Friday, July 2, 2010

To Port, or Not to Port

I had my monthly IVIg this morning. I finally figured out that having it on my day off, I could save using vacation time (my sick leave, once around 1000 hours) has dwindled to zero).

They accessed my sad, diseased body via a Power Port, which is a type of subcutaneous port. Since it is entirely under the skin, one can shower, exercise, and do anything one would normally do without having to worry about protecting the area. What a relief!

The port was placed almost a year ago, in late July 2009. The only reason I had it put in was that it was a requirement of the flavopiridol (Alvocidib) trial I concluded in mid-March of this year. I suppose that was for convenience or to protect my veins.

At first it was pretty weird having a lump in my upper chest. It isn't visible with a shirt on (I wear baggy shirts because of my middle-age spread). It is noticable, of course, when I have my shirt off, but I never take my shirt off in public (people would complain about the unpleasantness). My new GP thought it was a huge boil, until I told him it was the port.

I couldn't wait to get the port out at first. It's a daily reminder of my serious illness. Now, after a year, I'm going to leave it there for as long as I conceivably need it.

It isn't perfect. I've bumped it a couple of time, working around 2x4s and the like, and one can't lean against anything in that area (like one would do reaching for something). I sometimes worry about it falling apart and causing a clot. (There is a noticeable tube that runs from the port into a large vein that empties into the heart; it's on the left side of my chest. That can be felt and would be catastrophic if it broke off and traveled to my heart.) And I think the worst risk would be if I was in a car accident and slammed into the steering wheel. Or even an airbag.

I bring it up because of my temporary neighbor in the infusion room this morning. He has a PICC line, which in his case is a series of three tubes that collectively go into a vein in his arm. He has developed an infection around the PICC line entry point, and once the nurses saw that, they became very concerned, paged the doctor, etc. etc. They suspect either a bacterial or a fungal infection. Luckily, it seems to be a surface infection and not into his blood (for now, at least).

I said a short prayer for my fellow cancer-sufferer. I hope he is OK. We are a brotherhood of sorts, I suppose.

No comments: