Monday, July 11, 2011

Port removal

I recently had my bard port removed as I am done with cancer treatment (yes, a collective cheer is much appreciated). For those who aren't familiar, a port (or portacath) is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has a septum through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical "needle stick". The port is usually inserted in the upper chest, just below the clavicle or collar bone.
A port consists of a reservoir compartment (the portal) that has a silicone bubble for needle insertion (the septum), with an attached plastic tube (the catheter). The device is surgically inserted under the skin in the upper chest or in the arm and appears as a bump under the skin. It requires no special maintenance and is completely internal so swimming and bathing are not a problem. The catheter runs from the portal and is surgically inserted into a vein (usually the jugular vein, subclavian vein, or superior vena cava). Ideally, the catheter terminates in the superior vena cava, just upstream of the right atrium. This position allows infused agents to be spread throughout the body quickly and efficiently.
They told me that it usually hurts more when its implanted versus when its removed. I didn't find that to be true. I was in more pain than anticipated (thank god for painkillers!) I was told that mine was starting to fray so it was a good thing it came out. I had debated whether or not to have it removed because, what if (god forbid) I needed it again?! But then I decided to think positive - I will never need it again!
Now the question becomes, due to the aggressiveness of the cancer, should I have the other breast removed? I originally wanted them to take both but surgery is hard on the body. And of course it would have to be done when roller derby season is over!

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