My Battle with Breast Cancer

Ouch – My PowerPort Experience

Powerport
(Photo from bardaccess.com)

Well, I'm one step closer to chemo. 

I don't even know how to start this post.

I will say that I thought this surgery was going to be a breeze.  It was not.

But…

It's over, and I am recovering.  Sore, but recovering.  

Let me tell you about the port. 

It is a Bard PowerPort Implantable Port.

I'm wondering how many implantable devices one person can have.  I have two, so far.

Anyway, the PowerPort is a small device about the size of a quarter that is used to carry medicines into the bloodstream.  It is placed under the skin, and in my case it is in my chest.  I port connects to a catheter, and they catheter goes into a large central vein (jugular in my case) that takes blood to the heart.  There are three bumps on top of the port that tells the nurses that my port can receive power injections.  I'm not sure what a "power injection" is, but I am sure I will find out soon enough.  The bumps also outline the area where the special needle will go.

The needle is called a Huber needle.  Let me tell you something, I don't like needles.  I don't care what kind of needle it is, I don't like it. 

When I came out of surgery yesterday I was in quite a bit of pain.  I didn't expect to have pain.  I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but the pain medicine that they gave me wasn't working fast enough.  We were told that it should work in about thirty minutes.  Forty-five minutes later I was still in pain, and I was near tears.  McD was beside himself, and that is not a good thing.  One of the little volunteers that pushed me to the vehicle in a wheel chair said, "He looked like a really mad drill sargeant."  I'd never heard that one before, but I bet he did.  A few minutes later here came the nurse with a syringe.  I just thought she would put it in my IV, no biggie.  Nope, she wanted me to roll over so she could stick it in my hiney.  Ummm, NO!  I refused.  You might think that is crazy, but I hate needles.  I was already in pain, and I didn't want a sore hiney too.  It took a little while, but that nurse finally realized that when I say no I mean no. 

So, in a way I am glad I have the port but I still have to be stuck with a needle just not in a vein.  This Huber needle looks pretty big, and I am not looking forward to it at all.  They say it will get better with time, but I will believe it when I feel it.  Especially since I just read that the needle sizes are 19 gauge, 20 gauge, and 22 gauge.  Have you ever seen one of those needles?  Just Google it.  I dare ya.  I don't even want to think about it. 

I wanted to have a photo of my incisions, but I don't have one right now.  I will ask McD to take one for me a little later, right now he is mopping the floors.  🙂

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see my new do.  Tomorrow I am cutting off all of my hair, well that is an exaggeration.  I am getting a really short do, and will probably look a little like Gloria Beckham when I walk out of Sondra's tomorrow. :)  I have a friend coming to take photos, so be here tomorrow evening to see me and my new do. 

Thursday I have a very special post going up.  I am going to be writing it soon, but I start chemo Thursday and I am going to need some button mashers.  You'll see what I mean. 🙂

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26 Comments

  • Reply Evelyn June 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    You will come to love your port, especially since you hate needles so much. So much better than the needle in the vein in your arm. I am surprised at the amount of pain you said that you have; mine was pretty minimal. I started chemo the next day. That was weird, I thought, but the way the ball bounced. They put some freezing stuff on the skin now; didn’t have that when I first started but since I have it flushed every 6 weeks now, I have started using it once in awhile. It helps a lot. Wishing you a trouble-free journey through this next stage….

  • Reply Stefanie June 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Oh my goodness. I have a hate for needles also. I can’t wait to see how cute you will look with short hair. Keeping you in my prayers. Love ya’

  • Reply Beth Zimmerman June 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Boy do I share your dislike of needles. Continuing to pray for you. McD sounds like a keeper! Love ya!

  • Reply Swampwitch June 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Sorry about the pain with your port, but I’m glad you have it. I wish I had had one because of how many times I had to be stuck. Now, when I have to be stuck for whatever reason, it’s so hard for the tech to find a vein !
    Can’t wait to see your new do !

