Port Repair Day

I was still on the table when Dr Patel came to tell Helaine there was a change of plans. The easy tug to fix my port hadn’t worked. Instead they’d be attaching a new catheter to the existing port.

Another hospital trip today. We were due at 8:00 AM so the interventional radiologist could fix my clogged port catheter.

Silly us. We must have misunderstood. 8:00 AM was the procedure’s scheduled time. I needed to be present at 6:30 AM!

By 7:00 AM I was stripping to my underwear in the prep room. A few minutes later Chase inserted an IV into the back of my hand.

OK — let’s hit pause for a second. If you’ve never had an IV in the back of your hand I know you’re feeling the pain right now. It’s actually a really easy place to get poked with little pain or bruising. Medical lab phlebotomists won’t do it. Nurses will.

Dr. Patel came in a few minutes later. It was he who originally put in the port. Now he was going to fix it. It was going to be easy. Nothing to it.

Doctors like to compare whatever I’m about to get to my Whipple surgery. I get it. Everything is weak tea compared to the Whipple.

While Dr. Patel was trying to be reassure me all I could think about was I don’t hurt now, I will later.

We left the holding area a few minutes before eight. My gurney followed another down the hall. It was like a ride at Disney with the vehicle ahead briefly coming into view before turning away.

Today’s OR was a new one for me. Lots of stainless steel. Retractable gas lines extended down from the ceiling. CRTs, not LCD screens. They were large, high res and probably ridiculously expensive when installed.

That’s pretty much all I remember. They opened the IV and let me have a little Versed. I commented it was very pleasant high as I drifted off.

I was still on the table when Dr Patel came to tell Helaine there was a change of plans. The easy tug to fix my port hadn’t worked. Instead they’d be attaching a new catheter to the existing port.

This meant two incisions. The first was in my groin for the tug that didn’t work. The second is in my neck. It did the trick.

What was supposed to be a half hour ended up as two hours in the operating room. More minutes meant more anesthesia. I slept another two hours after that.

I am told my port now works. It won’t be tested until my next chemo session next week.

As for pain, this produced much less than expected. When I think about things too much my fear turns real. I should be smarter by now. I should be.

We got home around 2:00 PM. I went to work. It’s very cold in Nebraska.

Having cancer really is like having a second job.

6 thoughts on “Port Repair Day”

  1. I was sorry to hear that you were having problems with the port, so early in the game. It gets to be aggravating,(and worrisome, on the receiving end), but, from all you have told us, you have a great team of doctors—prayers continue for easier times for you. Good to see that you are able to get back to work–it keeps your mind off of your physical prob’s.

  2. You have every right to feel ANYTHING you want to feel, fear, nervous,
    feisty or just plain cranky…you are going thru a lot, none of us can
    truly understand, we don’t walk in your shoes. You are amazing, God bless
    you and your family.

  3. Hi, Geoff: Sorry to hear of the discomfort around the port. Please excuse me if you have already been given this tool: focusing on your breath. If someone on your team hasn’t mentioned it, you might want to ask. Deep breaths starting at your abdomen and slow exhalation through the mouth. I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it might be worth a try. It got me through the birth of an 8 lb baby when it was too late for a spinal.

    It’s not anesthesia, but the combination of keeping your mind focused on what you can control — your breathing — and the relaxation of your abdominal muscles with the large exhales and inhales.

    You are right. Your situation is very sucky re this latest kerfuffle. Your hospital sounds like a very good one – the must be somebody who can help with relaxation techniques.

    We are rooting for you in eastern Connecticut!!



  4. Hi, Geoff,
    I’m, Melody, Joel Levinson’s first wife, and I can empathize with your cancer treatment. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 and went through surgery, chemo (with a Groshong port, not sure it’s like yours) and radiation. Well, here I am. Still okay, still working and doing pretty well. You can too.
    Best regards, Mel

  5. I have tried numerous times to subscribe to your blog, but for some reason I’ve not been successful. Can you help?????

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