Port in the Storm

It’s a pretty almost-Fall Saturday morning, the day after out-patient surgery to implant a medi-port into my chest through which chemo will be administered. I didn’t want the port; I wanted no more surgery, no more wear and tear on a middle-aged body that had already been through so much, and which was going to be facing a potentially radical chemotherapy assault soon. But, the wisdom of infusion nurses and the experience of friends who have had chemo prevailed, and I capitulated. I now have a port, officially called an “Implantable Venous Access System”. It’s under the skin and since I don’t have much if any body fat, it is a large bump on my chest…sort-of like a third boob. PATIENT PATIENT The process leading up to getting it wasn’t so bad. My wonderful and kind sister-in-law Karole accompanied me; we arrived on time to Northeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, and after a bit of a wait (I am learning why we are called “patients”), we were directed to a room for me to change into a gown, receive an IV, and wait a little longer. Soon, through my door came the anesthesiologist, who was a jolly older fellow with bit of a lisp. He said he’d been doing this for 30 years, rare nowadays to encounter a medical person older than I. His relaxed and jovial demeanor set me at ease, and his explanation of exactly what he would do was comforting. He answered all our questions and said he’d see me in the OR; I appreciated having a familiar face to look for. THE FINGER Next, in came the lady wanting my vitals – BP, temp, pulse. She was a Black lady who looked like she didn’t take anything off anybody. As she prepared to take my blood pressure, she said, “Finger”, meaning she wanted my index finger for the pulse monitor. I jokingly asked, “Which one?” She leered at me, held the thermometer up in the air and said, “If you give me the wrong one, I’m going to Plan B”, and looked at my bottom. The surgeon hadn’t shown up yet, but they were going to wheel me to the OR anyway, as his arrival was imminent. While waiting, I looked him up online and found his professional profile with photo, which revealed a career as an Army trauma surgeon and some impressive credentials, along with a handsome photo. En route, I looked up and there he was, Dr. Mike Albrecht, as handsome as his photo, and whose shirt needed ironing. We had a fun little chat about where to put the port, and since I didn’t really want it anywhere, I told him to surprise me. THE INNER SANCTUM We descended to the hospital basement, to the area that houses the operating rooms – the inner sanctum. As they wheeled me in, I realized I’ve never entered an operating room so wide awake as I was yesterday. I got to look around at the whole arrangement and thought it wasn’t anywhere near as sensational-looking as the ORs in Grey’s Anatomy. In fact, it looked more like a small white store room for big equipment. Then, I noticed the trays full of forceps of every size and type, and got in tune with the details, and hoped all of those instruments weren’t for me. They slid me onto the operating table, and I wondered how they managed with people who weren’t as physically able as I am. They covered me with a wonderfully warm blanket, and  started the IV to the clouds. I gradually drifted off, and was totally in their hands. BACK TO THE FUTURE I awoke to the welcome presence of Karole. My right chest and shoulder felt tight, but I wasn’t really hurting. Seems Dr. Handsome had used a lot of local anesthetic, so there would be really no pain…for a while. I became more wide-awake by the moment, and was aware of the time and that soon it would be rush hour on a Friday…and some serious traffic. So, I got dressed and we bolted that joint. We made our way through increasingly heavy traffic, then onto Hwy. 181 to Beeville. Since I hadn’t eaten anything since midnight except graham crackers they administered to me at the hospital (probably the most expensive graham crackers in the history of medicine), I was hungry and so was Karole. We stopped at a place just outside Floresville called Iguanas or something; as we parked, I could feel myself getting a little shaky. SEE FOOD We sat down to order, and I thought I’d better go for something easy, like soup. When my tortilla soup arrived, I knew even that might not be with me very long; a few bites later, I was praying to the porcelain god. The prayer, which came in several heaving verses, wasn’t pleasant, but the answer was heavenly. I suddenly felt waaay better! I guess the stress, lack of sleep, the drugs, the impending pain and everything all taken together just caught up with me, and my body revolted. I bundled up my food in a to-go container, and we got back on the road. Home never looked so good, as I greeted my loving puppies, got into my jammies, took a Lortab, and slid into my own wonderful bed for a long and welcome sleep. I’m still in some pain, but I’m healing. I’m in awe of my body; it’s taken so much this year…an appendectomy, a hysterectomy, cancer then no cancer, and now, the implantation of a port, and it keeps bouncing back. If my continued healing over and over is any indication, chemotherapy will, with the grace of God, will be quite manageable. With my first treatment this Wednesday, Aug. 28th, stay tuned for much more to come on that!

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5 Responses to Port in the Storm

  1. Raymond says:

    Gotcha! Thank you for another entertaining update! I enjoy reading them…But so sorry they are all at your painful expense! I hope to see you soon! I’m looking for a Doctors Uniform now!…but probably much older than your Dr. Albrecht! See Ya!

  2. So glad I’m not on the receiving end of this stuff but absolutely love following along and rooting for you every step of the way. It’s comforting to know that you’re surviving and thriving. I think your insight helps the rest of us deal with whatever life throws at us. Sending love and wishing you an easy 1st chemo treatment. ❤

  3. Jaime Powell says:

    I sure love you!

  4. Lynn says:

    Going to follow your blog Cissy…..Lynnb from 365!
    Hope your first treatment went well…funny about the appendectomy….I had one in Dec 05 and was diagnosed with Breast Ca in July 06!! Maybe we should do a study about appendectomies and Ca in the older woman??? lol
    Take care of yourself.

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