Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Port of Call

Tomorrow I get my port. To those of you who haven't traveled the cancer road, a port is short for a "medi-port" or a "portacatheter". Still fuzzy? I will start again.

Tomorrow my breast surgeon is sticking a long plastic tube somewhere in my chest into a major artery so I can get chemo administered through it directly to my heart. It is meant to protect our arm veins from the burning, toxic effects of the chemo drugs. Oh yes! The veins need to be protected but it is OK for the rest of us to get burning, toxic chemicals pumped into us. Do I have to ask it again?

Do you remember Star Trek? The real one, not the cheap knock-offs. Back when William Shatner was hot. (Yes, there was a time when people actually thought that.) On Star Trek, Dr. McCoy would scan his medical device over someone and heal them with vibration and dilithium crystal power and even the dead would come back to life. It was what modern medicine was supposed to be like on the final frontier.

On one episode the crew beamed down to planet earth in present day time. Bones (you could call him Bones if you knew him really well) was looking at earth's medical equipment and looking at what medicine was like in the 20th century and exclaimed, "THIS IS BARBARIC!" He was shocked at how human beings were tortured to be "cured."

Oh, Bones, you got that right.

Unfortunately this is not Star Date 9203, and Bones isn't my Primary Care Physician... I hear he doesn't take Oxford anyway. As a result, I am to report to the ambulatory care center of the hospital at 9 am. It is supposed to be a one day procedure. In and out.


You see, my breast surgeon took the time to tell me of the risks involved and should something go wrong I might need to be admitted. I am more worried about being admitted than his hand slipping. Did I mention I broke out of the hospital less than 12 hours after my 8 hour bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction?? I really mean it when I say I hate hospitals. I trust my breast surgeon and his skill, but I really hate hospitals!

I also have a question about hospitals: What's with the hats? Have you ever noticed the absolute fixation hospitals have with head wear?? All the nurses have hats on. Not pretty, starched white index card things, but full sized hats. A baby is less than a minute old and before they slap his butt they slap a hat on him. All the docs wear them. And they will force me to put on a blue paper shower cap before I take my coat off. Now some people look good in paper shower caps. I am not one of them. So far though, I have taken note that my surgeons do look pretty good in them so maybe it is a fashion thing - we like shoes - they are into hats. They must have them made at a special surgical custom shower cap joint exclusively for surgeons so they can always look good.

Anyway, back to my "port". It wouldn't bother me so much if it was hidden deep in my chest and was my little secret from the world. He WILL bury it deep in my chest but the toxic docs- um - the chemo folks, I mean, will need to access it. How do they do this you may ask??? Well, the doc who invented ports must have been a big fan of Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein. You see, right smack dab under my collar bone will be a knob. Bigger than a doorbell but smaller than a doorknob. Attractive, no? People will think I am carrying my own personal satellite dish. To make it even more fun, it will be covered with my skin. So it will appear like I have a odd growth.

And all this to help the toxic chemicals reach my heart faster.

I am having an epiphany here...

I have been walking around with a stomach ache for three days. I think I just figured out why. I am so not into this. No wonder I am feeling like I don't know whether to faint or throw up.

But do it I must. And I will. Tomorrow, at nine.

However, my surgeon has a little surprise waiting for him tomorrow. I am bringing three of my favorite summer tops, the top to my favorite bikini and a pen. I will try them all on and mark where their straps are and he can use that for his "guide". Isn't that a brilliant idea?

I have a feeling he may not accept my participation in this serious medical procedure. But my former breast surgeon got quite used to me. Every time I had to go in for a biopsy I would write "B9" on the spot they were going to be biopsying. One time I wrote on the unaffected breast " It is the other one."

Hey, I am in this alone. A girl has to do what a girl has to do!


Jacqniel said...

I can never figure out why we have to save our veins, but our heart is fair game. Wouldn't it be better to have a strong heart and ruined veins?
On a better note, I have my second port - and this one is set much deeper and except for a very thin scar you can't even see a bump. I will be thinking of you today and praying for good results and NO hospital stay! Hugs, Jacque

Kelly said...

I hope your surgery went well today. The 'whole poison being pumped into our chests instead of our veins' thing doesn't make much sense to me either.

I've got my second port too. They went in through the same scar as before so I would only have one scar.

This one seems to stick out further than my last. But hey, I guess it works.

Wishing you a speedy recovery from your port of call!


Anonymous said...

By now, you have a new port. I hope it all went well and they let you OUT of the hospital ASAP.

I had an external grochon cath, so I had this cyborg tube thing hanging out of my chest for 7 months...not a good look, but at least they never had to poke me...

So, when is the next step???

Deb C

Gina Maisano said...

Thank you Jacque, Kelly and Deb!

I must admit this is very painful, I wasn't expecting it to feel like this. Hopefully that will all go away. I don't have much range of motion and that is really bugging me.

Now that the port is in I am only one step away from chemo... that is, after the cardiologist gives the ok!

I don't know how far this thing sticks out because I haven't taken the bandages off. My surgeon was not happy that I brought my summer tops for him to see where he should NOT put it. I remember vaguely hearing the words "You are out of luck...."

You mean I have bad luck???

Ya think?


Kelly said...

Nah, not bad luck...just won't be able to keep it covered as well in the summer.

My docs kinda roll their eyes when I bring up my weight and other changes in my body.

I know they think I'm being vain (which I probably am), but hey, it's not THEIR body being cut on and poisoned.

Hope you're feeling better today!


Gina Maisano said...

Hey Kelly,
Why do docs think we are vain when we have cancer if we don't want to poison our bodies or get our bodies altered- yet if we DIDN'T have cancer they would be hounding us to not gain weight, not poison our bodies and to take great care of ourselves??

There seems to be such a disconnect!

Kelly said...

I think because they think that our appearance should be the least of our worries when we are battling the beast. That we should have 'bigger fish to fry' than worrying about our hair, our weight, our libidos, etc.

We are still women. We are still young. We are still beautiful.

The beast tries to take all of that from us (and more). And we fight it with everything that we have.

Gina Maisano said...

The beast may want to mess with our DNA but but we got drugs hunting it down.
You are a beautiful, feminine, sparkling woman. The beast can't touch the real you - and it HATES that!

ha ha! Kelly wins!!

No Surrender!