Today was a very special day for me and my family. Today was the day that my port was removed! Those who have dealt with a port themselves, or had a family member with a port, will understand the significance of having it removed. Many patients will leave their port in for a year, or more, after chemo. It is a decision that each individual makes along with their oncologist. A couple of months ago, my oncologist told me that I could get rid of the port. At the time, I had not yet had this most recent surgery. My main focus was to get this surgery done and then deal with the port.
A few days after my surgery, I was at the oncologist for a checkup and to have my port flushed. I decided enough was enough and it was time to have the port taken out. After all, what was the point of having it anymore? I have absolutely NO intention of needing chemotherapy again.
I made the appointment, had my bloodwork done and, well, kept my mouth shut. For a change. I told Mitch I thought it would be a nice surprise for everyone. That we should not tell anyone in advance. Maybe we would tell the kids that morning. Or maybe not.
In the days leading up to today it was business as usual. Kids off to school, laundry, shopping, homework, etc.
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Molly and I went with friends to see The Sound of Music at the Paper Mill Playhouse right down the road in Millburn. We sat in awe watching these wonderful performers in exquisite costumes on a stage with beautiful sets. It was magical. I remember fondly watching it on TV every year with my mother. I hope Molly and I will continue the tradition.
On Monday, I saw the radiation oncologist. Pretty much the only skin I have left from radiation is under my arm. That skin has healed well. The doctor knew that the expander and skin had been removed in May. She didn’t know that I had surgery in October so she was pleasantly surprised to see that I am on my way to being totally back together. She cleared me for six more months and told me that if all goes well, that would be my last appointment with her! Yay!
On Tuesday I went to the oncologist to have blood drawn for the port removal and to pick up my prescription. All it said was: port removal.
I have to say it was nice to be able to tell them to remove all my future port flush appointments :)
On Wednesday, Mitch and I went out to dinner to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary (which was on Thursday) and then watched our nephew play basketball. It was a great night (although not great that they lost – sorry Justin).
Yesterday, I returned to work. It was so great to be able to get back to routine; I missed my little EI kids :(
This morning, I told Molly the news. I explained to Molly that this was a good thing. That the hope is to not need any more “strong medicine” and therefore there was no need for the port. That it is cause for celebration. Her response? “Finally! The day has come!”
After dropping Abe and Jack off at school, Mitch and I headed to the hospital. The plan was to check in and then go up to radiology to have the port removed. They would use a local anesthetic; I would be awake during the procedure. I was told it would be quick and not too painful.
We started in the admitting office. I gave the receptionist my name and she marked it off on her list. I noticed that next to my name in capital letters was the word SPECIAL. How nice, I thought, yes I am special. I found out later that it merely meant I was there for Special Procedures.
We went over to radiology to wait. A radiology assistant came to get me from the waiting room. She told Mitch that it would most likely take 30-45 minutes for the procedure. As we walked back to the procedure room, she told me that she would just need to get some medical history from me. I told her THAT might take 30-45 minutes. (Although seriously I am considering just having pre-printed medical history forms on me at all times just to save time)
The assistant took an image to mark the location of the port. After being in me for over a year, scar tissue forms around it making it more difficult to take out. She showed me the image on the screen. It was amazing. I was even able to see the tissue expander port. I asked if I would be able to keep the port. She told me that would not be possible because it is medical waste.
“Unless you have an incinerator in your house” she said.
“Hmmm, now that would come in handy…” I replied.
Just think how easy cleaning up would be!
I had to settle for the next best thing which was to take a picture of it.
The procedure took a little longer than expected. The doctor, who was the same one who put the port in, said that it was being stubborn. Just like me, I suppose ;)
I was awake during the procedure. The doctor injected lidocaine to numb the area. It was nice to be awake during a procedure for a change. I was able to chat with the doctor and assistants. I found out that the one assistant’s parents were from Brooklyn and her mom had also worked for the NYC Board of Ed. I was able to tell the doctor that the port had worked great through all of chemo and that the only time there was a problem I was pretty sure it was the nurse and not the port. We even talked sports when another doctor came in and fessed up that he is good buddies with my plastic surgeon despite the fact that he hates the Giants (gasp!).
When it was close to the time the port was ready to come out, the assistant went back out to the waiting room for me to get my iPhone from Mitch so I could take a picture. She told me she would clean up the port and leave it on the table for me. Mitch is now officially convinced that I am not only addicted to my iPhone but to blogging as well since I went to all the trouble to get this picture:
But when you have this thing in you for 17 months, you need to see it before it goes in the incinerator and is gone forever. It was a part of me and now it is not. I won’t miss it. I don’t want another one.
What I do want is to celebrate. Enjoy my piece of Carvel cake later (really, do you expect us to NOT celebrate this milestone with Carvel??). To celebrate being 11 months CANCER FREE! To look forward to Chanukah and all the gifts and family gatherings. It is going to be a GREAT one this year!!