After the doctors become suspicious that there is evidence of leukaemia in the blood, they need to do a bone marrow biopsy to check, as this will confirm their diagnosis. They also perform a lumbar puncture in order to check the spinal fluid to see whether the leukaemia has hidden there too.
Leukaemia is a sneaky bugger. It likes blood and bones, it likes spinal fluid and hiding around the brain, and it likes testicles. This is why boys have to have an extra year of treatment, to make sure it hasn't secreted itself in those instead. For girls, treatment is just over two years; for boys it is just over three. It is hoped that the patient goes into remission after the first month (induction phase) of treatment. The rest of the time is spent keeping the leukaemia away. Without this treatment, it would come back. It is sneaky AND persistent.
Anyway, these procedures are automatically done under a general anesthetic. This is good. I remember seeing Izzy wince in discomfort on Grey's when she had to have a bone marrow biopsy (which, lets face it, means it is considerably worse in real life). I didn't want my daughter to have to have needles in her bone and spine without being asleep.
However, the first time they go under, it is an emotional affair. At least one parent, if not two (depending on where the procedure takes place; they are more strict in theatre, but the clinic has its own anesthetic room as the procedures are such a regular part of cancer care) can go in. The first time they go to sleep, it is very hard to see. My daughter was 12 and is adult-sized, and it was awful. I can only imagine how tough it must be to see a baby or a tot put under. Thankfully, the anesthetists are very kind. We always get to give her a kiss before we go out and let them get on with it.
General anesthetic can be done by gas, or by what they call 'magic milk' which is injected directly into a line. My daughter LOVES gas. Many of them do. It essentially makes them drunk. Occasionally, they can suffer the hangover too; she has been sick once after anesthetic.
Having anesthetic becomes a very regular thing. She's had loads this year; I've lost count. I would guess at a couple of dozen or more. She will continue to have them as she continues to need regular lumbar punctures and bone marrow checks. Part of the lumbar puncture procedure is injecting intrathecal chemo into her spinal fluid; this is to keep the leukaemia out of there.
I don't want to diminish the difficult side of seeing your child put under, but it can be comical at times too. On one of the first occasions, daughter woke up and told her Dad off because he'd been stealing all of her banana pies! Once, under a sedative for having a cannula, she had a lovely conversation with a Lurpak advert on the television. She loves it when we recount these things to her later; she has a good giggle at herself!