My cancer saga started when I was diagnosed at 38 with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I have a twisted sense of humor and have tried to continue with laughter and optimism on my journey...

Port this!

Episode XI: I dreaded that first port




Like with all these cancer things, it was time to do something else and I was not really looking forward to. Actually, I was dreading the port. I could logically understand why it was necessary. I could logically explain why I had to have it. I could logically do a bunch of things, but I really disliked the idea of having a temporary left in IV in my chest. It was the mental thought of it that bothered me and it was all in my head.


It would not be my life without some drama. My daughter was sitting outside the bedroom door in the morning saying her throat hurt. I felt her nodes, which were huge and knew it was strep. I only knew that because she has had it around 8 or 9 times starting in December. Really! So, I let the hubby know that he will have to take her to the doctor, since my mom and I are preoccupied today. He knew that the screaming, holding down fit was going to be his today. So, I got her an early appointment and then my mom and I dropped off my son at school before heading to the hospital.

So, mom and I headed to the hospital. Me in my comfy clothes and her with a coffee. We arrived early and made our way to the main entrance. They valet parked my mom's car - which I thought was pretty cool. However, she let me know that it was pretty standard if a person was driving the patient. To me it was a perk!

We made our way through registration: name, drivers license, insurance, date of birth. Like I have said before, it was a new daily discussion for me. Then we were walked to an imaging department where we briefly waited before going back to our room. I changed my top into the hospital gown and began discussing my second new hot topic: current medications and allergies.


My hospital room and me trying to be silly before the procedure.


The Radiologist doing the procedure did his pre-surgical thing and began detailing the Power Port. He began describing what he was going to do. It was making me more grossed out and nervous, so I began to block the words in my head. I figured my mom was listening and if I continued to hear any more it was going to make me want to flee the hospital. He was giving way too much detail about my veins, distance from heart, and things that just made me very uncomfortable. He then went into what could go wrong with the port line and clotting and I was then mentally taken to my happy place.

Oh, the nice snow-peaked mountains. The gentle river surrounded by river rocks. The yellow wildflowers. The gentle trickle of the water. Crap... I realized I had to pee. And thank goodness the Radiologist had gone on to torture someone else with details of port implantation procedures. I had to have the port, so it didn't matter how he was going to insert it or what could go wrong. It wasn't like I had an option here.

At this point, I went to the bathroom and got back to the room where the dreaded IV nurse was waiting. Great! I hate IVs. It was not the needle - no problem with needles - it's the having a tube come out of your arm that bothers me. I felt as if I cannot move my entire arm cause it moves and I feel it. So, when they draped the IV tubing across me and I was all grossed out, she determined that taping the IV down more might help. I was mildly happier.

Then we waited. Waited some more. I peed again, as I would hate to pee on myself while having the procedure. And then the time came.

The nurse began to move my bed away from the room and then with my twisted sense of humor, I looked back at my mom and said, "I'll try not to die." Her face was priceless. Then I topped that with raising my left hand toward her and faintly said, "I love you." as they took me a way. I know, my poor mom.

The nurses all giggled quietly. The one pushing the cart was like man that was mean and funny, like something she would do. I knew when we got into the room because it was cold. A reminder of all previous surgeries. While it was sterile and cold, that room was different. It had a large grouping of around 10-12 computer monitors hung above the bed with more technological equipment everywhere. Looked as if someone was going to have fun while hurting me today.

I was swiftly guided next to another bed. It was time for me to move. I was ready to go and the nurse told me it would be best if she locked the bed down first. I said it would have been funny if she hadn't and I fell between the beds. While she and the other nurses might have secretly thought that it was funny if she had to tell my mom that after what I had just done it would not be.

My new best friend, the man with the drugs, arrived. I asked if he would go home with me. He agreed, but said the drugs stayed here. I took back the offer - he would be useless to me. I made sure to say hi to all the nurses, I want them to feel bad if they killed me. Then they started putting heart rate monitors on my boobs. They gave me oxygen in my nose. They moved the blood pressure cuff because it was on that bruise from the IV I recently got. They put the monitor on my finger. It was almost time for me to go to la-la land. Which I must have cause the next thing I remember was waking up.

Apparently, during the procedure I had still been entertaining and annoying. I would fall asleep and snore, which I heard and woke up saying "I am sorry". Then I started to fall sleep and snore, which would cause me to once again apologize. The anesthesiologist said it was funny, however he loved the sound of snoring because it meant we were asleep. So, even in my sleep I am polite.

