This morning is what I think is the last step in making me an official cancer patient. The Chest Port procedure. A few weeks ago I had no idea what a chest port was or why I’d want one. Well today I am actually looking forward to getting my port.
A port is a device that gives the medical team easy access to take blood, administer chemo, and do all other things blood related. The biggest benefit to the patient is we can now avoid the hassle of getting an IV started for every chemo treatment and avoid the unnecessary needle sticks to draw blood every few days.
The bad part about a port is it requires a simple surgical procedure to install. I am never a fan of going under, for some reason I fear not waking up. The other challenge as I see it is the added foreign object in the body just seems to increase the odds of infection or some other unforeseen mess.
Well I show up at the hospital right at 8:00 AM to start the procedure. Any time I need an IV I get nervous my veins are difficult to find and often it takes multiple sticks to get a vein. Today was no exception, the nurse and I made small talk as she began searching my arms for an appropriate vein. The conversation always drifts to “do they usually have a hard time finding a vein.” That is why I mentioned the fact before we started the process. My advice is always put a tourniquet on tight and wait, one will eventually surface, but NO they all know better.
After a failed stick in the forearm the nurse asks if I mind if she goes in the hand. I say of course not, let’s just get it right this time. She finally gets the IV started and off I go to the OR. Once in the OR a new team takes over and we get ready for the procedure. As I move from the cart to the table, the new nurse says we are going to start the medicine to relax you. However there is a problem, the IV has failed and is no longer connected. That’s right the IV fell out.
The new team need to fix the issue quickly as I am on an operating table, draped, and have a Surgeon discussing with the team how the procedure is going to work. Pam takes my advice and tightly puts a tourniquet on my arm and continues the prep. After a few minutes a vein the size of a drain pipe popes up and a new IV is started and before long the surgeon and I are discussing how he is cutting into my chest. The best thing about twilight anesthesia is that you are actually awake during the procedure. I’ve been under twilight anesthesia a number of times, however this was the most coherent I’ve been during the process. The surgeon and I actually discussed a number of topics surrounding the Pacific Northwest.
35 Minutes after the initial cut the procedure was complete and stitched up. Hopefully my anxiety over blood draws is now over, and I can enjoy the benefits of my new port.