Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The MRI Biopsy

January 14, 2009

Wow, just when you think that it can't get any worse, just when you think the hard part is behind you... You get a MRI biopsy. AARRGHHHH!!!!

I met my husband at 10:30am and dropped off my car in an overnight parking lot (I was going to take the Valium and didn't know how I would react to it and we didn't want me driving). We got the Radiologist's office at 11:15 and filled out another set of paper work. I wasn't feeling any effects from the Valium I took a half hour before, so I took one more. When they called my name, I kissed my hubby, then took my purse and Jordan into the back.

I knew the drill. I took off my jewelry, took off my bra and shirt, put on the gown, I got to leave my pants on cause I wore a pair of pants with no metal zippers or grommets (also known as "sweats"), and locked my purse in the locker. Unfortunately, we were not sure if Jordan's had any metal in him (probably does) so he had to go into the locker as well. I went to the bathroom and then found my chair to get my IV. A very nice nurse/tech came in and gave me a briefing of what was going to happen today. She brought another nurse in named, Briana to give me my IV. I showed her my bruise from the week before and told her that Rianna told me (the tech from last week) that the veins in my arms were superficial and to go for the wrist. She obliged me. When she stuck the IV, I swear she must have hit a bone or gone right through my wrist joint. OH MY GOD IT BURNED!!! I started to cry and had to bring my feet up into stomach in the chair. She kept apologizing and took it out. Then she tried the vein in my arm and found it fine. She kept apologizing the whole time (little did I know that I would here "I'm sorry" for the whole day).

Briana took me to the MRI room and they explained the procedure again, she explained that they were not going to be able to give me the headphones to wear this time and inserted foam earplugs in my ears. I asked if the procedure and needle would be the same as the one used during my ultrasound biopsy. She said close, that they were going to vacuum to get the specimens out and there wouldn't be such a loud clicking sound. Cool, I thought. Then she told me to please lie on the board face down. When I looked into the holes that my breast were to go into, on the right side there was a plastic clamp. This looked like a clamp that you would find on a hardware bench! I put my right breast in there and they started to clamp it up, hard. I thought that if they tightened anymore, I was sure that I wouldn't be able to feel the pain of the needles cause I was in so much pain already (unfortunately, I was wrong). After tightening the clamp (they refer to them as "paddles"), I was pushed into the MRI machine. They did a few sequences and then injected the Gadolinium (contrast). They did a few more sequences. The Radiologist told me there were two reasons for this; first, it was to ensure the lesions were still there and it wasn't just a fluke or hormonal tissue that went away, and second, to graph exactly where they needed to put the needle so they could get the sample. After the sequences, I was pulled out of the MRI machine. When the Radiologist came back in, I asked if it had went away and I can go home... No such luck. We were going to have to do two biopsies to get both ends of the linear line of lesions.

She stuck a vitamin E capsule on the outside of the outer "paddle". I was told the paddle had a graph on it, so it could pinpoint the exact location of the mass (lesion/nass - I will use these words interchangeably). They pushed me back in the MRI machine. Now, while this is all going on, I was not allowed to do anything other than breathe. If I was to move the slightest inch, it would throw off the measurements and the needle would be placed in the wrong location (no pressure now). After the doctor was satisfied where the capsule was, I was pulled out of the MRI and the procedure began.

I had my arms up over my head and they were freezing, I had my head turned to the left, laying on my right ear. I couldn't hear anything from the other side, and this was where the Radiologist was. I kept asking the nurses what was going on. I was told that I would feel a pinch... "AAAAAAAA!!!" I called out, it burned. I don't think she did any skin numbing first like the other radiologist. She didn't stop, she kept saying,"You're doing good Laurie, almost done, almost done." I started crying, my breathing became erratic. The Tech and Briana came to my left side and started rubbing me. Someone was rubbing my back and someone was rubbing my butt.

"You will be okay."
"You are doing so good."
These two phrases became their mantras.

I was clutching the bed and my upper body was shaking. Finally the "pinching" and the burning subsided and I let go of the bed. I felt pressure of something jolting into my breast. My god! "What was that?" I called out. "It's okay," the Dr. told me, "it's the needle. It's almost there." That was A LOT of pressure, not so much pain. Then with the needle (which turned out being a 9 gauge 8 inch long needle, with a big round plastic holder, also about 8 inches long as well)hanging out of my breast, I was pushed into the MRI machine so that the Radiologist could see if she placed the needle in the right place. So I laid in there another few minutes. I was pulled out of the MRi machine and she said it was perfect (thank god!!) and then I heard this drilling sound.
"What is that?" I asked.
"Oh didn't we tell you that we were dentists on the side? It is the vacuum."
That is exactly what it sounded like. The drill at a dentist office.

