Thursday, August 18, 2011

Treatment Day

I haven't been feeling up to blogging all week and I apologize. I felt like I had just recovered from the hospital runs and being up 20 straight hours for my dad's heart surgery then treatment day reared it's ugly head. So being run down then getting medicine that plays with your immune system was not a good combination.

I realized that not a lot of people know what treatment day entails so I thought maybe I would bring you into my world.

The morning of my treatment I apply a pain patch to my port. Because of all the port surgeries the area behind my port is very tender. My port is actually sitting on my brachial nerve which runs across your upper chest and down your arm. Every nerve in that area branches off this central nerve. So sometimes I have chest pain, arm pain, finger pain, and loss of feeling. That's just how it settled. Nothing they can do about it.

An hour before my appointment I take Benedryl because the medicine will make me itchy. It's not an allergy, just a reaction lots of people have. Then I leave for the DeQuattro Cancer Center. I have Joe or a friend drive me because I can't drive myself home.

On the way we have to stop at Dunkin Donuts so I can get my iced coffee, cream & sugar, shot of caramel syrup because Brigid runs on Dunkin. (on a side note I just saw a news report that Dunkin is lowering their coffee prices. Yay!)

When we get there we stop in the little cafe they have in the lobby. They have these really good kettle popcorn chips that I can't find anywhere else so I buy out the stock. All 3 mini bags!

Upstairs we go to the infusion area. I check in with the receptionist and she sends us back. It's a big square room with little stations all along the outside wall. In the middle of the room is the nurses station. Now I shouldn't be telling you this but the prime seating is all the way in the back on the left. (if I find you in my chair I swear I will kick your a** out) In each station you have a huge leather recliner (my chair it's all electric), a table, a guest chair, an I.V. pole, and a flat screen t.v. mounted on the wall. Between each station there is a wall so you have privacy.

So I plop down in my chair and wait. (hahaha plop so lady like) I eat my chips, I drink my coffee. A nurse comes over and takes my vitals. (yes I'm alive and ticking) She gets her supplies all ready on her cart. I recline my chair.

Now for the prep work. I take the pain patch off. The nurse rubs alcohol over my port. Then some brown stuff, maybe it's called iodine but I'm not sure. It cleans the area real well. They say they have to do that to avoid infection because they are so close to the heart. Last we have the freeze spray. Which makes me giggle. Why you ask? Because it's liquid and when they spray my port sometimes it drips into my armpit and it tickles.

And ahh yes, here comes the needle. Oh the needle. It's a one inch needle with a slant, kind of a hook, at the end. This is because the surface of the port just under my skin is rubber. The shape of the needle allows it to go through the rubber and stay and not slip out.

Here is how the port is actually placed in my body right under my skin. You basically just see a lump where the port is. Where you see the tubing end is where it enters into a major vein.

So here we go. Deep breath in, squeeze a hand, needle in, pull back on syringe, blood comes out, and we're in! Great blood return, we have access! Yay!

So next the nurse flushes the port with saline to clean out the line. Then takes blood to fill the standing blood order, and hooks me up to a bag of fluids to wait for my labs to come back. Once my labs are back we mix the meds and hook that bag up to the line too.

And there I sit for 2 hours. Sometime I talk, sometimes I sleep (they hook you up with a pillow and blanket) or watch t.v. The time really goes by fast. Sometimes it's nice that I am forced to just break away from the world for a few hours.

Once the fluids are done I'm really exhausted. The nurse comes and unhooks me. Flushes the port with heparin to avoid clots until my next treatment. Pain patch back on. Off I go, wobbling out the door with my cane.

Repeat in 3 weeks....

photo credits


  1. OK, I have to admit I love Dunkin too! They have the best holiday flavors around...mmmmm. I sure hope your med regime is kicking butt to your ra for you. You do have to go through alot with the port and all. I am very familiar with the port as my sister had one for her chemo treatments. She didn't have the problem you do though with hers. Poor you. But I am glad that your Dad's surgery seems to have gone good so far.

  2. I have a friend who has Cystic Fibrosis and she has a port, she's had it for over 15 years so it's amazing she hasn't had to have it replaced yet.

    Your treatment day sounds tiresome, but whatever it takes to try to feel better, right?

  3. Ok, neither my doc nor my infusion center has mentioned a port. Does everyone get one? That scares the bejeubs out of me.