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today's surgical adventure = port failure

Sometimes thing go according to plan... and sometimes they don't. Sometimes things happen... and sometimes they don't. Today happens to be a don't day for me!

My mom has been going through a lot recently. My dad was diagnosed with Metastasized Melanoma (in his lungs and a few other internal places... no external skin... crazy), and his treatment has been very challenging. So, my new cancer diagnosis has added another layer to the cancer crazy going on in our lives. Hence, she and I decided she should do the easy stuff for now. Taking me to get my port placement was supposed to be easy. She was ready for something... well, less cancer stressful. Turns out is was a much harder day than expected...

My mom was with me when I had my first port surgery in 2013. As a joke I said, "I'll try not to die," when they wheeled me off for surgery. Yes, I did that then... and I did it again this time too. She decided to video me saying it and we laughed as they me away. Honestly, it was funny at the time because we were constantly reassured the port placement surgery was no big deal... it would only take maybe 15 minutes... super easy.

But, it wasn't. I am not sure how long the surgery was but it wasn't easy and it didn't take minutes and he ended up failing... failing 3 times. I did not get a port today!

Here's a cute graphic of what happened...

Yes, this actually happened. The doctor actually came out and told my mom that he made three attempts to insert a port. And he went into the veins and pushed as far as he could go with each attempt, but it is dangerous to push too hard. If he did, he would probably rupture the vein and that would have killed me. He not only told my mom that, he also told me that as I was waking up from the surgery. He was serious.

I decided to look up this up and learned that if he: "Rupture of the carotid arteries, which provide blood supply to the head and neck, results in massive hemorrhage leading to death within a matter of minutes in 33% of cases. Those who survive are frequently left handicapped." I feel better... not!

He also told me (right after he said he could have killed me with a smile) that I was going to have another attempt at a port in 2 days with a specialist group, an Intervention Radiologist (which is a medical sub-specialty of radiology utilizing minimally-invasive image-guided procedures). They would have the necessary equipment to monitor my veins.

Now remember... I am coming of surgery and anesthesia meds. I am in recovery and not thinking super clearly and alone. They are also bringing a portable x-ray machine to check my heart and lungs for any issues post surgery. They have never done this before. So, I am wondering WTF did this doctor do to me while I was asleep!

I have a crap-load of mental question, but thinking why am I somewhere having this procedure if he doesn't have the right equipment to begin with and why is a Breast Surgeon the person I was sent to in 2013 and 2023 for port surgeries???

Originally, he said he was going to go in my original port location - which is on the right side of my neck. He scanned it and said it was too narrow to use that vein. So, he obviously didn't cut on it. However, he did take 3 different attempts on my left side and each failed because the veins narrowed - and if he continued to push he would rupture my vein... and kill me. 

I literally was drugged up and contemplating WTF was going on. I had been cut up on for really no purpose, but I had a bunch of questions that my mind thought of then and right after, but I didn't think to ask...

  1. He scanned my right side, why did he not scan my left side before cutting me up? 
  2. And 3 attempts? He didn't fail just 1 time... he failed 3 times?
  3. How aggressive did he push on me? Because I feel pretty beat up?
  4. Why am I having a surgery where he doesn't have the equipment necessary to handle possible medical problems for that type of surgery? Why would he have me in the Women/Children section verses the Main hospital?
  5. Why are you needing to do an x-ray on me before I leave... checking to see if you did any damage? 
  6. I have to do this potentially death port surgery again in 2 days. If there is a specialty group that does this surgery then why did he do this surgery in the 1st place?
  7. If this surgery was so simple and easy, why was I not told any risk ahead of time?
  8. Why did he tell my mom (and me) that he almost killed me along with the fact I am doing this surgery again in 2 days? Maybe a better bedside manner because now my mom is now freaked out and scared to death! 

I know have multiple surgical cuts along my neck and lower chest area. He glued them up and covered them in tape. They let me go, but later I got a copy of my x-ray result and it showed I have a "suspected mild left basil atelectasis." That wasn't there before (and is there now... it showed up on a later CT scan... post this port procedure. Makes me wonder what he did to my chest!!!

I was exhausted, tired, and kind of in shock. My mom was the same. She was so upset she went on a small hospital shopping trip when I was in recovery. She bought me a small funny witch to sit next to me as I recovered and a funny Halloween flag for my front yard. It was a way for her to cope with the shock of hearing I might have died. Today, was not an "easy" day for her.

When we finally met up, she said if I died in that surgery she would have played the video of me saying, "I'll try not to die," at my ceremony. We laughed. At least we both still have our odd sense of humor.

Serious Thoughts Now

This was very unexpected. I went through what we were told was an "easy" surgery. I did easily get my port the 1st time I dealt with cancer. However, I do think having a port placement surgery after having radiation on the chest creates more challenges (and the 2013 radiation and chemo could have also affected the veins). And I think that is something that should have been discussed with my husband and I when we spoke about this surgery with the surgeon (and none of these issues were ever discussed or even mentioned to us). I should have been referred to the Intervention Radiologist. And would have been if anyone had checked my veins beforehand with an Ultrasound Machine. That would have been a pretty easy way to determine the veins were too narrow for my Breast Surgeon to do... instead he cut me up to find it out.  

This is a picture two weeks after both port procedures. As you can see, there was some aggressive attempts and bruising far below my neck, chest, and breast. I wonder if this port procedure did do damage to my lung - which showed up only after the 1st attempted port surgery. 

Back to my current situation

However at this time, I only knew I was going to attempt to do this over again in 2 days... and I was told I would not be put to sleep for it the next time. I would be awake and in a twilight type state. I just heard my veins were so narrow that pushing through them would likely kill me, and it was not reassuring to think that I was going to be awake to watch my possible death. Don't quote me - but quote me, "I'll try not to die."

Too soon?!?!

Instead enjoy a fun video - Oingo Boingo's Dead Man's Party


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