Monday, January 14, 2013

Port Details

I’ve had a few family members and friends ask me about my port so I thought I’d explain, in more detail, what it is. 

Mine looks like this:

It’s placed in my chest like this:
The port was surgically implanted just under my skin so that there’s a half-walnut-shell hump and the three small bumps (on the round center of the port) that can be felt on the right side of my chest.  The round part of the port is made of a dense piece of silicone.  From the port there is a tube that runs up toward my collarbone, then turns and enters a vein that goes directly to my heart – the superior vena cava to be specific.

When my care providers need access to my circulatory system (to get a blood sample, give me medications or chemo, etc.), they simply push a specially designed needle, (with tubing), into my skin in the center of the three small bumps.  The needle goes into the silicone and into a small reservoir of my blood. So, for example, when I receive chemo, the medication enters my port, goes directly to my heart, and then is immediately pumped out to all parts of my body.  [Before I got my port, I received medications through an IV in my arm.  The medications had to then travel from my arm to my heart and then all over my body.  With a port, the meds are distributed evenly faster.]

Given that I have to get IV medications and blood drawings so frequently, I am glad to have the port.  However, the port has its downsides, too.  I have two incision scars that I didn’t have before and a weird half-walnut-shell foreign body bump on the right side of my chest.  Although having a needle placed into the port is much better than starting an IV in my arm when measuring the pain, it is certainly not painless.  Wynn suggested that I put a lidocaine (anesthetic) cream 45-60 minutes before anyone accesses my port.  My nurse pal, Debbie, helped me with that and that worked wonderfully.

Any questions?


Wanwan said...

Nice that you've got great hands-on (literally) support! Your blogs are informative and helpful...thanks for sharing!

Patrick Kennedy said...

Just wanted to let you know that my brother and I are sending Good Vibrations from Palo Alto! Loved seeing the pictures from your trip to South America. Hope everything continues to go as smoothly as possible -- Love, Patrick and Michael