Piia Pauliina
  • Penny Brohn and the Biopsy

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    October 9th, 2010

    It is Saturday morning and I am in my own bed! I was discharged from the Royal Marsden yesterday. What a relief. I do not sleep well in hospitals, and managed to get a decent night of sleep at home last night.

    Two days in Penny Brohn did exactly what I hoped it would do. I managed to get back into mediation, and quiet my mind a little and reconnect with myself again. I was inspired by food, and I am going to eat more vegetables from now on. As I was looked after and cooked for, it felt like a proper break from everything, and allowed me to fully relax for two days. My mind and spirit were uplifted by the lovely walks in the picturesque countryside and by talking to brave and kind people who are going through their cancer journeys. I even saw a 500-year old tree. 500 years! That is a long time. I had to give this old tree a little hug. I love the nature, and really miss open plan places and proper greenery in London. I felt so sad as I arrived in Paddington after my two days in the Penny Brohn haven. I had to go straight into a fully crowded tube. I felt like I could not breath. I do sometimes wonder what an earth am I doing here!?

    As I got home, I had a little parcel waiting for me. My dear friend, and an old (original) Dream Housemate had sent me bunch of pink roses! She had sent them on Wednesday, so the poor roses were very thirsty by the time I got home on Thursday evening. They are still alive though!

    I woke up feeling horribly grumpy yesterday morning. It was a combination of hardly any sleep and not being allowed to drink or eat before this biopsy I was going for. I had to leave my house before 7am. London was covered in thick fog. It conveniently echoed the state of my mind.

    The CT-guided biopsy procedure went something like this. I was be lying on the slide that goes in and out of the ‘donut’ of the CT machine. They, the radiologist and a consultant ‘mapped’ the exact area where the biopsy needle needed to go in by the several CT images. Once they were happy where the area was, they then marked it with some special pen. I was surrounded by several people, although I did not see any of them as I was lying facing the CT device and had my arms uncomfortably above my head. My job was to lie still and to take deep breaths in and hold it as long I was told to (this was not for very long, maybe a couple of seconds). The important thing was for me to take the exact same deep breath each time, as when you breath in the rib cage moves. If my breath was different, the site of the biopsy would have changed. Before they began the actual procedure, the area of the chest was numbed by local anaesthetics. I was awake and alert throughout process. I was not painful, just very uncomfortable.

    Afterwards, I was moved to lie flat on a bed. As I was waiting in the corridor outside the CT scan room for the porters to take me into the ward to recover, I saw the doctor that had been looking after me in Sutton when I was having my stem cell transplant. She asked what I was doing in the hospital. I explained her my PET scan results and the need for the biopsy. Something about the way she looked at me, maybe the sadness in her eyes, made me really upset. I could feel how upset we both were that the transplant had not worked like we had hope to. She was there every step of the way during the transplant and saw exactly what I went through. She knew. The porters came and our conversation was cut short. My doctor went on her way and I was pushed in my bed towards the ward. I could not stop crying all the way into the ward.

    Two hours post the biopsy they took a chest X-ray to check that I had not developed a collapsed lung. Apparently, there is a very small, about 10% risk of puncturing the lung during this process. The lovely (young) doctor that had mostly done the procedure came to see me personally to tell me the outcome of the X-ray. My lungs were fine, and I should be able to go home if I was still well in a couple of hours. All I could think, you have really lovely eyes… He was a very lovely doctor….

    After the X-ray, I was finally allowed to eat! Boy, I was hungry. Minna came to visit me later in the afternoon and brought me drinks and a salad from Prêt a Manger. We chatted, I ate and before I knew, I was told I could go home. I was at home by 8.30pm. I had a lovely drive to home in a taxi through London. The south embankment by Thames was all lit with special lights and looked almost magical.

    I am happy to be at home, in my Dream House. And the weather forecast for this weekend is sunshine and 20 degrees of Celsius. In October?! I am going to see the lovely Steph tonight. She is hosting a little flat warming soiree at her, well not so new pad anymore. London feels good again. And so do I.

    The view I had as went for a walk in the countryside near Penny Brohn on Wednesday afternoon.

    The view from Penny Brohn gardens on Thursday morning.

    The roses that Steph sent me.

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