. The sensation was mostly one of pressure, with the exception of the time when the fluid marrow was extracted, which was more akin to feeling someone sucking the contents of your legs through a straw in rapid fashion.
We headed home knowing that results of this terrible test would not be back until next week.