Is that bone?
It’s Thursday, 16 May, 2019. Today was my initiation into the world of the bone marrow biopsy. I was nervous as hell. And I did what you should never do. I watched the procedure on YouTube last night. OMG! They basically take this big corkscrew and twist it into your hip, and come out with bone and marrow and blood and… My advice? Stay away from YouTube when you’re going to have a creepy medical procedure. Actually, it looked worse on YouTube than it really was. I mean, I guess. I didn’t actually SEE it. I just sort of felt it. Or, I didn’t feel it. The area was numb. I mean, now that I think about it, I can’t swear they actually even did anything. I guess they did. It would be a cruel joke otherwise. But my dad was there, in the room, and he personally watched the whole procedure. In fact, he started to give a play-by-play.
They have you lay on your belly on an examining table. No kidding. They just do it right there in one of those examining rooms. You drop your pants. They give you a couple of quick injections to numb the site and you’re off to the races. I was trying not to focus on the procedure, when my dad asked, “Is that bone?” What? Did he really just ask that? “Yes,” replied one of the technicians conducting the procedure. “Please don’t do that,” I said. I was trying to think about more pleasant things, like, virtually anything else. I didn’t want to imagine what was going on behind my back. Literally, right behind my back.
Anyway, it was all over pretty quick. Thank god. But I learned with great joy that this wouldn’t be my only biopsy. I guess I was naive but I sort of assumed that you do it once, and that’s it. No. It’s bone marrow cancer, you moron. They will occasionally need, you know, bone marrow, to measure platelets and blood cells, and I don’t know what else. One of the technicians said she recently had a myeloma patient who was on his way to play golf and just stopped in for the procedure on his way to the golf course. Now that’s a myeloma warrior!
Myeloma patients. People with myeloma. This is a cancer that never goes away. Once you become a myeloma patient, you’re always a myeloma patient. Shouldn’t there be a better term for myeloma patients than, myeloma patients?
How about Myelomans? Myelomanaires? Myelomites? Maybe, People living with myeloma? Myeloman Americans?
Myelomans. Yes. They are myelomans. It sounds braver, more representative of the permanent status, than “patients.” Patients are sick. Myelomans are living. Living with cancer.
I learned that Tom Brokaw has myeloma. I was surprised to hear that. And oddly comforted by it. They say five years in the average survival rate. It’s been like four years for him. He’s written about it. And articles have been written about him. If Tom Brokaw can get myeloma, anyone can. And if he’s living with it, anyone can. He takes 20+ pills a day. He’s had surgeries. He’s come close to death. But there he is, still alive and fighting. A true myeloman. The average age of people diagnosed with myeloma is 70. Tom Brokaw is in his 70s. Actor Roy Schneider died of myeloma at 75. Sam Walton, Mr. Walmart, at 74. Jim Davis, from that old television show “Dallas” died of myeloma at 71. Peter Boyle, the dad on “Everybody Loves Raymond” at 71. Remember Geraldine Ferraro? First female vice presidential candidate. She died of myeloma at 76. I’m 60. I wonder if I will be in my 70s when it becomes malignant. Or, is it malignant already? Maybe. Or maybe next year. Maybe never? I like never. Never is good. Or maybe now.