Port Procedure

Today has been the first day since diagnosis that I have felt like an actual human! Sounds odd I’m sure, but with the amounts of tests and doctors’ visits I’ve had, lately I’d more accurately describe myself as an experiment. Not to mention undergoing invasive surgery and a minor surgery within a week of each other. Life has been so busy and chaotic physically and emotionally, so getting a day where I wake up feeling wonderful and rejuvenated is a welcomed change! I felt so great today, that my mom and I even went around town to do some shopping. We came home empty-handed, but the excursion itself was such a treat for me.

Not only is a day like today a treat, but considering its only a day after my port placement procedure, it’s a true blessing. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since diagnosis has been that plans can no longer be “set in stone”.  You just can’t do it. Well, let me rephrase: the only definite planning that my life contains now is planning for treatment. It’s number one. But as far as planning anything even as minor as running to the grocery store or the bank, it’s now up in the air. Scheduling events is even more of a challenge. My days have recently consisted of resting, taking medication, speaking with doctors over the phone or in person at appointments, chatting with my out-of-state family via phone and FaceTime, and spending time with my mom, step-dad, pup, and most of all, my adored husband. Therefore, scheduling hangouts with our closest friends has proven an extreme challenge. My body gets tired at all the wrong moments, my pain kicks in right when I think I’m feeling good, and just when I think I’m getting settled into the current nest of immediate cancer news, more updates appear. This, however, will not be forever. Today has proven that. I will not always be stuck at home. I will not always be sick. I will not always be tired. I will not always be in pain. I will not. I refuse. That’s not how I’m going to live my life. It’s an oxymoron in itself: living life tired? Doesn’t sound like really living to me. It’s not only a good lesson to those of us affected with cancer, but also to everyone, no matter the circumstance.

As most know, I was at the hospital again yesterday. The occasion this time was to receive my port. It’s actually referred to as a “power port”, and that in itself makes me feel powerful. Assuming most of you are like me (pre-diagnosis), cancer terms are not in your vocabulary. So, let me explain. I was given a pamphlet that informs me all about my port, so I will be quoting directly from it. “Your Bard PowerPort device is a small device (about the size of a quarter) used to carry medicine into the bloodstream. It has one or two small basins that are sealed with a soft silicone top, called a septum. The port is placed under the skin on your chest or arm. The port connects to a small, soft tube called a catheter. The catheter is placed inside one of the large central veins that take blood to your heart. When a special needle is put into the septum, it creates ‘access’ to your bloodstream. Medicine and fluids can be given through the needle and blood samples can be withdrawn.” I’ve included a couple of pictures, to better illustrate my device. In case you are wondering, yes my port is purple. It’s actually more of a fuchsia purple in person, but regardless. Those who know me, know that girly is my thing. If I’m having a device implanted in my skin, it better be a girly color.
The procedure itself was only 8 minutes long. That was shocking to me. 8 minutes to implant a device under my skin? Seems a little rushed, don’t you think Doc? (Apparently, that’s why I’m a patient and not a doctor…) I checked into the hospital at 11am, and was not allowed any food past midnight. I, however, could take my prescribed medicine and drink water up until check-in. No big deal right? Wrong. My last dose of pain meds was at 8am the morning of my procedure. Check in was at 11am and the surgery didn’t begin until 2pm. That’s more than 6 hours since my last dose. That’s 3 hours past my scheduled dose, therefore, I was in the most pain I had been in since my hysterectomy. It was excruciating. By the time I was hooked up to my IV, wheeled into the operating room, and told to shimmy onto the operating table I was nearly in tears. I’ve been on a very scheduled pain management regimen, so I hadn’t had much time to experience the depth of pain that my hysterectomy surgery was causing me. This lack of medicinal intervention quickly put the pain on the forefront of my mind.

Once I got onto the operating table, and the nurses prepped me for surgery, my lovely pain management nurse asked me if I had ever had a margarita. Why, yes I’ve had a margarita, Nurse! Why would you ask me such a question before I am to be cut open; interesting conversation starter, don’t you think? She soon informed me that she would be giving me the equivalent of 2 margaritas through my IV. Oh, joy! This is going to be fun. I was given what is called “conscious sedation”, which means I am awake and alert throughout the entirety of the procedure. This frightened me greatly before surgery, but 2 margaritas in, I was fine with it. They placed what appeared to me like a small blue tarp over my face, and I was told to look to my left. They inserted a numbing injection to my right collarbone area, which took effect pretty quickly. Then my doctor walked in, whom I met in pre-op, and he quickly began the implantation. Not only did he start the procedure, but he also started up conversation with me. What a nice guy. Just another nice doctor in my cancer adventure. It’s been amazing. We talked about how long I had lived in Denver, but mostly about my immense love for my husband. How we met. How long we had been together. How I knew by our second date that I wanted to marry him. Friends, I deeply adore my husband. This wasn’t just the margaritas talking. He is my best friend, my encourager, my lover, my rock, my support, my personal comedian, my teammate, and my heart. Pretty soon, I was interrupted and told that I was done. My surgery was complete. What? Dang, that was quick!

This surgery did not hurt at all. It wasn’t even uncomfortable. Thus far, this has been one of the easiest things I have undergone since diagnosis. I merely felt pressure in the area in which my doctor was pushing my port and catheter under my skin. What a relief! Praise God for allowing some of these procedures to be easy! What I’m realizing, the deeper and deeper I get into treatment, is that the peace and grace of God is all I need. Not to say that I don’t get nervous, anxious, and afraid before all treatments (that’s my flesh, folks), but my spirit is continually drenched in the calm of Jesus. He has gone before me on this one. Just like everything before. He has always been here for me, and He will never leave me. He has my back. He has scouted the road ahead to make sure I can handle it. And, even though at times I don’t think I can, with God all things are possible. I will conquer this battle. But, ultimately it’s not just me. It’s Him. He is ever-working through me to fight this enemy. He will succeed. He has promised me that. Hallelujah.

Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

6 Comments on Port Procedure

  1. Ginger
    February 18, 2012 at 9:45 PM (9 years ago)

    Dear Stephanie
    you are such a gifted writer; and it helps me pray for you (not that I need help, you are always on my mind).
    I guess I had it all (well partlyl) wrong – I had it in my mind that you were cutting my hair and you told me that you had just had a date and that you knew after that first date that ‘he was the one’. turned out to be prophetic – even if it was only after the second date! Such a delight to see your love for each other; thank you for allowing yourselves to be a great example for us all during trials.
    love you very much,

  2. Lily Chen
    February 19, 2012 at 1:42 AM (9 years ago)

    You are so stunningly beautiful Stephanie, both inside and out!!! Thank you for allowing me to share this special journey with you and thank you for allowing me to witness what an awesome God we serve. Love you beyond words can describe. It’s a privilege and honor to know both you and your mom.

  3. Christina Houston
    February 19, 2012 at 10:31 AM (9 years ago)

    As I read your posts, I cry every time. But I think it’s because your faith and love of God is so inspiring! You truly are amazing!

  4. Amy Anderson
    February 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM (9 years ago)

    Stephanie, two surgeries in less than two weeks — I think you’re the only person who can show off their new port and look SO gorgeous!! I’m glad you and you’re mom had a relaxing day out, sending you lots of love this week!

  5. Joy
    February 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM (9 years ago)

    Prayed for a pretty port and you got purple! :) you’re fighting a good fight! The lord is your strength and peace!

  6. Whit
    February 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM (9 years ago)

    I love this blog! I’m so glad you and Matt put it up, it’s so awesome to read this and basically hear your voice! It’s lovely ; ) Can’t wait to see you Seester


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