Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Port

Tuesdays are my day to count how many weeks of treatment I've been on. Today it is seven. I've been grappling with how to blog about this experience and what exactly to write about. Combined with having very little computer time each day, this has made blogging a challenge.

I want to find ways to blog about this experience because is has been so significant--physically, emotionally and spiritually--but most of the time the energy resources aren't there. Plus my brain fog is so bad that I wonder if I will be able to write anything that makes sense!

Today I wanted to share a little bit about the port. When I went in for surgery, I had some idea of what to expect but was not at all prepared for what the port would entail. First, a little 'technical' explanation of what having a port entails and then the 'emotional' side of it.

Above is a picture of a port (from Wikipedia) that gives you some idea of what was inserted under my skin.

The port is located just below my right collar bone in the left cephalic vein. The catheter goes from the left cephalic vein to the left subclavian vein and then to the superior vena cava, giving direct access to the heart.

The surgery itself went very, very well. The surgeon was thrilled (he came out to greet my parents after surgery with a big smile on his face) with the fact that the port had been placed in a smaller vein and that all had gone so smoothly.

Of course, I had asked a lot of questions before surgery about recovery and I was told I would have 'some discomfort' but could resume my normal activities within a couple of days. That was not at all the case! I had a LOT of discomfort and could not move my arm hardly at all! Plus, I had a lot of problems with near-fainting after the surgery.

The port itself is completely under the skin. However, because I am receiving infusions of antibiotics every day, the port has to be accessed at all times. This is different from say chemo, during which a person might go for a treatment and then not have the port accessed again until their next treatment.

Above is a picture of the needle, called a Huber needle that Monica places in my port weekly. It stays there for the week and then needs to be changed. As you can see, there is an external catheter through which we give my infusions. We accessed the port the day after surgery so that we could start the antibiotics.

The type of port is a Bard Mediport. For those who really want to know more about how the port is in the body, how it is accessed, etc. click here.

And here is the picture of the real thing. Me with my port. It's taken me a while to get used to the port. More and more I don't notice it as much, but at first it was a huge emotional shock.

When Monica first pulled the bandage off post-surgery, I almost fainted. I don't know what I had pictured, but when I saw the six stitches I couldn't believe how big the incision was. The port is much easier to look at without the stitches!

At first I kept looking at this foreign object sticking out from my body. I felt sick and overwhelmed by the site of it. I prayed that my body would accept and integrate this new object as part of what I needed for healing.

Thankfully, right now it's winter and no one can really see the accessed port. I'm not sure what I'll do or how I'll feel come summer, but that's too far away to worry about.

For now, I try to view the scar as the mark of a warrior, as part of what makes me who I am, as a marker of my journey. And despite its inconveniences, I'm grateful that my body seems to have accepted the port and we can easily administer the medications I need.



Photos: Port picture from Wikipedia; Pictures of the Huber needle kit used to access the port; Me with my accessed port.

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Hmm, I thought I had left a comment on this a few days ago. Apparently it didn't go through.

Thank you for sharing this. I helps me understand the details of what you are dealing with daily. I can see better how just getting the port alone requires a major adjustment, let alone manage the effects of the medication.