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Ports and stuff April 30, 2014

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects.

Everyone should get a port. Seriously. They are awesome! Okay, maybe not everyone. Maybe just the people who have to get blood drawn often or get IV’s done often. Ports are soooo much better than IV’s! You do have to have the port inserted, but once that is done, it’s smooth sailing.

So a port is basically a metal device that is surgically inserted under the skin and is connected to a major vein (subclavian or jugular) via a catheter (a small tube). The port looks like this:

The metal roundish portion goes under the skin. The triangular looking thing with the needle poking out is used to access the port and is how medication is administered and blood is drawn.

And this is what it looks like inserted. It’s like a bump under the skin.

The top is made of self-healing rubber, and it’s where the needle is inserted. The bottom portion is made of a metal (titanium or stainless steel) and it ensures that the needle doesn’t go sailing through the vein. Ports can be used for all sorts of things (delivering medicine, drawing blood, administering contrast dyes, etc.) In my case, it’s being used to deliver the chemo and to draw blood.

But back to why it’s awesome. It’s virtually pain free, at least for me it has been. There’s no fishing around with a needle trying to find a vein. There’s no pain associated with the IV insertion. No irritation or pulling on the IV insertion site. If you are going to have several things done in one day, you just access the port, and you can leave it accessed until everything is done. Accessing means the needle is inserted and the vein can now be accessed. This is what an accessed port looks like:
(The blue thing is where the syringe attaches.)

Anyway, so ports are awesome! And now on to the “stuff”. Today is chemo #2. The first chemo went really well and I didn’t feel terrible. There were maybe two days where I felt not great, but the rest were remarkably smooth. In talking with the medical oncologist today, he seemed to think this was a good sign and that I would likely do pretty well with subsequent infusions. The tiredness will continue to get worse, but he didn’t think I would suddenly get slammed with nausea. Hooray for that! He WAS surprised at how great my bloodwork looked. If you’ll recall, my hemoglobin was way low right after the second surgery. It was only 8 and as such, I had to take iron pills for a month. Well, as of yesterday, my hemoglobin is back up to 11, which is apparently a huge improvement. So huge, in fact, that the doctor wondered if I’d gotten a blood transfusion! Hooray body for boosting that number back up. Go team!

The one bit of news that was weird and disconcerting was regarding weight gain. I’d already read that breast cancer patients tended to gain weight on chemo, and had already started to see some of that. I wasn’t sure if the weight gain was still part of the “I’m no longer breast-feeding and haven’t figured out how to modify my food intake so I’ve managed to gain 10 pounds in 2 months” regime. Now I know that it’s chemo-related and can quit stressing about eating less food. But here’s the weird thing. The weight gain has something to do with breast cancer and not with the drugs. You can give the exact same chemo drugs to a lung cancer patient, and they will lose weight and look emaciated, while a breast cancer patient will gain weight. Isn’t that totally weird?

Wanna know what else is weird? It’s totally possible for spouses to get sympathetic chemo side effects. Hubs has had a weird, metallic taste in his mouth, which is a common side effect. I’ve not had that one, but apparently, he’s having it for me. Poor guy. At least he didn’t get hit with nausea!

So there you have it, a little lesson on ports and a wee update on chemo.

I’ll leave with with a photo of me at my first and second chemo sessions.
chemo 1-2


1. rlape85 - May 1, 2014

Thanks for the update. Glad chemo is going well. Sorry to hear about Rick getting the metallic taste in his mouth, hopefully will go away soon. love you.

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