Implantable ports

Three of the four drugs I'm on, pertuzumab, trastuzumab and zoledronic acid will continue to be administered intravenously after my 6th round of chemo.  Options for this would either be by having a catheter in the hand/arm each time, using a PICC line, or using an implantable port.

After the chemo leaked and gave me a scar after having my chemo administered via a catheter in my first cycle, I had a PICC line implanted.  This was in my left arm and involved me having to keep it dry (no swimming in this hot weather), wearing a shield while showering and having it flushed each week to ensure it didn't get infected.  While this wasn't really an issue while I'm going through the chemo treatment, I'm hoping to celebrate the end of chemotherapy by rebooking my postponed holiday to the Amalfi Coast.  If I'm going to the Amalfi Coast, then I'm definitely going to want to go in the water...

After discussing this with my breast care nurse, she put me on the wait list for an implantable port, or portacath.  As the implantable port is a little more complicated than the PICC line, there was a wait list of a month. I was finally given the date to have my portacath inserted - 1130 on Tuesday 31 July.  I was told not to have anything to eat or drink from midnight on Monday night/Tuesday morning and that they wouldn't discharge me unless I had someone to take me home by car or taxi.

Pre op - loving the sexy red socks!
The team at St Thomas' Hospital interventional radiology department were lovely.  We walked in and were greeted with smiles.  Then started an endless number of consent forms and checks before I was gowned up.  An hour later I was taken in to room 14 where the portacath was inserted under local anaesthetic.  I was given the option of having sedation but as it meant I would have to wait longer to go home, I decided to try it with just the local anaesthetic.  I'm not going to lie, it wasn't pleasant but at least I couldn't see anything as they put a plastic sheet over the side of your face and body that they're doing the op on.  They insert the tube in your neck first and at one point I was sure I had blood spurting everywhere as they asked me to breath in, hold my breath, fumble a bit and then repeat it three more times before asking for some piece of equipment that had to come out of a double locked cupboard.  They were just about to break open the equipment when I heard, it's ok, it's gone down, we don't need it!!!

They then insert the port just above the breast and that as pleasant as feeling the vibrations of the dentist's drill.  There's lots of pushing and proding.  During this stage, one of the nurses came and chatted to me, I think trying to distract me from all the pushing and proding going on.  Finally, the surgeon said it was all in and connected and all that was left was to stitch up the wound but that would take another 20 - 25 mins.  By this stage I was getting cramp in my neck from having it turned to one side for so long and my back was getting stiff from lying so still and tense for so long.

Finally, just after 1400 they wheeled me back in to the recovery ward and straight away I was surrounded by the lovely team asking if I wanted water, a hot drink, what sandwich I wanted...  Not having had my morning coffee, that was first on the list, shortly followed by an egg sandwich.  (Yip - I'd been craving an egg sandwich of all things!)  Finally, around 1600 they said I could go home but that I needed someone to stay with me overnight, just in case.

Post op, so pleased it's over!
Post op, no bruising yet... 


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