I was at the radiation department at 7:15 am, and, as usual, they took me right in after Marvin checked me in. The rooms there are just like the radiation therapy room with the Varian® friendly monster that delivers the therapy: like a meat freezer. They covered me up with heated towels, thank goodness.
Having to wear my brace buddy with its T support on my clavicle posed a bit of additional planning as the port usually goes right under the spot that my T support presses on my chest and collarbone. They drew an outline on my chest at the lowest point the T support presses on my chest.
To start, they gave me an IV. Once again that was the challenge of the day. After exhausting the possibilities in my right arm’s poor offerings, about 30 minutes, they used a vein in my right foot. Yeah, that saved them much grief and me many pricks. I must say they are very sensitive about sticking patients, even after I said Don’t worry about sticking me; it’s not a problem for me. We finally opted for the foot. The worst part of this was my being ticklish. We managed, however, without my kicking anyone in the face. Probably because my foot is more sensitive, at first it felt itchy, but that all dissipated. The IV carried saline along with a little Morphine and Vistaril; instant chill :).
The doctor determined to put the device in a position a bit lower than usual to allow the T support its range of motion. Additionally, Dr. Vajgrt decided that because my original breast and axillary surgery in 2004 was on my left side, he would place the device on the right side of my chest. I was conscious, and they used local anesthetic and some IV pain and anti-anxiety meds. I lay on my back with my head turned opposite the surgery; they put a tent over my head to maintain sterility. It allowed me to see the room and was not claustrophobic.
The surgery was a cinch. It involved inserting the port under the skin in the chest through a small incision with local anesthetic and then threading the tube into my subclavian vein that travels to the superior vena cava, just north of the heart. The procedure was maybe 30 minutes; the entire process including pre- and post-op was about three hours. It is not traumatic, and with the nursing staff, at least here at UCI, it is relaxing as procedures go :). If you have to go through this, it’s not something to be anxious about. Plus, the advantage of having the PowerPort® is such a relief for my chemo, blood draws and CT scans. If you’re getting a port, check on what kind it is. A PowerPort allows some added types of injections or infusions over the regular port.
Heck, with the titanium in my back and this nifty PowerPort I feel bionic.
After this we headed over to test drive the port with my first chemo infusion. More later.
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