Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sure Beats a Transjugular Liver Biopsy

I have the dubious honor of having had five pieces of my liver removed through my neck.  While wide awake.

See, when your abdomen is so bloated with hemorrhaged blood and other biological gunk that it’s impossible to perform a liver biopsy directly through the belly, the docs take a detour. Through the neck.  Using the jugular vein as the pathway, they thread a tiny cutting device down to the liver. Then snip, snip, snip—five angel-hair-pasta-sized pieces of liver are pulled out of your body.  Through your neck. And to answer your question: yes, it hurts. Considerably.

But there’s a bright side to having had a transjugular liver biopsy. That jerk who cut you off on the freeway?  Suddenly, his rude actions seem less, well, jerky. The shirt the drycleaner ruined?  No big shakes. By comparison, there simply aren’t that many things that can top a transjugular liver biopsy in terms of ruining your day. So after my six-week stay in the intensive care unit back in 2000, “sure beats a transjugular liver biopsy” became my new philosophy when things didn’t go quite as planned. But all good philosophies must be put to the test.

Several years ago, after a couple of really great days speaking at various Community Blood Center events in Dayton, I found myself running through the airport to catch my flight. It was the last one of the day and I was headed to meet my husband and daughter for a family get-away.  We had even synched our respective flights to arrive at our destination within the same hour. Breathless, I made it to the airport ticket counter only to learn that they had given away my seat even though it was still half an hour before take-off. 

I argued, I pleaded, and then—I cried. Not that crazy thrashing about sort of crying made popular by the woman in the YouTube video (you know the one).  Just a few quiet tears of sadness and resignation that I discreetly wiped away. And then it happened. I heard that small still voice within—you know, the annoying one that insists on shoving its two-bit wisdom at you when you least want it.  In a whimsical voice, it said: Sure beats a transjugular liver biopsy!

At that point, I actually began laughing.  Right there at the ticket counter.  I’m certain the woman helping me thought I’d lost my marbles.  When she handed me my new boarding pass for a flight the next day, I thanked her profusely and walked to the hotel information kiosk to secure a room for the night. I started to think of how nice it would actually be to curl up in bed, order a pizza, and watch a movie. Just as I fully accepted my fate of another night away from family, my cell phone rang. 

It was one of my new friends from CBC calling to make sure I’d made my flight.  When I told her “no,” she apologized and we said good-bye.  But two minutes later she called back to ask if I knew that the city I was scheduled to meet my husband in was less than a four-hour drive away. No, I didn’t—and I love to drive!

Twenty minutes later, I was behind the wheel of a luxury sedan equipped with satellite radio, bottled water, and a bag of Doritos. With Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor as my road trip companions, I spent four glorious hours driving and singing all of my favorite ‘70s disco tunes at full volume. It wasn’t what I’d planned, but it sure did beat a transjugular liver biopsy.

Go ahead: steal my philosophy.  You know you want to.  And you’ll be glad you did.

Download a PDF of the first 4 chapters of Lauren's memoir, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances, FREE here.  Click on the link below the green "Buy the Book" button.  Happy reading!  

1 comment:

  1. After reading your posting about your trans-jugular liver biopsy, I had a few trepidations about undergoing this procedure myself. I had it done this Monday, and am happy to report that the only pain I had was a slight stinging when they numbed the spot on my neck, and very mild pressure when they did the actual biopsy. Am so so sorry to hear that you had to endure such pain, but wanted others to know that your experience isn't always the case. Am glad to see you are using it to put a positive spin on other incidents in your life. An experience like yours surely does put everything into perspective!