  • Reply Julie June 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Re: TypePad: [Another Chance Ranch] Evelyn submitted a comment on "Ouch – My PowerPort Experience "
    Evelyn, I’m not sure why it was so painful for me but it wasn’t the breeze I thought it was going to be.  I am fine today, my neck is a little sore and stiff.  I’m not sure how they had me contorted on the table, but I had muscle spasms in my back most of the day yesterday.  Very strange.  The doctor told us about a guy that had treatment the same day his port was implanted as well.  I am glad I didn’t have it done that same day.

  • Reply Farmer Gal June 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. It is a lot to take! Cast your worries on the Lord, Julie… He will walk you through this! He knows every hair on your head… Long or short!

  • Reply Bush Babe June 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I think you will look gorgeous with short hair. You have that kind of face – you can wear anything. Hope everything settles down for you soon and the port does the needle-relieving work it is supposed to… (I know they still need them but not trying to find a vein each time).
    Big hugs
    BB

  • Reply Sayre June 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I’m sorry that hurt so much. From what I gather, having the port is a blessing, but implantation is not always a breeze. Glad it’s a little better now. I will make a note to say an extra prayer for you on Thursday.
    Can’t wait to see your new do!

  • Reply Teri June 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Sorry you had to go through that.
    Can’t wait to see your new do. I agree with BB, you’re going to look fabulous
    Big Hug and lots of good healing thoughts being sent your way.

  • Reply Evelyn June 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    my surgeon wanted 24 hours for healing purposes and he got his way; thank goodness! Invest in a physical therapist who believes in massage therapy; your cancer dr can write a script for insurance purposes; it has been the best investment I have ever made for this disease. I still go; I got lymphedema from a papercut. I had forgotten about the contortion until you mentioned it; yep; I had that; LOL; amazing what we can forget!

  • Reply Steph S June 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Julie,
    Sorry to hear you were in so much pain. I understand the hatred of needles. I can’t stand them! You and your husband are in my daily prayers.

  • Reply Laura L. June 22, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I can totally see McD as a drill sargent! If he gave me that look I would probably pee my pants. He is very intimidating. I am so glad you have him by your side as you go through this. I’m so sorry it hurt!

  • Reply Jen June 22, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Can’t wait to see the new hairdo! So sorry for the pain, Julie. Prayers are with you.

  • Reply Muddah June 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Praying for you and McD, Julie. And I agree with everyone who thinks you will look cute as a bug with short hair!

  • Reply Melanie June 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Hey – I get goosebumps everytime I read one of your posts. I’m so happy that you’re blogging about all of this. I wish I had been as clear-headed as you are and processed all my stuff this way. In a way, I’m re-living parts of my treatment through you and your posts……and it’s fine…..in a weird way I feel a kinship with others who have gone through what I have.
    I had the same power port that you do. I really loved having my port. It was so comfortable (compared to the alternatives), you can shower easily with it. I felt very near to normal with my port in that I didn’t have any tubes hanging out (there’s one port where there’s an external tube and it takes extra care when bathing, etc.). I didn’t have to get stuck in a vein everytime I had chemo. It’s easier to go to the bathroom during your chemo treatments with a power port (and you will need to go to the bathroom during chemo treatments b/c of the fluids you’re receiving). If you had to get your chemo through your hand or arm, you can’t wash your hands very easily, etc. Anyway. I’m a fan of the power port. The stick to access it is not bad. You only feel it initially and then it’s completely comfortable. OK….enough for now. Hang in there.
    PS I cut my hair short before chemo too. It was still very hard to lose my hair (and I’m not a vain or ‘fixy’ person). But, you have the very best attitude possible and you’ll be fine. Plus, you have tremendous support from places you can’t even imagine.
    HUGS!!! Melanie

  • Reply Amy @ Living Locurto June 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I’ve been praying for you! Sorry you had so much pain. You have a great support system here. We’ll be thinking of you:-)

  • Reply Jan June 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    On occasion (b/c we are a small rural hospital) we get a patient in w/ a port. They all say it’s better than being stuck so often. And accessing it is easy and the needle is small. Sorry for your pain! Post those hair pics girl! My hair is long right now, but I’ve gone back and forth so many times. Have had it so short I couldn’t even get a small curling iron around it…Loved it! You’ll look great!

