Medical Ports 101

It seems that at least once a week people will find out about my port or something and ask, what is it and how does it work, etc. Let me tell you!

It may sound icky and scary at first but I am so grateful for mine and in my opinion, I think it is one of the best inventions besides Zofran (nausea med). It has made my life SO much easier to get the medicines that helped kill my cancer and medicines that kept me alive. I highly recommend them to anyone who has to have lots of IV medicine, chemotherapy, etc.

Synonyms: subcutaneous port
Definition: An implanted device through which blood may be withdrawn and medicines, chemo, blood transfusions, etc are given without repeated needle sticks elsewhere. This type of port is one surgically placed under the skin. It consists of a artificial septum, a self-sealing rubber material, which the needle can pierce, and a catheter that is placed in a blood vessel, usually a vein, frequently in the upper chest, just below the collarbone. It has a small, special bent needle that is inserted and attached to a tube that can be attached to a syringe, IV bag, etc. (I've never had a needle like the one in the illustration below-now, that looks scary!)

People also want to know why do I still have mine? I have not had chemo is about 4 years. Well, because it's really my choice when to get it out and it does not limit me in anything that I do. I have had lots of random medical problems, MRIs (the contrast goes through it), blood checks and infections since then. I also have veins that are hard to stick and the port is usually 1 stick with little to no pain (they have instant numbing meds!). For example, it will come in handy tomorrow for my wisdom teeth surgery's anesthesia! One less thing to worry about.

So, that's my port and we'll see when "we" decide to part ways. Another thing, getting it out requires another surgery and a little recovery which I'm not looking forward to...

Today, I am thankful for: my port, getting my project done, friends and family.

Adios amigos!



Anonymous said...

My name is Jennifer and I am 32 years old and have had one port that was outside of the skin. I have a potassium wasting diease. My prt got severly infected and sent me into seizures and almost killed me. I am scheduled to get another port put in just like the one you had. I am a little scared due to the fact the first one had such a bad ending. But if I want my quality of life to get any better I have to have it done. Do you got any advice on how to handle what's to come in the next few weeks? Thanks, from a very frightened mom, wife, and anxious woman.

Obsessedwithlife said...

Hi Jennifer-Thanks for writing me. Since there was no other way to contact you, I hope you find this message :). I guess I have a few questions. My advice is that if you trust in your doctors, that should help your worries some. What kind of port was it? Are they putting in the same kind or a different one? How long did you have the first port because I have known many people who have had them get infected-not necessarily to the point of seizures but I know it does happen? If these are the same doctors as the first surgery, have you gotten another opinion as to whether the benefits outweigh the risks or not? What are they telling you about the risks? What has changed so that they think it is ok now and how long has it been since the seizures?

I will keep you in my prayers and hope that this can be successful for you because I know that a port can improve your life dramatically!


Anonymous said...

My name is Amanda. At 10 years old I was diagnosed with cancer and after being pocked in the arms and the hands so many times that my entire arm upto my elbow was a purplish green color (not to mention the peeling skin from lack of sunlight) my doctors finaly decided to give me dual ports (2 ports that are not conected so that they can draw blood and give IV medications at the same time or any other use ei. blood transfusions ect.) whitch were a life savor. My parents had my ports
removed after I went into remision and I have one scar across my chest from the incision to put in and remove the port. Other than that no issues people notice the scar whenever I wear anything lower than the average T-shirt but I`m proud of it. I`ve been in remission for 9 years this august and have had no complications from the poirts though havving them now would make all the blood tests and the now yearly MRI much easier. Oh and P.S. god bless numbing cream !!!

Obsessedwithlife said...

THanks for sharing Amanda!

Rebekah said...

I'm 24 and was just diagnosed with breast cancer. My oncologist wants me to get a port. The thought of it freaks me out. Although in light of everything else going on, this one concern is relatively minor. Can you feel it under the skin? Is there anything special you have to do to maintain it?
I'm very glad I found your blog, it is great to find someone that is so real that has gone through similar experiences and knows the answers to my questions. :)

Obsessedwithlife said...

Rebekah- Sometimes you can feel it under the skin-it depends where they place it and how much of a chest you have ;). I hear they are even smaller now than the ones I had...If it's an internal port, there is little care. They should do the flushing of it when you are at the doctor's office. I was able to swim, workout, etc. with mine. Feel free to email me with other questions... Rachel at obsessedwithlife (dot) com.