After my first attempt at chemo on November 5th, and after my heart fluttering in between funky arrythmias, the nursing staff decided that I was having too much symptomology from cardiac to “bubbling sensations” in my chest so my chemo was immediately cancelled. Thankfully, they had about an hour and a half of pre-chemo drugs from different nausea medications, flushes of saline, to steroids to help with symptoms post chemo. I was scheduled for a port reconstruction at West Penn hospital in Pittsburgh for the following Monday November 9th and if all goes well they’d be able to start my chemo the following day!
I was scheduled for a very early time slot on Monday, we had to be at the hospital at 6:45am after a long Sunday night of John and his friends renovating our main bathroom (that’s for another rant!) I am sooo very lucky at this time to have my mom be here in Pittsburgh after a sudden change in her work place, and my sister Samii was still in from LA! We are incredibly thankful for John’s employer and union hall to be so understanding because having him at all these appointments, consultations, surgeries and treatments is so important! It does really mean a lot.
Okay enough of the sappy stuff! So, we left our house around 6ish and made it to the hospital with time to spare for check-in. Now, side note: I’ve never been to this hospital for anything other than an MRI on my leg in April when I had issues with insurance etc… In the back of my mind I didn’t have the highest of expectations, but all of my doctors float between the big and small hospitals of the system… So it should be fine, right!
We follow the directions that the secretary gave me to the short stay surgery waiting room. There was a small desk along a back wall with a hand written letter for directions on what to do. This is my biggest petpeeve working in a hospital! 1. Pay for a staff member or have a volunteer greet people that are coming for surgery, 2. Get with the times… Use a system that is organized so things stay on time! 3. Gosh can’t you at least provide recliners or couches in a waiting room… Sorry your old grannies left over hard wooden rockers and hard back chairs aren’t the comfiest to get some shut eye when you make me show up at 6:45 am! Grrrrr.
So, I sign-in, then of course I have to go to the bathroom… Oh guess what! Another hand written sign on the door that says “please go to the nursing station and request the key”. Come on now, is this a 7-11 gas station?! Needless to say… I did not get the warm and fuzzys from this place. We all ended up sitting in the middle of the room at a round table with hard back chairs, john pulled his hat over his eyes and passed out, Samii was curled up in a ball with her head on the table… And I just wanted my name to be called already! 8:00 am rolls around and finally they call me back to get checked in. This woman comes in, calls my name, and brings me to her office to obviously take my insurance and copay then escorts me back to the waiting room saying the nurse will come to get me for my intake and vitals.
Another hour goes by and I lift my head off the table, my sister and John are passed out, my mom’s ready and the place is empty! Why haven’t I been called yet! Finally a young woman comes in and says “Is there a Meghan here?” My response didn’t come out so kindly after waiting for 3 hours “finally!”. She responds “oh we’ve been trying to find you, the doctor came in looking for a girl in gold pants”. To which my response was “well I haven’t moved from this table all morning, perhaps you guys need a better system!” This is going to be fun!
She took me back, did my vitals, then escorted my family and I back to a hospital room awaiting my IV placement and meeting with the radiologist. The nurse came in friendly with a smile… But things drastically changed when she couldnt get my IV inserted and had to call for the “IV team”. Grrrrrr…
The friendy radiologist walked in and finally set some of my fears aside because he atleast came off as he knew what he was talking about. He explained the different between surgeons perspectives to port placements and radiologists approach and nothing was wrong with the technique of my original port, it just didn’t work for my body.
So what initially went wrong? My port was placed subclavicularly and the tail of the port ended up migrating into the ventricle of my heart. When the medicines were pushed through my heart reacted with an irregular heart rate and we still don’t know that the bubbling sensation was that I felt in my chest. SOLUTION: to either replace the entire port, or because my radiologist was so fantastic… He was able to shift it just enough to be out of my ventricle and trim the tip of the port so I can take it home as a souvenir!;)
The procedure all together took maybe 20 minutes, which was kind of annoying considering I waited like 3 hours in the waiting room! But the radiologist was absolutely fabulous, he had very comforting bed side manner, and most importantly, was educated and able to describe things to me in a more professional manner being that I am in the medical field, so I guess it’s easy to forgive them;)
They placed me only under twilight anesthesia so basically I talked to the surgeon during the whole procedure. I guess the “twilight” part worked because nothing ever hurt too badly… I mean I felt pressure where he was working but that was to be expected when their taking a line out of my heart! They drapped a paper sheet over me, which was a little weird because it was like i was a dead corpse. It was a little odd to me, maybe because I’ve always been totally out under anesthesia… I kept like coughing and making noises so they knew I was alive! Hahaha! The radiologist finally came over and pulled the sheet off my face and pulled it higher up atleast to be a sort of tent. I was instructed to keep my head turned to the right (opposite of my port) through the entire procedure, so that is what I did.
Through the procedure, the radiologist was talking me through the what he was doing but also about my job and his wife who is a physical therapist. It was so comforting to have a doctor working on me where I wasn’t just “the girl with the port”, “surgery 3”, or “26 year old with breast cancer”. He made me feel like the person I am which made me feel good! After I was all glued up, he showed me the radiology and said it was “perfect placement”. Thank GOD! Once they removed the surgical tent off of my very lively body;) the radiologist actually wheeled a computer in and went onto my blog! I told him i’d give him a shout out so here it is! Thank you so much Dr. ______ for not only giving me a perfectly working port, but making me feel special and much more than just another patient! You truly are one of those people that I am soooo very grateful to have met, stay true to you and keep healing!:)
They transported me back to my room as I was sitting upright on the gernet, i jumped up showing off my new souvenier that they gave me! In a sealed cup laid the tip of my port that migrated into my ventricle and caused me a whole bunch of issues that first day of chemo. Some people may think its weird I asked for it… But I think it is sooo cool! One day itll be something I can pull out to my kids and tell them all about how I kicked cancers butt and this thing was inside of me! Hahaha. Oh well, i think its cool.
I was cleared to start chemo the following day. That night I had a lot of burning pain along my incision, with a little bit of CBD run and tylenol, i slept on my back and prepared for chemo the following day.
Hopefully no more hiccups for a while… Sparkle on✨