(Really Sour Lemons)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sucking Sour Lemons

Today was a sour lemon sucking day. I had my Strong Chemo Date (TCH) with the lovely aqua chair. I got there at 9:30, checked in by 10:00 and for the next 4 hours two different nurses tried to get my port to work. It wouldn't cooperate. They used about 12 syringes of saline, and a few of heparin, to flush it out, but it would NOT give a blood return. Under no circumstances. I laid flat back in the chair, I stood straight up, with my arms straight out, with my arms in super-cleavage making position, bent over at the waste-shoulder hunched-deep breath, neck this way, neck that way, one foot in one foot out do the hokey pokey turn all about... nothing worked. Once the nurse got a small blood return, very spotty and weak but just enough to flush the saline out, and then nothing for the blood tests they had to run. The last resort was putting a chemical in the catheter that would dissolve any junk that might be in there. They affectionately call it "chemo draino." Conclusion: My port does not work. 

Remember my port? I was supposed to have it placed on a Friday? The doctor doing the surgery (in an operating room under anesthesia) couldn't find my subclavical vein and punctured an artery instead. Instead of risking puncturing a lung she just closed me up and gave up. Then 2 days later the next Monday I had to go to Interventional Radiology and have them do it under fluoroscope guidance. I was awake and aware during that whole surgery and probably heard things I shouldn't have. I didn't have a good feeling when it was done. Just a gut feeling. 

The port site is finally healed. The whole area is numb so I barely feel the needle punctures. The scar is healed. The neck site is really ugly. I can see the catheter sticking out when I turn my neck and there's a visible bump where the catheter turns into my vein. You can even see it on the pictures I posted. I still occasionally wake up with a cramping like pain at the neck site but for the most part my head/neck aches have subsided enough to tolerate without drugs.

Now what happens? I will have to go back to the hospital sometime this week and have a dye test run to see where the problem is. If the catheter is kinked or too short and running into the wall of the vein instead of bending. (My guess is the latter, based on what I "heard" in the OR) How do they fix it? My guess is to go back in and straighten it, or take the catheter out and run a longer one. Another surgery? More scars, more tape, more blisters, more pain, and a helluva lot more money to pay. 

I'm feeling a bit down tonight. I'm super tired. A bit depressed. But I guess I just gotta do what I gotta do. I have to have port access, it's been strongly advised by every nurse I talked to and every doctor I talked to. I have lousy vein access and they can only use one arm. I have approximately 16 more weekly infusions and 13 every three weeks afterwards to still complete over the course of a year.

I'm starting to hate lemons. I'm going to bed.


  1. What a terrible grueling day you Lisa--I hope you got some rest last night. Someone needs to tell those OR docs to shut their big fat mouths when working on someone!!

  2. I've ehard this so often of people hearing things they shouldn't But more important you shouldn't be going through all this. Hugs and good wishes. Keep your chin up.