When we first talked about the ‘Portacath’ (Port/TIVAD), there was a suggestion that it could be left in for a long time, “just” with a requirement to have it flushed with saline every 4-6 weeks. The oncologist, however, when I asked about this, said “no, your treatment has finished, and you don’t need it any more”, which is very encouraging! So Monday night I took a last shot of the port still in my chest… I’ve got quite used to it, and I’m certainly happy at how it means that the veins in my arms, which don’t want to give blood, have not been prodded around (aside from the one week where it didn’t want to work!).
So yesterday, I’d been instructed to go for a bloodtest at 11am, to ensure that it was sent of by 12noon. Despite my taxi being late (with local anaesthetic happening, didn’t seem worth risking the drive), I just about made it, and then as often happens with hospital appointments, went in around 11.58am:
Off to Maggies
Once the blood test was submitted, I popped around the corner to Maggie’s, dropped off a few hats that I’d not worn, or unlikely to wear, chatted to some of the staff, got a bit of a nibble and a drink, and met a friend who was heading to Look Good, Feel Better.
I then headed up to the IPU, where on 1st December I’d had the port inserted (in about an hour, local anaesthetic only, and surviving a potential fire alarm and my tough skin which bent the first port apparently!), and signed myself in.
There was a bit of confusion as one person came for me to take bloods, went off to double-check that I’d had them done, whether they’d come back, whilst someone else rang me to say they were looking for me, my bloods were fine, and we could get on with the op, leaving the other nurse looking for me when I disappeared. It’s good to find humour in amongst everything! Me looking a bit confused in the second bloods room:
Anyway, into the small procedure room, where Sam the specialist procedure nurse, introduced himself and what was going to happen – that it would only be 15 minutes and very simple. He then popped out the room whilst I stripped the top half off, and got under the sheet.
Operating table was raised, the blue sheet was placed, in went the local anaesthetic, and the first cut was made… I felt that – Sam said, we don’t do unnecessary pain here, and gave me another needle of anaesthetic (2% lidocaine according to the whiteboard!).
He took the port back out through the hole that was made to put it in, but this time there was no need to make a cut near the neck artery, and aside from having to press onto my neck, didn’t feel anything as that came out. Everything was then stitched up, they said leave it under the waterproof dressing for 7 days, when the stitches will dissolve.
Ready to go
Checking I was OK, Sam popped outside the room, whilst I replaced my clothes again, was instructed to lie still for 10 mins … double check that nothing was bleeding and wasn’t feeling dizzy, then was OK to go!
Taxi home, and flopped out on the sofa with laptop for the rest of the afternoon! Pretty painless, although I needed some codeine last night! Very pleased, by the way, that the blood clots from my nose have stopped, even if the indigestion and the fatigue hasn’t…
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.