I Survived the Biopsy

This post was published to my personal blog on March 26, 2011. I’m publishing it here so those interested may read it.

Wednesday morning, hubby and I dropped our 2.5 year old boy off at his grandparents’ house. After my husband and his dad administered a blessing to me, we headed off to the hospital. I put on a hospital gown, had an IV lead inserted into my arm (in case I needed a blood transfusion, ya know), and got the run down from an adorable male nephrologist whom I had never met before. He was the one doing the biopsy.

He went over the risks for me, which actually sounded a LOT worse than my other doctor had described to me. He said 1 in10 patients will bleed and have blood in their urine but the bleeding stops on it’s own and it’s no big deal. The rest I don’t remember exactly, but it was something like: 1 in 100 will bleed and the bleeding will not stop on it’s own and they will need to stop the bleeding at the site. 1 in 1000 will have permanent damage to the kidney. 1 in 10,ooo will bleed an will need a catheter through their artery to stop it. Or was the 1 in 10,ooo the one where nothing stops the bleeding and they have to remove the entire kidney? Needless to say, I was horrified by these stats. I was about ready to call off the biopsy! I’d rather adopt a child or go through pregnancy without the extra knowledge about my kidneys than face those sort of risks! But upon seeing my anxiety rise, he reassured me that those were old stats, before they used ultrasound to guide them. He was just required to tell me those risks. Whew! He reassured me that none of his patients has ever bled.

So the biopsy was done in the radiology room with the same ultrasound tech that looked at my kidneys a month ago. I laid on my stomach and they put a towel under my abdomen to help push my kidney closer to the surface. The doctor cleaned my back with some tingly soap and then put the thing on, I forget what it’s called, that’s like a papery sheet with a opening in the middle. He said he was going to give me a couple of bee-sting shots, which was the Novocaine, I believe. I haven’t had a bee sting since I was eight, but those shots certainly brought it back to me! Ouch! Then they used something else to numb all the way down to my kidney, which was actually only about two centimeters from the surface. Next was the biopsy needle. I could feel the pressure of it, which was annoying. When he was in position he “fired” it and it made a loud snapping sound. Of course anesthesia never works 100% for me, so I felt some pain, but not too bad. It was a good sample, but they wanted 2-3 of them, so he went in again. This time, when he fired, I felt a light, shooting pain through my kidney. It wasn’t very painful, but afterward I started to feel nauseated. He failed to capture a sample that time, so had to go in again. I was feeling very sick and wanted them to stop, lest I throw up on the table. They told me to take deep breathes, which I did, and slowly the nausea subsided, only to be replaced with an intense cold sweat over my whole body. Despite the coldness of the sweat, I was so hot that I wished all my clothing could be stripped off and have a cool fan blowing on me. But then, the sweat warmed and I started to feel normal again. That’s when the doctor stopped prodding me.

I was bleeding. They saw the black blob on the ultrasound screen. The doctor has nicked an artery. Fortunately, it stabilized quickly and they didn’t have to do anything. But it meant that they couldn’t get any more samples. They had to stick with the one they got. How ironic, I thought, that they could have stopped with the first and not caused me to bleed, and they would have ended up with the same amount of tissue. I guess the doctor lost his no-bleed streak. He apologized to me and looked like he felt awful about it.

They had me lay on my back and put a rolled up towel under my back to put pressure on my kidney. What started off as uncomfortable turned into sheer TORTURE over the next couple of hours. I had tears streaming down my face as my lower back freaked out in response to the awkward position and lack of support. The area where the towel was pressing on was pretty painful, too. They gave me two doses of Valium to help, but I was still crying. It actually reminded me of childbirth labor, as the only way I could control the pain was by focusing on a spot on the ceiling and sort of semi-hypnotize myself, like I did to survive the pain when I was in labor with my son. I was so grateful when, two and half hours later, the ultrasound tech came in to check on the hematoma. He decided it looked stable and I was relieved of the towel. Again, I was reminded of childbirth–it felt very similar to having just given birth: tired and sore, but so relieved. Hubby joked that the towel was my baby.

Smiling only for the benefit of my little boy.

The remainder of the day was mostly with me on my back, talking with my dear husband, chatting with my mom, updating my status on facebook, and texting with my friend Cassie, and then at dinnertime, a visit from my little boy. He was pretty unsettled by the sight of me, laying in a strange bed, with wires sticking out of me. He wouldn’t come to me at first, which didn’t surprise me–I had seen my two-year-old niece do the same thing when I took her to visit her mom in the hospital a few years ago. I gave him some time, and then we finally coaxed him into my arms. He looked very, very sad, and almost reluctant to cuddle with me, but at the same time seemed relieved that he could. He lay his head down on my chest and didn’t move for a long time. He helped me eat my dinner, popping fruit in my mouth and fork-fulls of steak and potatoes. After he cheered up, I invited him to nurse, and he flat out refused. No way was he going to nurse from me while I had wires sticking out of my chest. I offered to pump for him so he could take home some Mama’s milk, and he liked that idea. He held the little bottle of milk like it was a special treasure. And then, oh-so-sadly, he left.

I was finally alone, and decided to watch the FoodMatters documentary I had brought with me. Just then, my sister started texting me! And when she was done, Cassie started again, but I told her I wanted to watch my documentary, lol. I had expected to get lonely in the hospital, but I never got the chance. It’s nice to have support like that.

I think I would have slept all the way through the night if it weren’t for the blood pressure cuff going off every four hours, or the LOUD BEEPING that thoroughly woke me up at five o’clock in the morning. I paged the nurse and told her I had to pee. It was so funny how happy they were every time I told them that. I remember when I had to do a 24-hour monitoring at the hospital when I was pregnant with my son and I would hold my pee as long as possible because I felt like I was bothering the nurses. Not this time! But then after I went, she decided to draw my blood. After fiddling with my IV till I was sore, she decided to stick me in the other arm, and that really hurt. I was pretty grumpy by the time I got to lie down again. I accepted the pain med she offered so just I could get back to sleep as soon as possible.

The next morning, hubby came and got me. My labs checked out okay, and everything looked good, so they discharged me. When I got home, my sweet little boy was beyond excited to see me after having spent his first night away from me (during which husband says he woke about six times and kept asking for me). And this post is getting really long, so I will save the hospital aftermath for another post. But just wanted you all to know–I’m still alive.

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