We did the standard wait until I am conscious and able to eat something routine before I was allowed to get dressed and leave.


 
Look, who was drugged? Me. Just got home with a sore neck & back, plus these bandages.


Once home, I was still groggy, tired, and hungry. I think I might have even slept and ate at the same time. I did nap for a few hours and then woke up sore. My neck and upper back felt really bad. It was hard to get comfortable. I could not lay flat. I could not lay on my side. I could not lay about anywhere. I remained in an almost upright position. If I knew what was ahead, I should have stayed asleep.

I woke up to some typical home chaos. My mom had left. My son had been calling everyone he could as he did not want to be at the band lock-in until 7 pm. He wanted to be picked up earlier and was already packed up to go between 3-4 pm. Seriously! Of course, my daughter had strep. However, she had worked herself into such a fit at the doctor's office that she was coughing non-stop and her asthma had kicked in. Seriously! My husband had run out of time and forgot to put the dog out when he left and she had pooped all in her crate, so the dog and crate were outside. Seriously! And I hurt way worse than they told me I would. If I didn't hurt so bad I would go back to sleep.

My husband left to get our son and I remained in bed listening to our daughter cough constantly. Our 13 year old son, did I mention he was 13, was full of teenage angst and went off to his room. My daughter continued to moan and then began vomiting everywhere. My husband spent the night cleaning up dog crap and little girl vomit. I was hurting in a way that did not allow me to rest that I eventually called the oncology office to ask for something... like drugs. What they normally give for pain medicine upsets my stomach so she would have to check and see.

She called me back later, with not good news. They wanted me to try Tylenol for the pain. That they don't like giving pain medicine over the weekend and by the time it takes to see if the Tylenol will work would put me into the weekend hours. While she said that they did not want me in pain, she was basically telling me that I was going to be in pain. And I was, thanks for nothing!

By almost 1 am we were all tired, cranky, and trying to figure out if we had to take my daughter to the hospital. Her oxygen level was low. We made her do breathing treatments and some tricks we've learned to help increase the oxygen flow. Of course, all of those things keep you awake. I hurt, but was trying to focus on her too. No real resting for me. We finally got her to a safe oxygen level, but my husband would have to monitor her all night. He was also having a bad day.

I went back into the bedroom sore and unable to get into a position to sleep. The port implantation, which they said was no big thing, really did hurt. My neck and shoulders were stiff and uncomfortable. There was no really good position to be at rest. The Tylenol and Tylenol PM was cutting the edge off, but was not letting me sleep for more than a few hours at a time. I spent all night waking up in more discomfort than comfort. But there was nothing I could do. The pharmacy was closed. The doctors would not prescribe pain medicines on weekends. Basically, that was going to be a good introduction to the pain to come.

By Saturday morning we were all still tired. My daughter seemed better. My son seemed better. My husband seemed tired. And I was sore, but better. Even though I only can sleep for a few hours at a time due to discomfort, I only hoped it would keep improving.

With my husbands help, I did eventually take off the bandages and clean the area around the port. I am still total grossed out by it, but I am going to have to get over it. At least I did not vomit from viewing it or mentally cause myself to be unable to use my right arm. So overall, considering the circumstances, I felt like I handled it well. I would not say it was a good experience or one I want to do again. It was necessary. 


My beginning battle scars.

In my head...


I think I am going to have a love-hate relationship with my port. I know that I hate it. I know that I will probably love the easy of its use during chemo. So, I am tolerating it. 

I will say that I am glad that Friday was over. It was an all-round bad day for every one. It's like they say, when it rains it pours. And at our house, it was pouring down hard. But, I guess I am going to have many more days of issues like that in the future. The kids will still be kids. The husband will still be dealing with more than his share. And I will still be sick, for a while....

These are the days.
These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
- 10000 Maniacs song


Episode Reference: I dreaded the first Robin - Emily Dickenson

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About Amy Brock

Amy Brock is a cancer fighter and survivor. Diagnosed with Infiltrating Breast Cancer at 38 she has gone through chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, and other procedures since 2013. Post treatment she has been diagnosed with lymphedema, chemo-induced neuropathy and bone degeneration in her back, as well as other issues including dysphagia, bilateral hearing loss, and arthritis. From being completely healthy, to having a variety of issues, Amy began blogging about her experiences as a way to help others. Read more about finding humor in the craziness of cancer at her blog www.tatawarrior.com Amy is the mother of two children and has worked for various non-profit agencies. In addition, she is a fine artist creating works in multiple mediums which can be seen at www.amybrock.com

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