Thursday, March 31, 2011

You've Been Deported

Bye, bye old friend.
Ahhhh.  Turn your head to the left.  Now, turn your head to the right.  Feel anything?  Me neither! 

As of 11:55 am, I was made 0.03 lbs lighter and relieved of my subcutaneous plastic friend.  In hindsight, I feel like I should have named it.  After all, it was so helpful, eliminating lots and lots of IV drama, safely and effectively hooking me up to meds and saline, allowing me to donate viles of blood for testing and trying its darndest to become a permanent part of my chest.  We spent many long sleepless nights together, trips to the ER, travels through the PET/CT scanner.  That little plastic dude was a really a true companion, reliable even for an MRI, and right up to the end, for a squirt of antibiotic before the removal procedure.

Seriously? No sedation? Hmm.
I had been wondering what it would look like in there, under my skin, almost a homegrown part of my body by now.  Is it like when a tree grows around electrical wires?  Would my tissue, my veins simply make new paths around this little guy?  Well, apparently there was a substantial amount of scar tissue that had grown around the port, and this required a good deal of tugging and cutting to get him outta there.

But let me back up a minute or two and give you a clearer picture of the morning. 

Dan and I waited in the Radiology Registration room for one of the IR (interventional radiology) nurses to come and fetch me.  We waited and waited and finally, she arrived, bringing me through all of the double doors (authorized personnel only) and back to the familiar sounds of the IR prep/recovery room.  I have lost count of how many times I have visited this place.

Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye
I got the first bed, by the door, and hung out for a few minutes while the computerized-vital-sign-taker gave my arm a tight hug and my heart rate was deemed normal (thank goodness for modern pharmaceuticals).  I changed into my gown and was then approached by a radiology resident to sign the consent forms for the hospital.

This tends to be my favorite part of any procedure:  discussing the risks and even Worst Case Scenario.  I mean, how strange is the time when someone is about to intentionally cut you open and you are not only letting him, you're asking him to do so.  You sign a piece of paper that says, no matter what happens, I asked for this.

under the sterile curtain
Next up, I got wheeled into the fancy schmancy IR operating room (even fancier than the one where they put the port IN), just in case something went wrong and the catheter got stuck, they would have to do a more invasive digging job that would require the use of x-ray machines and for me to go under general anesthesia (hence WCS).  You know, just in case.  I decided to refer to this room as the Just In Case room.

As soon as we arrived, people began to prep me, sterilize the area in question and talk to each other about the procedure.

Nurse #1: So why are we removing this port?
Nurse #2: Finished treatment.
Nurse #1: All done?
Me: Yup.
Nurse #1 (shimmying around the room): Woo hoo!  Port Out! Port Out!
Me: Yeah, it's good times.
Nurse #2: And she wants to take a picture of it once it's out.  She has her phone right here.
Nurse #1: Okaaay..

aw, isn't he precious?
It was about that time that the radiologist/surgeon guy begins to stab/poke/pinch me with what I'm certain was a very large and thick needle.  He prefaced this by saying, "You are going to feel a small pinch while I administer a LOT of local anesthetic."  What he meant to say was, "I am going to thread an extremely sharp, humongous, pointy thing through your skin many many times without numbing it first and it is 1,000 times worse than when you get a needle in your gums at the dentist, so hold onto something and try to remember your lamaze breathing."

Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow.  I have had plenty of pain (real pain, not just a bruised knee or a sore throat) in the past few years, so I'm pretty clear on what hurts and what is just passing discomfort.  This was real, hurty pain.  The doc advised me to watch some videos on my phone, so I began to watch the one on youtube of Judah laughing at 5 months old.  I watched it about 5 times before I realized that it may be distracting to the doctor as well, so I changed it to Will.I.Am's "What I am" from Sesame Street (since all of my/Judah's "favorites" are from sesame street), and eventually to Vanessa's Wedding Surprise, which always makes me happy.
Bump? Gone. Happy me.

Since I had been given ZERO sedation, you can say that You Tube got me through the big needles at the beginning, the removal of the catheter (no drama, phew), and the sharp pain (enter even more local numbing agent) of the cutting out the port in the middle and then the stitching me up at the end.  Paste on a little glue and call it a day.

I'll admit, when the port was finally out, and the doctor proclaimed, "You have been de-ported," I began to cry.  The nurse standing next to me noticed and asked if they were happy tears.  "Um-hmm," I nodded.  Tears of incredulous emotion, of fear of the future, of relief, and surely, happy tears.

Now, no showers for 2 days (good thing it's not 90 degrees out like in July when I got it in and couldn't bathe), and no lifting more than 10 pounds for 10 days.

Aside from the port removal, today was also a milestone in another way.  My handicapped automobile placard expires tomorrow.  That's it.  No more easy parkin for me, it's back to the circling, parking in the back (or, of course, the drop-off).  I truly am slowly returning to normal, even if only on the outside.  Gotta start somewhere.

I've been looking forward to the last day of 3-11 since this came in the mail.



  1. As soon as you are fully healed, I'm gonna give you a real tight hug...the kind you can't get when you have a port!!

  2. So happy for you. Good job, & your hair looks great! Keep up the good work. Stay well.
    Barbara Harrington

  3. How exciting that you go that crazy thing out! You are so funny - I love reading your posts! Can't wait to read the whole book when you get it published. Big Hugs!- Gina

  4. I can't believe you got a snapshot of your port! Congrats on the de-portation. Go Mia!