I do not know anyone who enjoys intravenous therapy. For those who have a fear of needles, this can be even more uncomfortable. Fluids, antibiotics and many other medications can and are given intravenously.
One such drug, Chemotherapy, can be taken as a pill, or most often through an IV catheter. The chemotherapies that I have received have all been given intravenously.
I remember the first time I saw the sign, INFUSION SUITE, where chemotherapy is given at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Milford, MA. You would of thought I would be enjoying a day at the Spa, given the phrase “suite”. I certainly would have preferred that.
In 2010, I had a axillary dissection done on my right arm. This is fancy talk for lymph node removal. After you have this procedure done, you are no longer able to have needles injected or blood pressure taken on that arm.
With the skill of my oncology nurse, I was able to get through 8 rounds of chemo with an IV on my left arm. It wasn’t easy. I have always been a hard stick (“stick” refers to injecting a needle into the patient…unfortunately a term I am all too familiar with), and required the smallest needle possible for the specific procedure that would be performed.
I recently needed to have chemo again. Oh Joy! Back to the Spa…..I mean The Infusion Suite. This time I would be receiving treatment at DFCI in Boston.
I think the nurses dreaded me over time. I was a very hard stick now because my veins were not being cooperative due to my chemo treatments in 2010. If the nurse could not get the needle in on two tries, another nurse was called in to perform the procedure. On my sixth chemo treatment, I went through 3 nurses and almost couldn’t get chemo that day because of so many sticks.
That was enough for them. They reached out to my oncologist, and asked her if I could get a port put in. It was something she and I had discussed previously, but now the time had come.
A port is medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin in your chest, or sometimes arm. A catheter connects the port to a vein. The port is put in during a minor surgical procedure. When treatment or tests are needed, a special needle is put into the top of the port. This creates access to the blood steam so that medications and fluids can be given, blood samples drawn or blood transfusions performed.
I receive CT scans and MRI’s every two to three months that require contrast solutions. I was told by the scanning technicians that I should get a Powerport. Not all ports are created equal. Only Powerports can be used during scans.
At first, it felt strange having this device inside of me. I was afraid of sleeping on it. When I was driving, the seatbelt rubbed on it, and irritated me. I was nervous doing Pilates……I sometimes still am.
Going into the lab for blood work at DFCI Boston is less stressful now. The nurses are thankful that I am an easy stick now, and I am thankful that I do not have to place my arm under hot water for a few minutes to get my veins ready for the two or more sticks.
I was somewhat hesitant about getting a Powerport at first because of some of the risks of having one, but after being repeatedly poked so many times during my 4 week treatment visits, the Poweport and I have become good friends. Thank goodness, because it will most likely remain in me for the rest of my life.