Let Them Learn….maybe?

An interesting thing happened today.

First, I learned that my math skills are rusty. From the beginning, the doctors told me I’d get another bone marrow biopsy on Day 14. Sure, fine, no problem. I thought Day 14 would fall exactly 2 weeks from the start of treatment. I started treatment on Thursday, June 7th. I was wrong – my biopsy was not to fall tomorrow, the 21st, it was today, this morning, right now, get out of the shower let’s go.

Ok, fine, my mind can deal with that, no big deal.

Second, after everything got set up, they cleaned the site, put down the coverings, blah blah blah. Needle about to go in, and I can kind of sense some hesitance in the woman performing the procedure. There’s another doctor on the other side of the bed, who I initially thought was the subordinate (due to how my previous two biopsies, the person performing the biopsy was actually the main doctor in charge and what not).

As the biopsy continued, she was hesitant, checked in with the other doctor, and was being double checked each time she did something. Also, despite telling her “hey lady, I have ridiculously hard bones”, and when she drilled in for like 4 seconds and was like “Ok, I think I’m in” and I was like “hahahahahahahahaha you’re cute” (I said it in a nicer way, but that was the implication)..I started to get the distinct impression that I was the subject of a lesson.

When I told my mom and my sister, they both freaked out, basically saying “NOT ON MY (BROTHER/SON)!” That’s been the reaction of most people.

But…if nobody wants to have someone who is learning…how do those folk learn? As I’ve said from the beginning, I feel that if someone can benefit from my suffering, I’m for it. I mean, I have to suffer anyways. If I say no, I’m still getting a biopsy. If I say no to the additional screenings and such, I’m still getting chemo. I’ve still got a bunch of months of “not fun” ahead of me.

So really, what’s the harm? Today, someone got to learn on an anomaly case. Most leukemia patients are old, so the biopsy is easy and takes two seconds. I’m a 27 year old athlete with a history of contact sports. My bones are hard, take a long time to get through (as in, 2 people alternating back and forth to give each other a rest), and generally just more *difficult* than other biopsies. Plus, I have a pretty large tolerance for pain, so really, where’s the harm?

Granted, today, I’m feeling pretty good. No symptoms other than the stupid right eye decided it wanted to block a tear duct and give me a sty. I just got blood, so no annoying stuff from anemia. I might change my mind down the road, during other rounds of chemo, when I feel crappy and just want the biopsy to be quick and easy.

But I think you have to ask yourself, especially when you’re at an awesome teaching hospital like NY Presbyterian; how did those awesome doctors treating you today get to be awesome? At some point, they were the hesitant, nervous, newbies performing procedures on people that really would haveĀ preferred a pro. Put in your dues, is my thought. Let at least one person learn on you.


Though, obviously, pick your battles. If you’re getting simple stuff, that’s the time to say “ok, sure”. If there are significant risks involved – that’s when you might wanna insist on a pro.

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