Biopsy: n, An examination of tissue removed from a living body to discover the presence, cause, or extent of a disease.
Whether you've had a biopsy or not, you probably know that to biopsy (verb) tissue, you have to remove it from a living body. And that is almost never fun. I've had a few. Some worse than others. Here's the rundown, in order from least to most difficult.
Skin biopsy (2011)- There's this thing that happens to my foot, which I'll tell you more about later in the month. The main thing to know right now is that the doctors are stumped as to what causes it. The last thing we did was a biopsy, which told them what it isn't, but not what it is. The area in question is the instep of my right foot. Big needle into highly inflamed, painful area. Stick, burn, need-my-deep-breathing pain. But after that it was really fascinating. They did what's called a punch biopsy, where they cut out a piece of flesh the size and shape of a pencil eraser, with a circular blade they just pressed into my skin. It was fun to watch since I couldn't feel it. I thought about posting the gross picture... but I'll spare you.
Breast lump biopsy (2006?)- After a mammogram (owwwch), and an ultrasound showed a suspicious lump in my breast a few years ago, I had to have what they call a core biopsy. They take several samples from the lump using hollow needles. I was numb for that too, though I can't remember how I got that way. This was worse than the skin biopsy because, one, location. And, two, the amount of pressure they had to put on that needle to get it into my breast - yawza! It didn't hurt, but it was extremely disconcerting feeling like they were going to go right through the other side! That biopsy showed benign cells, but after the lump continued to grow and change, I had to have it fully removed and biopsied again, just to be sure.
Bone marrow biopsy (2001)- Here's the absolute honest truth: I would rather have a baby with no drugs than ever have another bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. Oh. My. Gosh. It's been over 10 years, and the place where they did it (iliac crest) still aches sometimes. During my pregnancy with my son, my platelets, white cells, and hemoglobin counts kept dropping. I was hospitalized to find out why... thus the biopsy to check for Leukemia. It hurt like hell and I didn't have any family or friends there to comfort me. But the Lord was there. And, despite the pain, I was able to stay calm enough to warrant compliments from the doctors and all the onlookers (teaching hospital). I did not have Leukemia... more on that later.
Brain tumor biopsy (2004)- Ok, so I really considered placing this before the bone marrow biopsy on the scale of difficulty. I was asleep, after all. But they did cut pieces out of my skull and 1st and 2nd cervical vertebrae... and slice into my brain...and remove tissue very close to my brain stem. The recovery from that surgery was horrific. So, I don't know why I feel like the bone marrow biopsy was worse. They did get almost all the tumor. I did not have brain cancer... you guessed it, more on that later!
I also had biopsies done on a colon polyp and tissue from the lining of my bladder. But both of those were secondary to other procedures and so they don't really count, right?
Every biopsy brings a level of upheaval as life seems suspended, waiting for the results. Do I make those long-term plans, or don't I? What if the biopsy brings bad news? How can I wait so long to find out? In those moments when the unknown surrounds me, giving me nothing tangible to hold on to, I always find God ready to support me. He will not be surprised by the results. He has already written this scene.