Saturday, August 7, 2010

The chemo port has been installed!

Yesterday I had my chemo "Power Port" installed.  The port was placed under the skin, just below my collar bone. 

 Wiki describes this device and procedure more effectively than I could : "The port consists of a reservoir compartment (the portal) that has a silicone bubble for needle insertion, with an attached plastic tube (the catheter). The device is surgically inserted under the skin in the upper chest or in the arm and appears as a bump under the skin. It requires no special maintenance and is completely internal so [showering and] bathing are not a problem. The catheter runs from the portal and is surgically inserted into a vein (the jugular vein, subclavian vein, or the superior vena cava). Ideally, the catheter terminates in the superior vena cava, just upstream of the right atrium. This position allows infused agents to be spread throughout the body quickly and efficiently. 

The septum is made of a special self-sealing silicone rubber; it can be punctured hundreds of times before it weakens significantly. To administer treatment or to withdraw blood, a health professional will first locate the port and disinfect the area. Then he or she will access the port by puncturing the overlying skin with a 90° Huber point needle although a Butterfly needle may also be used. (Due to its design, there is a very low infection risk, as the breach of skin integrity is never larger than the caliber of the needle. This gives it an advantage over indwelling lines such as the Hickman line.) Negative pressure is created to withdraw blood into the vacuumized needle, to check for blood return and see if the port is functioning normally. Next, the port will be flushed with a saline solution. Then, treatment will begin. After each use, a heparin lock is made by injecting a small amount of heparinized saline (an anticoagulant) into the device. This prevents development of clots within the port or catheter. In some catheter designs where there is a self-sealing valve at the far end, the system is locked with just saline. The port can be left accessed for as long as required. The port is covered in a dressing to protect the site from infection and to secure the needle in position."  Thank you, Wiki!

The reason a port is recommended is because the substances injected into the veins for chemotherapy are quite toxic and are very hard on one's veins, not to mention the discomfort of numerous needle sticks for chemo and constant blood draws.   The chest is an ideal location because the veins are large and carry more blood which helps to dilute the the toxic drugs.  The procedure is simple, fairly quick (about an hour) and in my case was done under local and "twilight" ( anesthesia.  

Surgery started at 8:00 and I was home by 11:30 with a prescription for Hydrocodone (Vicodin).  Thank you, Dr. Abikhaled and the nurses and staff of Central Park Surgery.  

After Morgan brought me home from surgery,  Laura M. arrived to insure that I did not do injury to myself while still under the effects of anesthesia.  She made me lunch, got me juice, helped to unload and load the dishwasher, and kept me entertained until time for Morgan to come home.  Laura, you are awesome! Sweet Stella dropped in to drop off her beautiful casserole made from Boggy Creek Farms organic vegetables and to chat. Stella, you are a gem.  Then last night, Joel and Angela came over and  brought dinner to us from Curra's (Yum!).  It was great to hang out with them, even through a vague Vicodin haze.  And today, Angela the amazing, is returning to vacuum the floors, mop the kitchen floor, and do a couple of loads of laundry.  

I've been the grateful recipient of so much care and love.  This week I was cheered, fed, and well-cared for after my first chemo treatment by Michele, Finn, Edmo, and Kat, and Lynda brought me her wholesome, healing  Matzah Ball Soup.  Thank you, dear ones.  Morgan is the wonder-husband, always by my side, loving me, fretting over me, caring for me, and making me laugh.  If you want to do something for me, ask Morgan what he needs.  


  1. Oh, my eyes are watering. I too thank all of your amazing friends: Laura, Stella, all of them!

  2. Wah! I guess i just didnt realize you were talking full-on surgery. I should pay more attention. Poor thing. But no more chemo for 2 weeks anyway, huh?