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The Port

Just got home from the hospital. Had the port put in. It took a lot longer than I expected. When I had asked, they told me the procedure takes less than 90 minutes and that's true but what they didn't include in that figure is the time it takes to register (twice), time for medical history, wait time, and recovery time. All in all, it took 3.75 hours from the time Chris dropped us off (Mom stayed with me) until the time he picked us up.

First we had to sign in at admissions where they copied my insurance card (that info should just be tattooed across my forehead by now), my driver's license and the prescription for the procedure. Then we waited for an administrator to call us into registration where she copied my insurance card, driver's license and prescription and had me sign my life away (seriously - you basically have no rights if you want them to work on you it seems). Then she sent us off to Radiology, where we waited to register again, where they took my prescription and had me fill out a form about my medication and allergies (I can't remember if they copied my insurance and driver's license again), and we waited for about five minutes.

Finally, at about 11:25 (we had arrived at 10:45 for an 11:00 appointment), the person who registered me with radiology walked me into the back, basically into a room with four or five beds and a desk (aka nurse's station). Mom didn't come with me. I had to change into a gown (tied in back), and sat there while one of the nurses (very sweet, very talkative, which was good and distracting) took my medical history down (you'd think they'd have this all from three weeks ago when I had the lumpectomy). No heated blankets here though, and I got cold. She was good though, making sure everyone knew that everything (IVs, blood pressure, even the port), had to be done on my left side (when you have lymph nodes removed on a side, you shouldn't have anything done on that arm again - well, at least for a good long while).

A resident came in and went over the procedure with me and had me sign more forms. Finally, after Noon (I think it was like 12:15), the nurse wheeled me into the OR (I went from my bed, to the OR table - no walking this time). She started to prep me, while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive (normally she wouldn't do this but they were running late and she didn't want to keep me waiting - I said, very sweet). Once they arrived, Donna took over and Brian (I think - he had a Giants scrub hat on), and things moved quickly. They asked me what type of music I would like (anything but country - so we listened to the Blues Brothers soundtrack), doped me up with a sedative, the doctor arrived, draped me, and the procedure went off. There was a lot of poking and pinching but really, the worst part was when they ripped the drapes off and the tape at the end. Donna stayed by my side pretty much throughout, so whenever I opened my eyes, we chatted.

By about 1:45 or so, they wheeled me back into recovery, and let my Mom come in (normally they wouldn't do that but no one was there but me) - recovery was really the staging room in which I started. Donna monitored me for a little while, then warmed my lunch (mac and cheese with some steamed veggies), then she headed off to another procedure.

port2.jpg

The other nurse returned, helped me dress and by 2:20, I was allowed to walk out of there to wait for Chris at the entrance (normally they'd want to wheel chair me, but I told them I could walk, so they let me go).

Now a couple of things to note, I've got this derma-plast stuff (think super glue for skin), so no shower for 24 hours. Plus nothing rubbing against it for a few weeks (no bra, seat belt, I have to wear some sort of pad over it to protect it from those things). The port is under the skin - it's not like a little knob above or anything, and from it, there's some sort of tube that runs to a vein/artery (I get them confused) in my neck. So my neck is a bit stiff as the pain meds run out. They didn't give me anything for it - told me to just take Tylenol. I'm waiting for it to kick in. This will save the veins in my arms though as I won't need to take any meds or give any blood through there - a good thing since they're already bruised and shot. No walking on the treadmill for at least a week, but I can do the stationary bike. Basically, now I have two useless arms. Oh well, such is life.

Now, if anyone is curious, I've put a picture on the next page of the scar. That big brown mark isn't part of it. It's a birthmark I've had forever. I tried to get them to remove it while they were working there but no such luck.

port1.jpg

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Other Thinks (18)

sandrac:

That's quite a procedure. I guess your port is where the treatment can now enter. I'm sure that it's something of a relief to be through this part of the process and to know that you'll be getting into the real treatment part of the program now. (Is there anything worse than waiting?)

Best of luck, and I hope your neck isn't giving you too much pain.

Ida:

Hi Kim,

The surgical site and port look great! nice job. You may still get some bruising and swelling. good for you that parts over.

Ida

Sheena:

Baby step by baby step... except that these are really pretty wild unexpected/unwanted leaps in your life!

Terry's process was much faster - only one set of forms at admission. Probably because in Canada this procedure is covered by our national health care system - no endless insurance company forms to deal with.

On the flip side - he didn't get music or food. Our national health care system doesn't run to such luxuries!

