Tuesday, December 2, 2008

port problems

Waaaay back when all this stuff first started picking up steam, Dr. Grasso signed me up to get a port. It would make IV chemotherapy much easier to administer saving me endless needle sticks in my arms. This sounded great back then because I have notoriously shy veins in my arms that have always been hard to find, much less hit.

It was supposed to be this great thing letting me get a needle in my chest (a lot less pain than you might think) and allow for both infusion of IV and medicine as well as blood draws. But then the insurance kicked in and for some truly stupid reason, blood draws and port accesses couldn't be done on the same day. Mind you the appliance makes both possible with just one visit... one needle... one insurance claim to pay. Nope, two visits for two procedures. And so Life went on. It still hurt less than getting stuck in my arm.

Until a few weeks ago that is. You see, the port needs to be accessed every four to six weeks whether it's being used for therapy or not. I'd been on Xeloda for so long, the only action my port was seeing was a routine access to flush it clean and keep it working. The last time it had been used in anger was for my reversal surgery way back in April. For my routine flush in at the end of October, things didn't go so well.

The needle went right in with only the skill Brenda has, but the saline flush did not give me the distinct scent of lemons I normally feel. It's a normal thing for me; I get this sensation of smelling lemons from the very back of my sinuses, forward. It's just how my brain processes the chemical signal of the flush and I've come to expect it. When things go wrong, I know it immediately.

Not only was there no lemony fresh scent, but there was a knot of pain and pressure, next to and above the port site. It happened again today. It feels as if the catheter tube from the port has been blocked and blown up like a balloon though I do not think it is that flexible. It hurts and it feels very very wrong.

So, Dr. Grasso got a call and a message to see about possibly bringing me in to see if the port is still in good shape. This almost definitely means a trip to the hospital where no one is as skilled at hitting the port as Brenda. It may also mean another outpatient surgery that I'd rather not go through except to get the port taken out.

And that may be a possibility too. If the PET scan on the 19th comes back looking good, chemo may be off the menu and I won't need the port. I already give regular blood samples for tests from my arms and hands so the port would be unnecessary. I'm getting ahead of myself but I admit it would be nice.

Meanwhile, any of you locals who know personal fitness trainers, drop me a line. I'd like to find someone whom can help me out while being careful in shaping up my abdominal muscles. Someone with experience training chemo patients would be awesome.


Lynn said...

How are you - and the port - doing? Hope things are well there!

Jana G said...

Hey Ken knows a guy in Columbia - Mark Shropshire (I think). He's been great with Ken and very careful of Ken's various health issues. Good luck!