That day, the infamous Wednesday February 18, 2016 the #oncologist scheduled my #bone marrow biopsy. Luckily I had enough time to do a quick google search and get a sense of what was to be expected. What I was not ready for was the sedation or rather lack of sedation. Now for anyone that has had one, or seen one done, then you know what it is. For those that have not, please check out the following website: http://www.lymphomas.org.uk/about-lymphoma/tests-lymphoma/bone-marrow-tests Now consider what you just read and imagine going through that without any #sedation or local #anesthesia. I specifically told the doctor that it takes my body a while to feel the effects. He assumed a few minutes. Wrong! I felt everything. The sedative actually kicked in 30 minutes after they were done with the whole ordeal. I #cried like I never #cried in my life. I literally almost broke the nurse’s hand, I was grabbing on so tight. Even the doctor was aghast. He sat there looking at me while they had cleaned and bandaged me up until I was able to turn around onto my back. The guilt was contagious. I almost felt bad for him. Almost. Luckily the #sedative kicked in and I didn’t even have time to be angry.
Before it all started I kept looking at the tray because I wanted to see what instruments would be used. Zina kept telling me to look away, that I didn’t need to see it. But I wanted to. I’m not afraid of these things. I’ve never really been afraid of surgery or getting knocked out. In fact the first time I had #anesthesia, for an #endoscopy and #colonoscopy, I loved it! I begged the doctor to let me go back to sleep. It was the best rest of my life. But I will tell you the bone marrow biopsy and my ovarian cyst rupturing (in 2010) are both in the running for first place. I’m not sure which was less horrifying: a bubble the size of a tennis ball filled with blood attached to my ovary exploding inside my womb or having a screw driver drilled into my back, by hand – very slowly – through skin and bone – while completely wide awake in both cases.
I felt bad for Zina who had to wait outside and hear me #scream and #cry and for the nurse who’s hand I almost broke. Seriously! She was rubbing my head the whole time, but that didn’t help. Actually the cherry on the cake was that after I was done, they finally let me eat. The first cherry was that they brought me a bill for the food! But that’s not it. The second cherry was as I was getting wheeled out and had to checkout at reception, they handed me another bill for the juice that I asked for! I’m sitting in a wheelchair after having been drilled into like a plank of wood and you hand me a bill for some damn orange juice??? Oh but my friends it only gets better.
It just so happened that that day was one of the worst winter snowy days in Istanbul. The city had pretty much shut down. There were inches and inches of snow everywhere. And of course I live in Cihangir, one of the neighborhoods that is all hills. And where is my house? Almost at the bottom of the hill of course! So what else could have happened that day you ask? Well first Zina took me for a lovely meal. It was just what I needed, except sitting down was very painful and uncomfortable. We managed to finally get a cab that was willing to drop us off close to my house. How close? How about at the top of the fucking hill!!! That street is only about 400 meters long and it usually takes me a couple of minutes to walk up or down it. Imagine that street without a proper drainage system; snow falling, snow melting and then turning into water or ice, mopeds driving past you and very very very steep. Luckily I had on my Clarks gortex boots. They saved me. But you had to see it. Me walking in front of Zina, holding her hand, making sure that we walked in the areas where the snow had melted and that neither one of us would slip and fall and pull the other down. Don’t forget I just got drilled with no #anesthesia so you can imagine the amount of #pain I was in. What was even more hilarious was that I was helping her down the hill instead of the other way around. To this day we still have a great laugh about it. If you can’t find humor in certain situations, then forget about it. There is always a silver lining. So it literally took us about 45 min to an hour to walk down. No joke! We looked like the 3 stooges except there were only two of us and all we had to do was walk down the street! It was the #never-ending story… or rather the #never-ending day!
The next day I had my #PET scan (positron emission tomography): http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/tests/pet-scan. I was there for seven hours since they conveniently forgot to mention that I needed to empty my bowels and not just fast. Of course Zina was there and stayed the whole time. Amazing! That process was a bit of a #nightmare yet also a #relief. I did get quite a bit of rest in between session after they would inject me with highly radioactive liquids and wait for it to run through my veins. There was a lot of lying down which was nice. The not so nice part was trying to force a bowel movement. They even gave me a prescribed laxative that took 2 hours to work!
I was so done after that that I decided to leave for Rome for 4 days to get a breather. I left the next day, which was a Friday and did not come back until Monday. I called Cookie and Simo that Thursday night and told them both I was coming to Rome. Simo changed her Friday night plans for me so we could spend some time together (it was the first time she learned about what was happening) and for the other 2 nights I stayed with Cookie’s parents. I needed to get away and not sit in Istanbul fretting and chain smoking and making myself lose my mind. It was actually nice. It was what I needed. A sense of #home, #familiarity, someone to look after me and tell me it was going to be ok. Not having to sleep #alone in my apartment. Cookie’s mom injected me with so much juice from her NutriBullet I almost turned into a cucumber! They were of course delicious. I saw Cookie, Alessandra, her kids, and I even danced for a few minutes. It was the best time I ever had dancing. There I was in my jeans and sweater with my hand at the bar doing what I could. Not bending too much forewords or backwards because my right side had been massacred by the surgery and the biopsy. But it was #amazing.
Alas, it was time to go back and face #reality. On Wednesday Feb 25, 2015 I went back to my doctor for the ‘official’ diagnosis and prognosis, with Zina by my side of course. He told me it was Stage 1A. I was so relieved. It literally felt like a Boeing 747 had been lifted off my heart and stomach. I even shed a few #tears of #relief. His suggestion was to immediately remove the other nodes on the left (now there were 3) and to start radiation. I decided to seek a second opinion, which was my right. I made an appointment that day to see a doctor in London. Unfortunately, what he told me was not what I expected at all…