It is an amazing little invention - your veins will really appreciate having it!

Jen:

Hi, Kim-

Positive thoughts your way...

Sending a hug too!

Jen

Jodi Marcou:

Hi Kim,
I just learned that you have a blog from the helping hands site. I read through your previous entries about your breast cancer journey to date and am amazed by how much you have been through already. Try to remember that with each step you complete you are closer to the end of the treatments. My good thoughts are with you on this journey.
Jodi

Hi Kim,

I can't believe they took up so much of your time going through all the administrative stuff. Isn't it the same hospital?

Music and food...both cool perks! I loved your choice of music :)

I am still confused with the port though. For some reason, the end where the medicine, needles, etc. would go in would be visible. So, will they need to stick needles through your skin into the port now?

I hope the pain goes away soon and your neck is not too sore.

Brenda :

'When you have lymph nodes removed on a side, you shouldn't have anything done on that arm again - well, at least for a good long while.'

I didn't know this, Kim!
Why?
Boy, you are one brave momma to take this on head first and keep us so well-informed at the same time.
You rock!
Hugs,
Brenda
xox

Your neck looks pretty darn good after all that!

And, can I just say?...Leave it to a Foodie to take a pic of their hospital dinner tray!!

Eden:

Kim, all the best wishes to you always.

A port would probably be easier to maintain.

Instead of a port, I had a PICC Line. Mine was inserted above my left elbow / below my shoulder. I sported that line for about nine months. It was also used for my weekly bood draw. It was a pain to cover and made sure it did not get wet when I showered... Oh well all's well that ends well. :)

At least I did not have to be poked with needles and it saved my veins while I had my chemo treatments.

jgk:

Kim, I can't believe you had the presence of mind to take a picture of the lunch! LOL
Good to see that you are still totally you.
Hugs for you...

Kim [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Girasoli, I thought like you but apparently the shot goes through the skin, into the port underneath, which is then connected via a small tube to a vein in my neck. I believe b/c of the port they used, it allows them to pump the meds in faster, so chemo won't take as long - fingers crossed.

Brenda, apparently, the lymph nodes produce white blood cells (I think, but they produce something that helps your body fight infection). Since I'm down eight, it will take time for those remaining (something like 20), to learn to pick up the slack. In the mean time, I have to be mindful of any cuts or nicks I get in that arm as I can get an infection easily and may need to go on antibiotics (file this under things your mother never told you but good chemo nurses will). On the good side, I stopped biting my nails on that hand (I can occassionally be seen though gnawing on my left when things get bad but even those nails are getting longer). If they don't fall out, I may get a manicure. :D

Deborah, pathetic, eh? But that was some darn good mac and cheese.

ChrisV:

You are amazing to be doing all of this. I don't comment a lot but you are so admirable to take the time to document your experience and in such a matter-of-fact yet fascinating manner.

PS - Loved the picture of the lunch and not pathetic at all. Mac & cheese is like the ultimate comfort food.

Kim, I also cracked up at the food photo.
Only a blogger would think of that! Glad that part is over and they can start killing those cancer cells fast! You are a good patient!

Of course I would be celebrating no treadmill for a week, and saying "yeah, and no bike either...". LOL

Lisa:

No walking on the treadmill for a week?? Ok, but as soon as I get back from Thanksgiving, I'm going to try to get you back to the gym with me. I'm lonely without you.

My thought was the same as Palma's - a good blogger, documenting the food in pictures whether it is at an agriturismo in Tuscany or at a NJ hospital. Love it!

Dorit:

Kim,

Wishing you all the very best and success in your upcoming treatments. I, like others have said before me, almost fell off my chair laughing at the hospital food pic. But it DID look quite nice for hospital food indeed!! Seems your good humor is still intact and that is one of THE most important things on your way to 100% well-being.

I have a friend who has been successfully fighting cancer now for over 10 years, she also had one of those ports put it at one point and it was wonderful because you DO save all those pricks and trying to find veins, etc.

Thinking about you A LOT and checking up on your blog daily.

All the very best!!
Dorit

Teaberry:

Kim, sounds like everything is going smoothly so far. That's good karma.

FYI, your lymph nodes are also responsible for drainage of "stuff". When you remove any of the nodes, the others have to work all the harder to get rid of impurities. Ergo, trying to keep that extremity as pristine and untouched as possible is an imperative.

Stay positive; you're doing great. Big hugs.

nancyhol:

What a trooper you are, Kim!

Thanks for keeping us all posted on your progress.

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