Thursday, March 14, 2013

Update: Port Problem Solved (sigh of relief)

Before I get to the meat of my post I wanted to remind myself why I blog. Probably so I'll do it more.

I've said before that I like to write for selfish reasons. It's for me. It clears my head and helps me organize my thoughts. After a good blogging session I feel like I've just been to counseling. Weird, maybe (probably) but it is effective and cheep! 

I also blog for my children. While my oldest son will probably have his own memories of what we went through, the other three are probably too young to remember any details. Even if they all remember, I want them to know what is in my heart and mind. That it was sucky and hard, but we did it, together. As a family we pulled together, held on to our faith, and ran with it!

PS...I must run too slowly. That's why I have a husband like Jess by my side to carry me through. Sometimes literally. 

OK. Here's an update.

In not knowing what to expect from yesterday's treatment, I am pleasantly surprised. Yay!

I feel sick, yes. I gag when I get up to walk, but the nausea seems to be under pretty good control when I lay/sit down. Fun. They do pre-medicate me with nausea meds, but I've only had to take 1 pill at home. My head feels "full"...if that makes sense. Not quite a headache, but it definitely not normal. My stomach is hurting so I really have no appetite yet this morning, but I'm drinking a lot. Juices from my juicer and lemon water, regular water makes me gag. Otherwise I am in great spirits, I can manage my kids (don't tell, but they mostly manage themselves), and so far I can tend to myself and the things I need...gagging isn't fun, but sometimes,unfortunately, necessary.

So far so good. Now with yesterday being my first treatment I wanted it to go as flawlessly as possible...of course! 

Well, I have this port under my skin right under my right collar bone. It is usually super convenient from blood draws, to infusions for treatment and even for contrast for scans. Yesterday was different.

The needle that is used is about as thick as a tack, but longer. It is kind if intimidating. I try not to make "eye contact" with might see my fear! Hehe, just kidding, but I really try to never look at it. This is an illustration of how it works, and that is the exact port model that I have.

Well what they forgot to draw was nerves. The surface of the skin has many nerves. Nerves that can cause a lot of drama on my first day at Mayo!!!

I was accessed like normal. Sterile everything, both the nurse and I wear a mask, clean the area, then stab!

This is always a definite poke, but the feeling in the area goes away in about 20-30 seconds. I have had this needle in my chest for a whole week and it is barely a bother. Why does the feeling go away? I'm not entirely sure. I've always assumed that not many nerve endings are in between the thin layer of skin and my port. 

This time was different. "Ouch!" I cried out. It hurt a lot more than normal. Tears started to well up in my eyes and the overflow ran down my cheeks. My nurse, very concerned, asked me if that had happened before. Nope! My poor nurse did nothing wrong, she accesses hundreds of ports...why does my body always like to be in the 3% of things that people don't see often?!? 

Before I knew it I had 3, sometimes 4 nurses around me, asking me questions, examining the needle insertion, blood return and the skin around my port. I knew they had to figure out what was wrong...I wanted them to figure it out...but the more they touched the area the more it hurt. I tried my best to be cooperative and grateful for so much help, while tears ran down my cheeks. 

I learned quickly that a port that hurts isn't a good sign. They started to prep me to get treatment that day through a vein in my arm, and to have some sort of study done on my port to ensure that it is safe to use. You don't want chemo drugs getting anywhere they aren't supposed to.

They also paged my new Dr to come over and check me out. While he agreed with everything they were doing, he suggested trying one more thing. Re-accessing me. He said a nerve may have been hit. Although the sound of that was more pain, it was my best, most simple option. 

My skin around the port now felt raw and sunburned. Every time saline was pushed into it I winced in pain. So she removed the needle. AHHHH! It hurt, but at the same time, I felt relief. After a period of resting and re-cleaning the area (ouch) we tried again. 

This time I pulled the skin taught over the port to change where the big ol' needle went into my skin. Better!

The same nurse did the same thing, but with that minor adjustment to my skin, I already knew that Dr Reeder was right. We had hit a nerve. Hit it on the bullseye apparently. And this nerve was angry at us for disturbing him!

About an hour into my 4 hour treatment I could touch the port needle, the skin around it and move my arm without discomfort. I was so was my poor nurse. But bless her heart for getting me the help I needed!

The rest of my treatment went flawlessly as it could and a few hours later Kerry was driving us home from Scottsdale. 

Whew! I did it! I knew I could of course, but with that extra challenge with the port needle hitting a nerve thrown in there, I had to admit I was feeling pretty proud of myself for hanging in there and toughing it out.

Well, I am going in today and tomorrow to do the same treatment. Good news is she left me accessed so I didn't have to risk that happening again. That's how much you shouldn't feel the needle...I slept just fine with it in, and I toss and turn a bunch.

Day two is going to be a breeze compared to yesterday...right?!? ;)


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