Earlier this month on the 2nd of October, I travelled the three hours south of Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie where I had an operation to put in my portacath (port for short) for ease of use/access during chemo.
I just realised how funny that I had to go to Port to get a port (HAHA).
I spoke with a couple of friends who I met through Canteen that have gone through treatment and I asked them how they got their chemo. One said she first had it via a drip in her arm then got a port put in and loved it, and my other friend had a Hickman line.
I had met with the vascular surgeon and he showed me the port I was getting, which was this awesome metallic purple Power Port and given purple is my favourite colour I thought that it was the coolest thing ever, although my doctor thought I was weird given that you won't see it as it is under your skin... but knowing it is there and that it is purple is all that matters!
On the day of the surgery:
I stayed at a motel close by the night before and a friend picked me up to drop me to the hospital at 7am ready for my admission.
Once at the hospital I was admitted by the nurses and then was called in to see the aneathetist, where he had decided I would need to be intubated during the procedure (means a breathing tube down my throat due to sleep aponea).
I was called around to theatre and had a drip put in and went off to sleep and woke in recovery an hour or so afterwards.
When I was ready, I was wheeled around to the area where you sit and have something to eat and be monitored before you're discharged and spent a few hours there. The nurses had Cat Stevens playing and the Eagles which were two of my dads beloved bands he listened to, so it was rather comforting in a way.
I was really stiff and sore from the procedure and having had the tube down my throat so I tried not to talk too much and sought comfort in icecream and cold drinks, which rather soothed my throat.
Me after my surgery
The night after surgery:
I found it so hard to lie down and sleep, given that I sleep on my right side and my port is on my right side, and it also felt like it was pulling a lot when I walked. So I slept seated/reclined on the lounge.
It reminded me of my thyroidectomy surgery and how my head felt all stiff like it could just fall off.
I was in a lot of pain as well, so I had some pain medicine to help keep me comfortable.
How is the port accessed?
On the 7th I had my first (unsuccessful) attempt at chemo. It was the first time my port was accessed and I was given a numbing patch to put over the top of my skin above the port. It was still really swollen and sore so they had to use a 1 and 3 quarter needle to access it.
It was a little tender having the needle put in, but the numbing patch helped a lot!
I had to do a lot of different tricks to get the port working and eventually it worked. Tips and tricks included:
-Turning head as far to the left as possible
-Taking deep breaths in
-Putting my right arm above my head
-reclining right back and trying all the above methods
-Sitting up and trying all the above methods again
My first attempt at chemo and port accessed
It turned out the needle was defective, so they tried a new needle and it worked using the head turned far to the left and coughing tricks.
I have since had my port accessed multiple times during chemo, but also for fluids when I have presented to the Emergency Department with dehydration and fevers.
For more information on ports and if it is best suited to you or your chemo regime speak with your oncologist or your chemo nurse who can provide you with booklets and information.