Countdown to Chemo: 6 Days.

I had my portacath put in yesterday. I made the mistake of looking up the procedure online beforehand, and I was quite concerned about how anesthesia would work. I knew I wasn’t going to be knocked out, but I was also skeptical that I could be awake and not want to smack someone for slicing into my neck and chest. Alas, lidocaine, fentanyl, and versed made the procedure super easy. I was aware and pretty coherent, but not at all concerned about the slicing and dicing that was happening on the other side of the curtain. I did suggest they entertain me with a puppet show, but I guess I didn’t pay for that perk.

I’d say the only hiccup was when they did my ultrasound to find the entry point, one of the nurses said “Is that a clot?” Then she looked again with another nurse, and they said “Should be fine.”

So I said “Thanks for the confidence!”

They brought the doc in to confirm that the spot was still ok. And he spoke with more certainty. Then the nurse was apologizing for saying “should.” I told her I appreciated her being thorough, and all was well.

I did get to listen to some great music as they cut into my jugular. The nurse made a playlist that started with “Brown-eyed Girl” (I mean, that was a good omen, if I’ve ever needed one), then “Tiny Dancer,” then a nostalgic Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” maybe a few others, and and it finished with “Downtown.” I was tapping my fingers as my arms were by my side, but also aware enough not to to get too carried away.

When I got to recovery, I was served a turkey sandwich that you’d serve to a preschooler: two slices of wheat bread with one piece of turkey in between. There was some lettuce on there, but it was wimpy and unappealing. Then, I got to hang out in recovery for 2hrs to make sure I didn’t spring a leak or clog the hose. Thankfully neither of those things happened!

By the time I was on my way home, the lidocaine had definitely worn off and the other two were waning quickly. A few descriptions of how I felt: like I got punched in the neck, like I could only move like Frankenstein, and like Elmer Fudd huntin wabbits…no sudden moves. I stayed pretty still in my recliner for the rest of the day, and I put off taking Tylenol until after dinner. Dinner, was a bit of a challenge. Who knew that opening your mouth wide enough to pop in a soup dumpling could cause so much pain? Pro tip: go with soft food post-procedure. I can’t say that I slept all that well. I had a little pillow that I had bought to put between my neck and shoulder. That helped a little bit. I tried hugging a pillow. That kind of worked. I took more Tylenol around 4am, and I was able to sleep pretty soundly for about 2 hrs. Then I was in and out for the next 2 hours. I’ve been awake since.

I’m defintely sore today. Not surprisingly, it feels like someone cut me on my neck and chest. At least that’s the feeling when I am still…more of a stinging. I can push through the pain when I get up and move around, but I tend to regret that when I sit back down and the pain amplifies paying me back for pushing through the pain. The other odd sensation is that my skin just feels very tight on my right shoulder. It feels like I could tear the cuts open if I reach in either direction or if I look too far to the left. I imagine all these things will subside sooner than I can think.

The good news is that this thing is going to save me some pain for the next few months. I have the worst veins. It is quite rare for a phlebotomist to be able to find a vein in my arm, and if they do it’s after several attempts. OUCH! I try to convince them to go for my hands first, but they always really want to try my arm first. Yesterday, the nurse didn’t even go for my arm for the IV. She went for my hand, but after some poking and fanning the needle in my right hand, she had to switch to my left. So yeah, I’m glad that I can rub some lidocaine on my chest, and the nurses will have a predetermined place to poke me for the many reasons I will need to be poked over the course of treatment.

What’s next? Recovery from this minor surgery the rest of this week, pre-chemo blood tests on Friday (and no, they don’t get to use the port for this yet), then my first infusion next Monday.