  • Reply Mary in Idaho June 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    PRAYING

  • Reply Kate in VA June 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I went through chemo for bc last summer. I would say to myself, “by next summer this will be over, and I will have my hair and my life back!” Time passes so quickly and before you know it, it will be your next summer! It’s amazing what we can go through. Your honest sharing of your story is going to help a lot of women through a scary time. P.S. Everyone says my short hair is cute. I say, don’t get used to it! Peace

  • Reply Sheila from Ohio June 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Julie, Sorry to hear about all the pain that you experienced. You are in my prayers daily. From reading your blog; I have to say that you are very courageous. I appreciate how open you have been since finding out about your illness. Can’t wait to see your new “do”. I am sure you will look fabulous! Hugs….

  • Reply Christy June 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Julie, I’m so sorry to hear you had a rough time with this surgery. Hopefully you are feeling much better and don’t have pain from it on top of the chemo!
    Thank you so much for blogging about your experiences! I’m currently in nursing school and reading your blog is a huge inspiration and helps keep me going when the workload seems overwhelming. I wear a pink ribbon badge clip every day to remind me of you and your fight. You are a tough cookie and cancer doesn’t stand a chance!
    Sending hugs and prayers from Colorado!!

  • Reply Pamela June 23, 2011 at 12:37 am

    needles are not my forte. I’m not going to look at them.. no way.

  • Reply Kathy June 23, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Julie, I also had a port, mine was a little different than yours, but I was very thankful that for it. I used it for my 6 chemo treatments and also had Herceptin every 3 weeks for 1 year. I just had it removed in March when I finished the Herceptin – I was happy to have it, but happier to get it out !
    You have just started a long journey but if you keep taking one step at a time, you will get there. keep going, you can do it !

  • Reply Brittney - Our Greener Acres June 23, 2011 at 8:46 am

    All I can say is WOW! I can’t believe they use a needle so big. My husband uses an 18-gauge needle on the cattle and those things are huge! I know where you’re coming from on shots in the hiney; I really hate those, too. You and McD are in my prayers.

  • Reply debby June 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Having the port installed was painful. I remember the very first time that I’d healed enough so that as I was sudsing up for the first time, I touched it, inadvertantly. I almost fainted when I felt this ‘big’ lump. I thought that I’d found a new cancer. (I’d found my first lump in the shower as well, so this was a real deja vu.)
    Tim hates needles and he had to leave when they accessed the port. It made him ill, but for some reason, he’d made up his mind to be with me when they removed the port, under local anaesthetic, in the doctor’s office. I was getting sick at the slurpy noises coming from the chest, and the tugging. I looked over to say something to him, and he was looking down. The top of his head was (not joking…) green. I said, “Tim are you okay?” And everything stopped while they took care of my fainting husband. He felt so bad.

  • Reply jojo August 23, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Hello all, been reading this blog and comments with great interest. I am sorry for your pain and since this was from several years ago I’m wondering how you managed with your PowerPort.
    Today was my first infusion and though the EMLA creme helped, I am infusing daily so I was kept accessed – and let me tell you, the surgery and the post-surgery were a breeze compared to this. I hate needles too and switched to a 24G one, I’m petite so that part was ok. The needle stuck in me for the next 6-9 mths (ie: I’ll be accessed all the time) will be torture. I sure hope it gets better! Do post an update (in case I missed it!).
    Oh btw – I’m getting IV antibiotics for Lyme disease. Sucks.

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