Friday, March 19, 2010

Details of my new port (warning, some slightly gross pictures)

As Susan just posted, my port installation went in smoothly. I did ask the doctor if he had the wireless base station ready to hook into the port to which he gave me a slightly weird look. Apparently thoracic surgeons are not as up on the wonders of wireless computing as those of us in the software industry. Go figure...

I also had a nice conversation with the anesthesiologist before the surgery. When I had the excisional biopsy done, I had several days (over a week) of mild symptoms from the sedatives (dizziness, spaciness, etc.) which I was not anxious to repeat. So even though this was monitored sedation rather than a general, he said that he could dial back the sedation quite a bit. I don't remember much after I got into the OR but I really feel a lot more chipper than after I had the general. Hopefully some good walks over the weekend will flush the meds out of my system and I'll be ready for chemo on Monday with a clear head.

So on to the details of the port. I had talked to the surgeon about NOT having a power port (which is a bigger device that allows the injection of relatively high pressure fluids that are given when you get a PET scan). I thought we had agreed on a lower profile port but when he came into the room today, everything had been configured to use a power port. So of course, I had to call him on it (after all, I am the customer and he is simply a lowly vendor!) His response was that for bigger guys he likes the power port. So that seemed ok.

Next issue - hurry up and wait. We were at the hospital at 11:30, right on time. We got processed into our prep room quickly and then had to wait there for over 90 minutes. By the end of the waiting I was telling those guys that I was a consultant and that I was going to start charging them by the hour for my time. Which didn't impress them in the least. I did bring my Kindle and got some nice recreational reading done (junky sci-fi) and the nurses were all interested in seeing the Kindle.

So finally the port procedure got started and from what I could tell, was super smooth. I remember being in the OR chatting with the nurses about stuff and then in the recovery room with a new bump on my chest. Everything went smoothly and I'm now ready for chemo!

And finally, the before and after pictures. Here is the upper left hand quadrant of my chest at 11:15 this morning:

And here is my left upper chest area now:

It really does look a bit like an alien getting ready to erupt from my chest, doesn't it? The bump on the bottom of the picture is port. The red dot in the middle is from where they did a sample draw of blood to make sure it's in the vein OK. Attached to the port is a line that's about 10 centimeters long that goes towards the middle of my chest into the superior vena cava right at the entrance to my heart. The seam above the bump is where they pulled back the skin to insert the port and to inject the line into the vein. They used a kind of super glue on my skin so I don't have any stitches that need to get removed. Pretty cool!

After a bit of time in the recovery room we were cleared for the short ride home. Stopped at Dairy Queen for my favorite pre-chemo weight boosting tool (blizzard with heath bar mixed in). Got home and realized - oops - that perhaps I had been discharged a bit too quickly. Still had some hardware in my arm:

Susan managed to get that out no problem and I'm now set for a fun weekend of activities! I know that some of you were sending extra ju-ju my way today so thanks for that. The procedure certainly went very smoothly and I feel pretty good. So thanks to my various wing men (wing-women?) for your support. One step closer to getting better!!!


  1. I was thinking a lot about you today... glad to see that it went pretty well.

    And it's great that your anesthesiologist listened to your concerns and reacted accordingly.

    That port is pretty crazy, I am used to seeing semi-permanent ports in use but that is a whole 'nother level of industrial infusion capacity.

  2. Yeah, it went pretty well. And I can now report that going with food for 18 hours makes you really hungry! Anyway - I was pretty worried that the port would cause a major change in lifestyle, like not being able to swim, mountain bike, etc. But according to everyone I talked to I'm cleared to do all my normal activities.

    I suspect that I'll get a few funny looks the first time I hop into the pool with my new Borg implant in plain sight but luckily it's not that obvious to me so mostly it will be other people that will have to get used to looking at it :)

  3. Oooh, satisfyingly graphic photos! We expect nothing less from you. Glad to hear it went well. Sending white light northward through the snow.

  4. Glad to hear it went well. I'll be sending you more good vibes on Monday!