A few weeks ago, I had a device put inside me called a portacath, hereon called a "port." It's a little catheter that goes inside my chest, below my right collarbone, and it looks a little something like this:
They did a surgery to put it in, and once it's inside me, it looks like this:
It connects to a vein up in my next that goes straight to my heart. Kinda scary right? It shouldn't be, but it freaks me out when I think about it too hard.
The purpose of this port is so that they don't have to stick my arms every single time I go in, and make me all uncomfortable. With this, they stick me once in the chest, in the middle of that silicon circle, and we're done with the poking for the rest of the hospital stay.
Or so it should be.
Thursday when I went in, we started with the standard poke, but for some reason the nurse couldn't get it.
No matter, she said. I'll try it again, and we'll hopefully get it right this time.
No pullback on my fluids. She went out to get the head nurse to help out.
"How are we doin today? Shall we get this port working right?
Fail. Yet again. Head nurse says he's never seen one not working, or being so stubborn. There was supposedly a clot blocking the way, so they put in some medicine to break it up with this poke. Take it out, try again.
By this point, I'm losing it. It hurts freaking bad to be poked in the same place time after time. and to try and get things running, he starts pushing and pulling on the syringe with literally all his force to get the clot out.
But ok, if the clot in in the catheter, isn't that pushing a blood clot into my heart?? So I'm freaking out, and I ask them but they say the clot would be stuck inside the port. I have no idea how that's possible, but I let them roll with it. They say they're going to send me down to Radiology where they can hopefully get it with an x-ray image.
On the way down there, I'm covered in warm blankets, bald and in a hospital gown. I look like your typical needs-a-lot-of-help cancer patient, and for some reason this gets me really emotional. There were little kids staring at me, and I tried to smile at them, but I knew all they had to be thinking was how weird, how different I looked. I couldn't handle it. I was holding back tears for the next hour.
Radiology was really great, they all remembered me from when I got the port in, which was impressive. One guy told me how much he liked my hair! ha ha ha. Plus I've cut one of the guy's hair that works there! He's next to try.
No whammies. They take a look at the x-ray, and it looks like it's just on the edge of the plastic and silicon. Keep in mind, my friends, that every waiting period takes me farther out from leaving the hospital, farther out from getting chemo started. It was 4 PM. I got there at 9.
One last, desperate attempt, that yielded no results. The doctor came in and did it via x-ray.
I couldn't hold in the swears, or the tears any more. It was too much. That was poke #7 and I was tired of feeling like a guinea pig, and also ugly. Man I felt awful.
They told me the problem was that one of my stitches felt like a knob they use to locate the silicon, and said don't be so patient with the nurses next time. If it doesn't work, ask to be sent down to Radiology ASAP so they could do it.
I desperately hope that never happens to me again.