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Posts Tagged ‘port-a-cath removal’

I know, I know…it’s been a while. But no need to worry excessively – I’m doing okay. Just struggling a bit with motivating myself to write something.

Here’s a slightly overdue recap of recent events:

12/28/09 – I went in for an ultrasound on my right arm to see if the blood clot(s) had resolved. Thankfully, the answer was yes (no clot!). So, I got the “all clear” to have the port removed (although I still have to keep giving myself the Lovenox shot every day for a few more months as a preventative).

Later that day – Off to the cath lab for the port removal procedure. Two nurses told me it would be easy, with no sedation necessary, and nothing to worry about – so, I didn’t. Then, the doctor came in while they were prepping me and gave me a slightly more detailed version of what to expect: the procedure would take about 20 minutes, they’d give me local anesthesia to numb the area, and “most people do fine without sedation, but if you feel anything sharp, let me know…”  (What!?)  They tented my head again, as they had when I got the port installed, so I couldn’t see what they were doing, but I could feel tugging and pulling and hear the sound of clamps being used. At one point I swear it felt like the doctor put his foot on my shoulder and yanked the thing out of me. I’m sure that’s not what really happened, but it felt like it! They sewed me up and I went home. For a procedure that was supposed to be “nothing” I ended up on the couch for the next two days. I was really fatigued and it felt like someone had slugged me hard in that soft area between the shoulder and the collar bone. But I survived (once again), and the dreaded port is gone!

12/30/09 – I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Brown at four weeks after the surgery. He looked at all the wounds and said they were healing properly and he was happy with my progress. He also commented that when he saw me walk down the hall to the exam room “it didn’t look like you just got off a horse.”  I understood this to be a positive indication of how well I was doing. We discussed the things I’d been concerned about (the stoma bleeding, the wounds still seeping, the bulge on my belly just above the incision…). Everything I brought up was met with his nonchalant “that’s normal.” I’m to see him again at eight weeks after surgery.

1/8/10 – I was having a few problems with the colostomy bag, so I went to see Carla, the ostomy nurse, for a follow-up. She looked at everything and, like Dr. Brown, declared that all was well and normal for this stage of things (being less than six weeks after surgery). I talked to her about the features of the different bags I’d tried so far. There was one bag I liked everything about, except for the wafer (the part that adheres to your skin). I preferred the wafer on another bag, but it didn’t have other features I wanted. Carla looked through her enormous ostomy appliance catalog and found a bag that has the combination of things I wanted, including the “microskin” wafer I liked. I’m waiting for the new bags to arrive any day now so I can see if they’ll make dealing with this a little easier!

Staying warm while at the computer...

Other than that, I just seem to have days when I simply do not feel like doing anything. I think I’ve actually been just a little depressed – which, in Dr. Brown’s and Carla’s words, is “normal” under the circumstances. I’m still adjusting to a having a colostomy (a huge adjustment, I might add). My body is still recovering from the months of being poisoned, burned and cut open. Plus, the chemo and radiation brought on instant menopause, meaning my hormones are whacked on top of everything else. And, it’s been downright cold! So, a tiny bout of depression doesn’t seem out of line, does it?

The good news: It’s a New Year. I’m cancer-free. I’m well enough to get out and walk, drive, go to the grocery or the post office, and generally do many things I once took so much for granted. Only now, I usually remind myself how blessed I am to be able to do these simple chores of daily life. Okay, sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m silly! But, mostly, I’m just grateful for life.

Next time: Ostomy 101 (I’m giving you fair warning about the topic in case you’re squeamish…)

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Sometimes I go about with pity for myself and all the while Great Winds are carrying me across the sky.

 – Ojibway Saying (quoted from The Book of Awakening)

The days leading up to Christmas must have taken their toll on me. We purposely made just super-simple plans for Christmas Day, but even those proved to take more energy than I had. It was just Mom and Tim and me for the day, and all I planned to do was make waffles for breakfast before we sat around the tree to open our gifts. Later, we would drive to Las Vegas (New Mexico, not the glitzy one in Nevada) for dinner at the Historic Plaza Hotel and then enjoy the lights of the Victorian neighborhoods surrounding the old town before heading back home.

But the morning was a rough one for me. I decided to change the ostomy bag by myself – with no supervision from the home nurse who’s been coming weekly. I encountered some minor problems (bleeding, raw skin, etc.) and without the nurse there to reassure me that all was normal, I found myself getting more agitated by the moment. After what seemed like an inordinately long time, I finally emerged from the bathroom too exhausted to prepare breakfast. Tim took over the kitchen duties while Mom and I sat by the fire. I was also experiencing more pain from sitting on the wound on my bottom, so I wasn’t in a very festive mood as we opened our gifts.

Eventually, we bundled up and headed out for our drive to Las Vegas – me with my ever-present pillow to sit on. It was a nice, clear day and the hour drive went quickly. Dinner at the Plaza Hotel was a bit of a disappointment, but we all agreed it was more about the outing and being together than about the food. But, by the time we began the drive home, I was rapidly sliding downhill. No amount of pillows were able to make me comfortable. I got crankier and crankier squirming in the passenger seat until Tim thought to ask if I had any Percocet stashed in my purse. Hallelujah! Yes! One little pill tucked away for emergencies just like this!

As soon as we got home, I immediately took up residence on the sofa, drifting around in a bit of haze until bedtime. I tried hard to remember all that I have to be grateful for (and there is so much!), but I have to admit as I laid there on the couch I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

So, on Saturday, I finally accepted that it was time to simply rest. I spent nearly the entire day lying on the sofa reading Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel The Lacuna. It was just what this frail bag of bones needed – a finely woven tale to take me away from myself and my little world. By evening I was thankful to feel more restored than I have in a while.

Tomorrow (Monday), I will have another ultrasound to see if the blood clot that once ran from my clavicle to my elbow has finally “resolved.” If so, I’ll have the port removed from my chest at 1:00 PM. If the blood clot hasn’t dissipated enough, I may have to wait a bit longer for the port to be taken out as they don’t want to risk disturbing the clot during the port removal procedure. We’ll know more tomorrow!

On Wednesday, I have an appointment to see my surgeon, Dr. Brown. The home nurse says I will get a good report (she thinks all the wounds look like they’re healing properly). I am most interested to ask him when I’m likely to start feeling like myself again!

And, on January 14th, which will be exactly six weeks after my surgery, I’ll begin taking the Xeloda again (with faith that it will assure a healthier 2010).

My New Year’s wish for each of you is that, like me, you’ll be bowled-over to find just how deeply loved you are by so many others (without the need to become ill to learn this!), and that you’ll take full advantage of the good health you now have to live just as fully as you can dream up!

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