Marian's Bone Marrow Biopsy

My mother-in-law, Marian, had her bone marrow biopsy today. John has had two already. He is no wimp when it comes to pain and he said they were painful. So I was dreading this day for her. But she did great. The nurse who took her vitals told us that they had a new nurse practitioner doing them now and she was extremely experienced. Experience means skill. She also told us that this NP had done over 9,000 bone marrow biopsies and worked at the Mayo Clinic. She didn't think Marian would even need to take any pre-meds. But if she did want something to relax her, they would give her Ativan. Since it was her first BMB, another nurse said it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to go ahead and take it.

Of course, I always think it's best to take drugs if there is a chance of pain. LOL. But I did not try to influence Marian's decision. I left it up to her and she took the pill.

The Ativan made her pretty sleepy and she was VERY relaxed. But she woke up enough to converse with the NP about the procedure. This NP explained that she uses two to three times as much lidocaine as is normally included in a biopsy kit. And she has great success with controlling the pain. She didn't promise there wouldn't be any pain, but she said it would be minimal. She also said she has learned how to hit just the right spot. She can usually tell just by feeling the hip.

When it was over, Marian's first words were, "That was it?" She said it really wasn't painful. I was SO relieved! If you saw the instrument they use for this, you would be amazed that she did not feel pain. It doesn't look like a needle. It looks more like a nail with a bar on top, which is what the NP uses to push it down into the bone. (It looks bigger and scarier than this in person. Marian didn't see it until after the biopsy.) 

Marian says she is still not hurting at all, but she will probably be sore tomorrow. She slept in the car all the way home and then we stopped to eat. She said a few funny things to the server and I could tell she was still a little loopy. But she ate well (then promptly fell back asleep in the car on the way home). At this moment, she is sitting on the couch dozing off and on.

CT scans in the morning and then treatment will begin next week (Thursday).

Thanks for all the prayers. I hope this nurse practitioner stays with Dr. Flinn forever, since there will be more bone marrow biopsies in both John and Marian's futures.


JuJu said…
Wow ... that picture alone makes me hurt! So, what is the treatment that Marian will have to undergo? Does this mean that her illness has advanced or changed in some way?
Shari said…
Marian will be having weekly Rituxan infusions (for eight weeks) in combination with an experimental drug called CAL-101.

Both of these drugs are considered milder treatments than chemotherapy. My husband completely failed chemo (FCR), but he has responded amazingly well to a low dose of CAL-101 as single agent. The trial with CAL-101 alone has been closed to new CLL patients and they are studying it in combination with other drugs now. For patients whose CLL is progressing mainly in the blood, it works better as a combination therapy (or so they think at this point). But my husband's CLL was progressing primarily in his lymph nodes and CAL-101 seems to be extremely effective on CLL in the lymph nodes. If you have done a lot of CLL research, like I have, then you may already know a lot of this.