Any Port in a Shitstorm

Aka "WTF is that big lump in your chest?"

Yesterday was my port placement, and despite the bad omen of being treated by Nurse Bug Eyes again and having to wait and wait and wait for the doc, it all went off without a hitch.

They put in my IV without too much trouble, through which I got my sedation meds again--the nurse compared sedation for the procedure to having a stiff drink at a party you really don't want to be at, very apropos--and then threw a ginormous drape on me, which I should have anticipated--what with all the ER I've watched in my day--but still took me a little by surprise. Fortunately they cut a hole in the clear plastic part hanging down for air.

The whole thing was a little weird and a little emotional (more stuff to make me feel Sick) but not terribly uncomfortable (that came later). The procedure itself involves implanting a PowerPort three fingers' breadth beneath my right clavicle.

They make an incision in the skin, shove the thing underneath, and then somehow thread a thin tube up my neck, into a nick cut INTO MY JUGULAR VEIN, AND DOWN INTO MY HEART. Notify all local vampires and incubi.

The point of having a port is that it will make the chemo process that much easier on my peripheral veins (especially now that my total number of treatments is back to eight), and the benefit of having a PowerPort is that it's tough enough to handle the infusion of contrast for CT scans, of which I'll be having many before I can officially wave the "Suck it, Cancer! I'm totally over you!" flag.

The nurses and techs assisting on my procedure thanked me profusely for not divulging my alma mater until things were winding down as apparently Dr. Tardy is a YOOGE ND fan (of the subway alum variety). You never know how that one's going to go--not a lot of people taking the middle of the road opinion when it comes to them Fighting Irish.

After the port was in, they wheeled me down to Oncology back to the infusion suites. Apparently I won't be getting my bimonthly dose of poison in a big bonding circle of wigs and nausea as many other folks do. I will *so* be bringing along the porta-DVD (and incredibly comfy blanket) that my super generous angel of mercy and bridesmaid extraordinaire Jenny G. gave me. Time to get that Netflix queue cleaned up!

So I waited about an hour to see my doc, where he gave me the big "Oops!" and I countered "Count your self lucky Jody isn't here for this news" and checked in to be sure I had the energy for it and we ran over side effects of which I am pretty well versed at this point.

Then I had crappy hospital food that I actually had to pay for while waiting another three or so hours for orders to be written and chemo bags to be sent over because it wasn't like they knew I was coming or anything except THEY TOTALLY DID.

Finally, after swallowing a fistful of anti-nausea meds, they got me hooked to the infusion tower, where they had Oxaliplatin and Leucovorin. I don't know if it was the nausea pills or the length of the day, but I took a nap for a half hour or so before I had to hit the head, which is always fun when you're managing all manner of tubes and other sundry nonsense coming out of your body.

Shortly after that, the anesthetic from the port placement started to wear off and I began to whine like a leetle girl. Fortunately, because I am on pain meds at home, they were able to rustle one (and a little later, a second) up for me without too much issue.

I caught a little of Wolf Blitzer in his cozy Situation Room (I just need to sign up for golf lessons and renounce my Socialist ways and Jody's brainwashing will be complete) in between getting some shut eye. About two and a half hours later, the bags were emptied and they called in the chemo nurse to get me hooked up and oriented to my lovely parting gifts...

After every bimonthly dose of Oxi & Leuco, I get hooked up to a fanny pack that constantly infuses 5-FU over a 46 hour period. I was on another form of this stuff during my radiation treatment, but I got to take that (Xeloda) in pill form and tolerated it pretty well, so hopefully it'll be much of the same for this.

All together, this regimen is known as FOLFOX which is the gold standard of chemo care for us colorectal folks, with the exception that I don't have a Day 2 infusion of Leucovorin (from Wikipedia's description). I'm also actually getting a shortened course as it seems like the typical run is 12 treatments over 24 weeks.

I am not currently eligible for or participating in any trials that involve other complimentary drugs such as Avastin (hey Wardo!) or Erbitux (this is the one that got Martha in some stock-trading troubles).

Side effects...the most notable one is that from the Oxaliplatin, which is a cold-sensitive neuropathy. Basically I'm going to have to watch it around cold stuff. I can already feel a prickle on my tongue and at the back of my throat if I drink something cold (even barely below room temp) and I get zapped if I don't wait for the water to heat up before washing my hands. Bring on the Warm Busch Light!

Then there's the general fatigue, nausea, diarrhea nonsense...word on the street is that I probably won't lose my hair but it will probably will thin a bit. This isn't so much a problem for me as I have some to spare, but I haven't totally ruled out the possibility of having to do something drastic if it gets too patchy.

My thought on that subject is that I will indulge the impulse that many young girls have when they hack away at their Barbie's hair, an impulse that I myself never had, and only in part because I wasn't allowed to have Barbies because they perpetuated negative and absurd women's bodies, gender roles, etc. Who knew my dad was so liberated?!

First, I'll give myself long, dramatic bangs, then a Betty Page, then something totally choppy, then a mohawk. Then, I will probably cry, attack the paparazzi sitting outside my house, and run right back to the cancer center to claim my free wig. Here's to hoping they do platinum blonde and/or pink.

All that said, I'm feeling pretty good today, my appetite/energy level are hovering around the new normal, and I am on the look out for entertaining pins and badges to decorate my infernal chemo fanny pack. This is the only one I have on there thusfar (quote from Firefly), tho I might have to throw on my KEXP and Cowhugger ones if/when I find them.

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