Thursday, August 20, 2015

In Which the Chemo Port is Removed

Given the very encouraging news from NIH, and knowing that my chemo-port had been woefully neglected* for several months, I decided that it was time to have that thing removed.

I visited the same surgeon who had installed the port almost two years prior.  He is also the doc who operated on me initially, soon after diagnosis.

The port would be removed in his office, with me wide awake.  Oh, great.  I was eager to get rid of the thing, so I wasn't going to let a little thing like revulsion stop me.

His first question to me was, "Are we sure we're done with this?"  I showed him the relevant section of the radiologist's report; the same as you may have read about here.  He smiled and said, "All right! Let's take it out."

Swabs of some antiseptic, then several shots of lidocaine (ow!).  Then a lot of clanking of instruments and nausea-inducing tugs and pains and...comments.  Oh, the comments.  Could we just not talk about what is happening?  Please? 

Me:  You don't have to tell me what you're doing.  I'm not listening.  I'm thinking about fluffy kittens and fuzzy baby ducklings.

Him:  haha, that's great.  You know, usually when I see you, you're under anesthesia.  You're much more pleasant to talk to.  See, there's this sheath that has grown all around the device.  I'm having trouble cutting through it.  [dig, pull, cut]

Me:  No.  Really.  No need to tell me!  I'm good.

Me [in my head]:  What is it with surgeons?!

Him, finally:  Ah.  There we go!  Would you like to keep any part of this for posterity?

Me:  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  No.  Not even a little bit.  [gaaack!]

Him:  Well, I at least need to show it to you.

Me:  WHAT?!  No!  No, you really don't.  I don't want to see that.

And then?  He showed it to me! looked like a giant eyeball with...dangling tubes hanging off of it.  yuck. and YUCK.  I only just barely glimpsed it because I slammed my eyes shut as soon as I knew what he was up to. 

deep breath

So, that was gross.  But!  It's gone.  Gone, gone, all the way gone.  No more port.  No more chemo.  That is the fervent hope, at least.  Thank you, Saints in heaven.

We talked about kidney stones and hernias.  Not sure what I'll do about either one.  He strongly encouraged me to follow up with my urologist about the 10mm stone in my left kidney.  So.  I will.  I had an x-ray tonight, in preparation for an office visit later this month. for the hernia.  The surgeon is confident that he can repair it, and informed me that these never go away on their own (rats).  I have to decide whether it bothers me enough to want to undergo another surgery.  Not sure about that, yet.

Meanwhile, I'm thoroughly enjoying all of the not fainting that I've been doing since the blood transfusion at NIH a few days ago.  My hemoglobin was at the low, low value of 7.4.  I'm on a mission to make sure it doesn't get that low again--I was way more miserable than I needed to be.  Who knew?  Nobody knew.  I had been improving, and then...not.  It was a gradual thing.

Hemoglobin:  Yay!

I'm now thinking about lesson plans and gathering the school books.  I've got three boys who probably need to be starting (home) school soon!  This year I will have boys in grades: 1, 3, and 8. 

Third grade is one of the most-challenging (for me...probably for the kid, too).  In third grade, they learn to write in cursive and to do long division.  Yeah.  Important stuff.  ...stuff they don't immediately want to do, usually.  Perhaps kid #4 will surprise me.  You never know.

It's gonna be great!

Ports of the type I had are supposed to be flushed with heparin and saline every...something...month?  After my chemo regimen was over, I'd get the thing flushed at check-ups and scan follow-ups.  Eventually, the nurses were not able to use it for drawing blood--ever.  I stopped going in to get it flushed after December, when I started actively pursuing the trial at NIH.

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