After about 6-7 drills, they inserted the titanium clip and rolled me back in the MRI machine to start the other biopsy. When I came out, the Radiologist started to do the anacain again. This biopsy had to be very close the the chest, cause I started screaming when she started inserting the needle for the lanacain. "Oh Jesus." I cried and started shaking. "I'm putting in more lanacain, Laurie" The Dr. told me. It wasn't helping, my body was completely rigid, my upper body was shaking uncontrollably. The two women were once again rubbing on me. I kept thinking, when was the Valium suppose to kick in and put me out? Before I had a chance to calm down from the needles (or as far as I was concerned get numb enough) WHAM!!!! The big needle went in. I screamed!!!
"I'm so sorry!"
"It's almost done!"
"You are doing so good!"
I was pushed back into the MRI machine, once again with a HUGE needle hanging out of my breast for confirmation and it was in the right spot. Thank god it was. This time though, I could feel the pressure of the vacuum tear each piece out of my breast. Thank god it didn't hurt at that point, just pressure.
"You are doing so good." Briana said again.
"If I'm doing good," I said through sniffles,"I would hate to see your crappy patients."
"You would be surprised." She told me.
After the vacuuming was done, I was sent back through the MRI one more time to make sure that they got the right specimens. They had.

When I was rolled out of the MRI machine, the first nurse unclamped my breast and began pushing against my breast really hard. It hurt more than the clamp! She explained that she needed to put pressure against the opening to stop the bleeding. My Lord, how much blood could there be, that you are insisting to beat up my breast? After about 15 minutes, they let me sit up and I was finally able to take my face off the snotty pillow. But my breast stuck to the paddle on the inside and it caused me to start bleeding again when I pulled it out. So another 5 minutes until I was able to get off the table.

When I looked at the table, there was blood all over the clamp, and then I looked at the ground. There was bright read blood everywhere! On the bed, all over the ground.
"I guess it is good that no one fained this time." I said, halfway to myself.
"What?" Briana asked me.
"My Midwife came with me to my ultrasound and Dr. H made her lay down cause she just about passed out."
"Oh my gosh, I heard about that!! That is hilarious! That was you! They didn't tell me who it was just a midwife had to lay down on the floor during a biopsy, and Dr. H won't allow anymore Midwives in the room." Briana was cracking up.
"Yup, that was me." It was nice to know that my midwife and I were infamous.

I was brought back to the IV chair and Briana took out my IV. Then got me some crackers and cranberry juice to help stop my shaking. The strong nurse was still pressing on my breast this time trying to make it bleed so there wouldn't be any bruising?? That still doesn't make sense to me. But after the bleeding stopped, I had to have another mammogram done to ensure the clips were where they needed to me. So I walked to the mammogram room and once again thought, thank goodness I was still so numb and couldn't feel the squeeze.

After that was over, the nurses wanted to bandage my breast and I told them that I was allergic and they would have to use the beige tape. Jthat tape didn't seem to bother me as much. They said that they would Derma-bond it. No, I said the beige tape is fine. "No," Briana told me, "you know how you asked if the needle was bigger and I said it was about the same? Well I didn't want to tell you how big it was and scare you." This is when I found out that the needle was a 9 gauge needle and I asked to see it. It had a tip on it like an arrow. So they didn't slice my skin like my other biopsy, they just shoved it through. So I need the Derma-bond cause the puncture holes were too big for the beige tape. Briana put on two layers, gave me some (a lot) of ice-packs. I got dressed and once again asked if the results would make it to Dr. A (the surgeon) before Friday (this was very important if I was going to keep my appointment). I left and met my husband in the waiting room. I told them that they were all very nice, and please don't misunderstand this but I NEVER WANTED TO SEE ANY OF THEM AGAIN!!


  1. That sounds absolutely AWFUL, LJ. Beyond awful. When you said the words MRI biopsy, it sounded like it might somehow be a little less traumatic than the needle biopsy. I was way off. ((hugs))

  2. Seems like there could be a better way. I mean I was knocked out just to get wisdom teeth pulled. I think some of them sound a little "routine" about the whole thing. You're not a number, you're a human being-mama/wife. Sure it could be a coping mechanism, but they are in health care by choice.

    sorry, I know this is an old post... but you write so well and it feels... that's it.. it FEELS.