This post may be a bit too technical for some. But I know that my friend Marthe would be interested in it as a physician and because it was her who suggested I start this journal so she could follow what I am going through. If you don’t like reading about surgical details, just skip this post.
My chemo port, aka portacath or vascular access, was placed on June 26, 2018, 3 days before my first chemo infusion. According to Wikipedia, “a port is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has a septum through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical needle stick.”
The port was installed through outpatient surgery. It was inserted below my right clavicle. A catheter runs from the port up toward the clavicle, passes above the clavicle and into my subclavial vein and then all the way into my jugular vein. The port and initial portion of the catheter are completely hidden under the skin. It basically looks like a cyst. But the bump is not visible under a shirt, although it can be seen under a tight T-shirt.
It will stay in place until I no longer need it. It will be in there for months, maybe years. The downside is that I have to put up with a little bump under my skin. The advantage is that I no longer have to be repeatedly poked in my arm veins.
The surgical procedure to insert was totally painless. It only took about 10 minutes, although the whole event, including preparation and recovery times, took about 2 hours. I was under conscious sedation (through an IV of Versed (Midolazam) and the opioid Fentanyl. I was conscious throughout. I didn’t feel any pain although I felt some pushing, pulling and poking. I remember everything, including my dialog with the surgeon. This surprised me because I didn’t remember anything, not even being conscious, during my previous conscious sedation for my second colonoscopy in early June (I was not sedated for my first colonoscopy in February).
They placed a dressing on it which I was not allowed to get wet for 10 days. So, I got used to taking sponge baths and washing my hair in the sink. The bump was a bit sore for 2 weeks. It hurt the first time they put the needle in on chemo infusion 1. But I hardly felt a thing when they poked it for chemo infusion 2. The initial redness is now gone and the incision scar is barely visible.