J: No. 2 biopsy completed – results next week. AND 5th of May is nephrectomy day!

I had my second lung biopsy today.

It was carried out by a different radiologist, Dr. Hudson. After putting me through the CT scanner he spent some time reviewing the options then decided to go in through the side, rather than the back. So I lay on my right side while he applied local anaesthetic and then the sampling needles to my left lung. There was less to-ing and fro-ing in the scanner than before – not sure why.

I had not realised quite how tricky this job is. He has to take the samples from the nodules on the pleura – the lining between the lungs and the ribs. It is thin. If the pleura is punctured then you can get problems. I asked “how much tolerance is there? A couple of mm?” to which he replied quietly “Rather less than that.” I had a look at the screen afterwards and he pointed to a tiny grey streak which apparently indicates a tumour area. I could barely see it.

So it’s a delicate job but he seemed expert. He said “I like to take as much time as I need to plan… and then execute it quite quickly”. That has pretty much been my approach to things, so I liked the sound of it and his actions echoed his words.

It was quite painless, as before, but I could feel him pushing quite hard to get through the outer layers. In fact he commented on this and asked for an alternative tool to make it easier.

Later in the ward I overheard another patient, who had been with us in the waiting room, discussing how her lung biopsy had been aborted. She went as far as being taken down and prepared for the procedure only for them to discover they did not have some tool needed. With that sense of pointless guilt with which we Christian-educated folk can rush to drape ourselves, I wondered if they’d used up her tool on me! The poor woman was understandably quite upset, especially as she has been in considerable pain from her condition.

Dr. Hudson took only two samples (three last time) but said he was reasonably confident he had got useful material, so fingers crossed!

I had some of the same lovely nurses as last time. I am constantly impressed by how good the staff are at Bath. For example 4 hours after your biopsy you have to have an X-ray to check that the lung is looking OK. There were no porters about to wheel me back to the short-stay ward so the nurses just did it themselves. Good for them; they did not have to, but it is the sort of kind patient-focused gesture I have seen many times.

On Tuesday I have an appointment with Dr. Walters, the lung specialist, when I will presumably learn about the results of this biopsy and what treatments may be considered.

On the kidney side, tomorrow I have my pre-op assessment for my nephrectomy (kidney removal) and on Monday I see the surgeon and consultant Simon Evans. I also have a date for the operation of 5th May at Bath, so that is great news. It may of course be cancelled but they do prioritise cancer ops, so we can be reasonably confident of the date.

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