Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Port-a- Party

July 9, 2009 was the day I got my medi-port surgically implanted under my skin in order for my chemo medications to be administered to me in a safe way. This device was a purple triangular shaped medi-port (called a Power Port) that showed through my skin and rose above my chest by about ½ an inch. I was asked by the nurses and a few other people who opted to see it, if I was bruised because the purple color showed through my skin.

At best, the port was uncomfortable and on bad days there was soreness and shooting pains surrounding it. My seat belt ran right across it, and I never ceased to bump it with a something I was carrying. I began avoiding hugs for fear of pain from the port digging into my chest by a well meaning loved one. Trying to sleep was another story. And to say it was unattractive is a mild statement. I had to carefully select clothing to wear so that my port was not visible to anyone. The thought of someone seeing my port by accident crossed my mind as I would dress. Occasionally I would envision the look of horror or disgust on their faces as they caught a glimpse of it. If I was having second thoughts about a particular blouse or sweater, that “look” would make me change every time.

I had been trying to get the nurses at the cancer center to arrange for me to get my port out for awhile. Each time I approached the subject with the nurses, they would tell me the doctor would want me to keep it in for at least a year. When I asked the doctor when I could get it out he said “Anytime you want!” So again, I would approach the nurses telling them “he said” and I would get mumbles or “the doctor will need to write a work order up for that” and yet they never did get back to me after their declaration that they would “have to talk to the doctor about it”. Finally on my visit on February 18th, I pinned the doctor down and said, “When can I get this out?” once again he said “Whenever you want”. I replied. “I want!” He then began to back stroke pointing out what I went through to get it put in, yada, yada. So I asked him if there was a reason to keep the port in and he just shook his head no and started writing up a work order.

I realize why they all wanted me to keep the port in.. in case of a recurrence. However, I refuse to live with the when or “what ifs”. Matthew 6:34 says "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." And Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12:22 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." So, I choose not to live in fear and worry about if cancer will return. Instead, I want to move forward in life and that did not include having a port sticking off my chest for another year “just in case”. February 25th I went to Cleveland Clinic’s main campus to have my port removed.

Dave, Jenn and I arrived at the hospital the morning of the 25th. I was a little anxious, but was looking more forward to having the port removed than being afraid of the procedure. Jenny made the wise suggestion to put Lydocaine on my arm for the IV insertion. And with the courage of Lydocaine on my arm, I was only a little anxious when it came time for the big stick. The Lydocaine worked famously! Shortly after the IV was inserted, the nurse and I walked into the surgery room together. She had me lay down on a narrow table then she, and some other nurses, began bustling around the operating room. One nurse brought over an x-ray machine and took an x-ray of my chest and neck where the port was. It was really neat to see the port and the catheter threaded up through my veins in my neck and back down again. After taking the x-ray a nurse begin to scrub down the area surrounding my port with some sort of dark solution.

The doctor had met with us before going into surgery to discuss the procedure with us and the risks involved. The biggest risk was the catheter breaking while removing it and introducing air into my bloodstream. Dr. Gill came into the surgery room shortly after the nurses finished prepping and draping me and had the nurses then give me something to make me groggy. They injected my IV with something, and then continued preparing things to begin surgery. Someone began numbing me, saying “You’re going to feel a stick…and burn”. At one point I reached up to scratch my face and a nurse peeked around the drape and told me to not move. I looked at her and smiled. She said “Oh my, there you are with your eyes wide open!” Then I heard, “we’re giving you something to make you comfortable”. I slept after that awaking later to feeling tugging and burning. I spoke out loud that I felt it and I think I startled everyone in the room. The doctor said to the nurses, “give her more” then he began telling me “you’re going to feel a stick…then burn” as he began numbing me more. Later I began to wake up as they were finishing up the procedure. They injected me with an antibiotic and immediately I began to itch. I asked the nurse if it was ok to scratch now and she said yes, so I started scratching my face, then my head, then my neck….argh! I was very itchy! The nurse noticed right away that I was breaking out in hives, so they informed me they were going to give me Benadryl to combat the allergic reaction I was having.

I don’t remember anything more in the surgery room and woke up in the recovery room where a nurse immediately offered me something to eat. With a ham sandwich in hand, I took a bite and remembered it tasted good. I woke up a little later with the sandwich still in my hand and laying on my chest. Dave and Jenn had come in at one point to see me, but I was still so out of it that they left again. Apparently, the nurses told them about the allergic reaction and how the medicine would make me sleep for awhile longer. They were also going to keep me for a couple of more hours to monitor me for anymore reactions.

I am free from the port and very happy I had it removed. I pray I never have to have one again, but even if I do, I would remove it again immediately. I have a thick pink scar where the port once was and it is still tender, but I can now wear most of my clothes again without fear of grossing someone out. My cousin Robin suggested we have a port removal party…would that be a port-a-party?

My hair is coming back in dark and curly, albeit still thin, but I thank God daily that I have hair and ask him to give me the wisdom to be able to work with what I have. It’s been a month now since I wore a hat, scarf or a wig and everyone who sees me is thrilled to see my hair again. Thank you all for continuing to keep me in your prayers. Sam. 7:28 O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.


  1. Dear Mindy,
    What a blessing to wake up to your Port A Party letter this morning. When I look back it seems like this all started yesterday, and here it is a year later. However, I'm sure the year seemed like a WHOLE year to you. Anyway, now it is time to move forward and live you life to the fullest and enjoy Gods creation which is all around us. May you have a blessed day today and all the days ahead. Am looking forward to seeing you in July. Love you, Mom

  2. I am glad you have it out. I also pray and believe for no need of a new one. Onward and upward from here Laurie

  3. Mindy,

    So glad that the port is out and you can move on! Your positive, Godly perspective in every little detail is so encouraging. We continue to pray for you! Love and miss ya bunches!


  4. Hello, sweet friend.....

    I am so glad you stopped by today. Thank you for sharing your heart so transparently as you battle. I am so glad about your hair. Please know I am praying for you, friend!

    I would love to send you a copy of my talk. Would you like me to email it to you? I was going to copy and paste it in a facebook message, but it is LONG! :) Just send over an email and I would be happy to share it with you.

    You are a blessing and an inspiration, sweet sister!