Yesterday (Tuesday) I had to be in Pittsburgh at UPMC for a liver biopsy at 6 AM.

First they do some prep work of taking a blood sample to check clotting times so they know you won’t bleed out, take blood pressure to make sure the system isn’t under stress, and then insert a tube in your arm so in case you are the 1 in a 1000 that springs a leak (all circulating blood goes through the liver) they are ready to pump in whatever it would be they would need to pump in.

Then one gets the privilege of laying around waiting for the blood work results to come back before being wheeled into the biopsy room.  I was recognized because I had just been there last January for a routine biopsy so it was a lot of the same personnel. Part of my deflection process for getting through procedures is to chat up the doctors et al doing the procedure as it takes my mind off what is going on.   Maybe I am thinking if they make a personal connection they will do a more conscious job, but the point is I get to know them as people also.

This biopsy wasn’t routine but a response to a steady rise in  my liver enzymes which if my bilirubin levels had gone up would have been a clear sign of rejection but as it hadn’t it is ambiguous and could be other causes but the only way to know for sure was another liver biopsy.  Rejection means the liver is being attacked by the immune system and will fail. Failing liver means a whole body transplant.

The biopsy itself isn’t that big a deal. They do an ultrasound to check out for a good spot, then a huge needle to push in some lidocaine to deaden the area, couple of shots of that, then more ultrasound.  They place this gadget next to your skin, have you hold your breath and pull a trigger that activates a needle that goes in and takes a core sample.

They got a good sample so only needed to do it once and I was in and out of the biopsy room in under 15 minutes.

Then back to a room where you have to lay around for 4 hours in case you spring a leak, monitored by blood pressure readings every 30 minutes.

You aren’t allowed to drive for 24 hours so Tulasi came along as my caregiver. Afterwards we went to Penn Mac to buy some olives and various delicious foodstuffs. While we were there they were boarding up the windows in case the protests for the G 20 conference that will be held in Pittsburgh this week get out of hand and turn into rioting.

On our way out of Pittsburgh we saw a few hundred protesters by the Convention Center with signs indicating displeasure with the G 20 leadership for broken promises on AIDS treatment.

Avoiding Pittsburgh this Thursday and Friday is advised. There will be “no vehicle” zones established and some bridges shut down. That might pertain to the weekend also.

Tulasi worked his way through the maze of buildings that constitute UPMC and got me a release form to sign so they will mail me the results of the biopsy, nothing to do  but wait and see now. I will probably get that next week.

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