Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Marina's Port ~ Reflections on the Experience

It's in! A PowerPort is now a part of me.
Goofy grin courtesy of anesthesia! Glad the head cap matches my shirt, too.
I was relieved to learn that they would give me anesthesia before cutting into my chest to place the port and guide the catheter through a large vein (superior vena cava).  While I have a pretty high pain tolerance, I have a low blood and gore tolerance. I don't want to see or hear them cutting into me.

It was an out-patient procedure done in the Radiology department of the hospital. That seemed odd to me until I learned that the doctor uses technology to guide the placement of the port and the catheter into the superior vena cava. We don't want them poking around hoping for the best, do we?!

The port is the raised spot beneath the red stitches.
There are 2 cuts ~ the one on top (on my collarbone) is tiny and was used to thread the catheter into the vein. The larger one (about 2" below) was made to insert the PowerPort. I have no idea how the actual installation process occurs - it's a macrame or crochet technique beyond my pay grade.

I don't remember much of my time in the procedure room. I do recall a couple of occasions where I said something or started to turn my head (from looking left to right), the nurse would say in a soothing voice, "Everything's okay. Close your eyes and relax, baby." as she injected sleepy juice into my IV. Those are words worth remembering.

Robert, my marvelous husband/best friend/partner in life, was my driver and companion for this particular procedure. I really wanted him to be with me for this one and he was able to arrange his work travel to depart late that evening (after getting me home and settled). 

Yet, as we sat in a sterile exam room waiting for the procedure, I wanted him to leave. I didn't tell him that, of course ~ that would be rude. At the time, I couldn't even articulate to myself why I wanted to be alone. 

Now, a week later, I think I get it. Sitting in a cool hospital room in a no-frills "gown" that is open in the back (nothing you would see at Victoria's Secret), I felt small, weak, and vulnerable. The IV was in place (for the fluids and anesthesia) and I signed several information and consent documents.  The magnitude of the illness hit me like a ton of bricks. Tears started streaming down my face, silently, like a slow, quiet leak at first.

All of a sudden it hit me: I'm sitting in this room, about to have a port implanted in my body, because my veins are shot from years of phlebotomies, infusions, and blood draws. I need the port because I require blood from other people to stay alive until another donor enables me to receive a blood stem cell transplant. 

I have a deep belief that the stem cell transplant will not only save my life, it will restore my health to great condition. I will use this gift to do great things for others, although I do not yet know what direction this will take.  

Even with this belief, I still get frightened. Yet I don't want my momentary lapses of fear to add concern for my loved ones. They have enough to deal with - my everyday limitations, doctor visits, the many uncertainties of the disease process...
My husband has the added burden of being our sole provider of financial and insurance security. To distract him from his work seems counter-productive to me...especially hours before he departs for a business trip. Perhaps it's my feeble attempt to protect him. He has been nothing but kind, supportive, and patient with me through this process. 

The only thing worse than being a sick patient is being a loved one of a sick patient. Watching any of my family members suffer with no ability to "fix it" would make me crazy. 

In the end, I did not ask him to leave. I did not hide my tears. I did not bellow out Boo Hoo's or break into heaving sobs, either. I told him that I get scared sometimes and this is one of those times. He took it all in stride. I am so glad he was there with me.


Connie said...

Marina, you are such an inspiration as you meet each new challenge of your illness with beauty and grace. I love you!! Connie

Bonnie's Blogging Adventures said...

Very touching and human! You are among many people who go through the same feelings perhaps at different times. You are surrounded by thousands of people who are coming to help you one way or the other. Feed on that love and hope.