Facing My Fear: Getting A Bone Marrow Biopsy

[This is a back-dated post from before I launched my blog]

I hate needles. Have I told you this already? Because I think I need to make myself clear. Not just hate, but have a genuine, panic-inducing phobia of them. I once underwent an entire tooth filling without anaesthetic because I simply couldn’t face the though of having an injection in my mouth. I turned down anti-sickness injections when I had serious food poisoning, preferring to risk dehydration. It’s really that bad.

Whenever I have had to have an injection, I’ve tried to rationalise my fear by telling myself  “it could be so much worse – sure, the ‘flu jab is scary, but it’s not like it’s a bone marrow biopsy or anything“. The idea of that particular procedure terrified me so much that everything else paled in comparison, and I was just glad I never had to face it.

Until I did have to face it.

Yesterday, in fact.

giphy

My Experience of a Bone Marrow Biopsy

Firstly, and thankfully, I’d somewhat prepared for the whole ordeal and been in contact with my very lovely GP who had prescribed me a healthy dose of Diazepam to soothe my nerves. It definitely helped, so if you’re worried about this sort of thing I recommend contacting your doctor in advance.

I also brought along my parents, because I felt having support there on the day was really important. I knew I’d be petrified, and in no fit state to take note of any important information such as aftercare.

My procedure involved two bone marrow biopsies, both taken from my right hip. These were:

  • a bone marrow aspirate, which takes a little of the liquid found in the bone marrow space and
  • a bone marrow trephine, which takes a small sample of harder bone marrow tissue.

The good news? The procedure itself was, I have to admit, far less traumatic than I’d built it up in my head to be. I promise you.

In fact, the most conventionally painful part of the whole thing was having the local anaesthetic, which stung quite a bit. After that, when I felt anything at all other than pressure, it was a deep, dull ache kind of like a period pain in my bones. The weirdest feeling was when they actually withdrew the bone marrow itself – I could have sworn I had Rice Crispies crackling inside me! Not at all unpleasant, but definitely unlike anything ever experienced before.

The BEST part of the procedure (if I can say that), was the staff. Big shout out to Dr Gill and my nurse specialist Theresa, who were not only total professionals but also had me laughing and relaxing throughout the whole thing.

The whole thing was over in about 30 minutes (including time for bloods to be taken), and once my wound was dressed I was sent on my way. It didn’t even ache post-procedure – I’d have pretty much forgotten about it if it weren’t for the fact that I wasn’t allowed to shower/bathe for 24 hours afterwards.

Of course, I asked my Mum to take pictures (whilst my lovely Dad did his best to keep me distracted!). Avert your eyes now if you’re particularly squeamish about needles or love handles (sorry!).

 

All in all, it’s definitely not how I’d choose to spend an afternoon. But as someone who held bone marrow biopsies on a pedestal of ultimate horror, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they really aren’t that dreadful, and I wouldn’t freak out if I had to have another one.

If you or someone you know is going for the procedure, do take a look at this highly informative guide by Lymphoma Action. It’s far more scientific than my blogging and there are definitely no cringy love handles in sight!

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