Texas girl in the middle of Kiwiana

Amy Boatman

Home / Tags / breast cancer / Essays / You're Gonna Put That in My Chest?

You're Gonna Put That in My Chest?

When my doctor first told me that he wanted to start me on chemo he also said he wanted to have a portacath inserted in my chest. Having been a paramedic for a long time I'm familiar with portacaths. It's basically an IV port inserted in the skin so the nurses aren't constantly having to start peripheral IVs. It's easier, more sterile, and much less painful. At least once it heals.

The original appointment had been booked for August 20th but we went into level 4 lockdown on August 17th so the procedure was postponed. As soon as I heard we were going into lockdown I was really afraid they were going to postpone everything. As I mentioned in my last post the waiting is stressing me out more than the cancer so the thought of postponing the chemo indefinitely was terrifying. Fortunately, they don't postpone chemo so I had the treatment.

They called me on Wednesday and asked if I could come in on Thursday morning. Heck yeah! I said. With fucking bells on! I was psyched to be getting it done.

I had to be at the Southern Cross Hospital in Newtown at 7am. We weren't sure how long it would take to get there from Naenae so we left at 6:15am. Given we're still only in level 3 there was hardly any traffic on the road so we were at the hospital at about 6:35am. Shannon couldn't stay with me so she dropped me at the door and left.

A little past 7 the came to take me to my room. Turned out I was on a ward by myself with my own dedicated nurse. Given my cancer status they didn't want to expose me to too many people. I felt like Queen for a Day! My nurse was Jane and she was great.

She got me all checked in and into the very less than flattering hospital gown. The doc came in to tell me about the procedure and make an X on my chest and then it was time to go.

They wheeled me into the theatre in my bed and then I had to scoot from my bed to the metal surgical bed. For some reason they couldn't get it right up next to it so I had to bridge this enormous gap. Just as I got my ass on the surgical bed I let out an enormous fart because moving to the bed with my ass hanging out of the back of the gown wasn't embarrassing enough. Sheesh!

They don't make those surgical beds for comfort that's for damn sure! My ass does not allow me to lie flat but luckily I had Helen who made sure I was comfortable. She gave me a bunch of pillows and generally made sure I was doing okay.

Next came the IV which the doctor did with an ultrasound machine. I had never seen an IV done this way before. The doctor made a point of telling me the ultrasound machine was made in Denmark and he didn't really know how to use it. What a joker!

The IV in, now it was time for drugs! Given my history with drugs I'm always wary of what they're gonna give me. This wasn't a general anesthetic procedure but a sedation procedure. I remember lying on the bed with everyone bustling around. He told Helen to give me a dose of midazolam. The wall suddenly started going fuzzy and then there's a gap. At some point they put a drape over my face and shot me full of lidocaine but I don't remember any of that. At one point I remember it hurt like a hot razor so they gave me more lidocaine.

Next thing I know, they were done and were wheeling me into recovery. I had the whole room to myself. My reign as Queen continued! My lovely recovery nurse was Steph. She was pretty awesome as well. Since we're in level 3 everyone has to wear face masks so I would have no idea if I was standing in line at the grocery store with any of the wonderful people I met that day.

I wasn't in recovery long before I went back to my room where I finally got a sandwich! I hadn't eaten since dinner the night before so I was famished. That was the best egg and chutney sandwich I have ever had. And the cup of instant coffee was pretty good too.

Luckily I didn't have to stay in the hospital for long. Props to all the great staff but I'd really rather feel like shit in my own house. Shannon came popped back in to get me and I was home by 12. I had specifically asked not to be sent home with any narcotics so I was straight on to the paracetomol/ibuprofen schedule. Actually the pain hasn't been too bad. I mean, I'm not a masochist so pain isn't my thing but when you gotta deal with it then you gotta deal with it.

Here we are 2 days later and the main issue has become my skin's reaction to the adhesive on the waterproof bandages. By midday Friday I was already starting to feel the painful itch that accompanies my irritatingly sensitive skin reactions. A sore had developed where the corner of the bandage sat and the pain of that began to overwhelm the pain of the actual wound.

Last night I didn't want to sleep with nothing covering the wound and the medical tape was also causing a reaction so Shannon wrapped an ace bandage around basically my entire torso just to hold on a small rectangle of gauze. I really looked like I'd been in the war.

Today I've spent the day in nothing but my fleece so I could keep it zipped down and not have anything rubbing against the gauze. We've discovered that moleskin doesn't seem to cause a reaction so now the gauze is being held down with little strips of moleskin. Seriously who thought the main issue of this procedure would be wound dressing?!?