Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In the Jugular!

It has been a long time since I've been active here.  I really should work on that.  Today I had a procedure to install a port that will make blood draws and IVIG much easier. (And much less painful!)  During my November infusion, the infusion nurses told me that it was time to consider a port as soon as possible.  My veins were getting more difficult to access, and the damage to the veins made IV placement more painful.  By the end of my three day set of infusions, I would be bruised, very sore, and without any good IV sites left. Having a nurse look at my feet and shoulders for an IV site was all the convincing that I needed.

I thought that getting a port might be an issue because of the pregnancy.  When I told my neurologist's assistant that a port had been recommended by the nurses, the assistant said "okay, let's get you scheduled." Considering that it wasn't really urgent, it was the holiday season, and that neurology doesn't normally order ports, things moved pretty quickly.  I had a surgery date scheduled, and we went from there. Well-meaning friends and family have asked if it was a good idea, if it was safe, or if it could wait.  Every medical professional I have spoken to about the port said that it couldn't wait.  They need good access to my veins, especially with me being pregnant. The risks of the procedure are outweighed by the benefits of having easy access to my veins for treatment and in case of emergencies.

The thought of having a surgical site near my face made me a little nervous.  I am claustrophobic, and the idea of drapes over my face freaked me out.  Luckily, I would be given conscious sedation to help with the nerves.  Since I don't need chemo or radiation (the most common reason for a port), the radiologist chose a Vaxcel port with valve by Navilyst.  I was draped, scrubbed, and had a local anesthetic injected into my chest and around the Jugular vein.  The interventional radiologist made an incision above the Jugular, and in my chest wall.  The catheter was run through the Internal Jugular, and down towards my heart. Through the incision in my chest, they made a pocket and sewed the port in place.  The port was connected to the catheter, the catheter was flushed to test function, and the incisions were closed up.  Unfortunately, my muscle tissue is very tough from having Stiff Person Syndrome, so I kept feeling pinching as the radiologist worked.  They did their best to numb me and finish up as quickly as possible.

Vaxcel Port Positioning

After they got a chest x-ray to verify placement (with my belly shielded well), I was brought back into the nurse's office to meet up with Adam.  The radiology nurse gave me some grape juice to get my blood sugar up, and talked with us about caring for the incisions and port.  I'll have to have the port flushed when I go in for my infusions every five weeks, or once every four weeks if it isn't being used.  I'm covered up with gauze and Tegaderm, so I haven't seen what things look like yet.  I'm interested to see how much of the port is visible under the skin.  I was told to expect some pretty colorful bruising for awhile.  Oh, and I can't shower for at least two days. After that, I'm supposed to cover the Tegaderm with plastic wrap until the incision heals.  If anyone can figure that out logistically, please let me know.  I have no clue how I could manage to pull that off. Sounds like sponge baths and a trip to the hairdresser for a wash or two.

Once we got out of the imaging center, it was time for food.  Fasting for that long stinks normally, but it is rough being pregnant.  We ended up at Fuddruckers to feast on what had to have been the best burger ever.  I'm currently propped up in bed, watching crummy daytime television.  So far the lower dose of Vicodin is making the pain manageable.  I'm crossing my fingers and praying that it is tolerable tomorrow, when the bruising should show up. 

All in all, I'm happy.  Dealing with literal pain in the neck for a few days is better than dealing with stick after stick in my hands.  (And soon, who knows where else.) 


  1. Wow girl - so glad you're happy, but such a lot. As for plastic wrap, I swear by the waterproof bandages. I used them with my tumor surgery and for Jay with his rotater cuff surgery. The only downside for me was I discovered I have an allergy to the adhesive. *sigh*

  2. I allergic to most adhesives, too. Even EKG adhesive makes me break out in a rash. I can handle the Tegaderm, but I've never had it in one place for so long.

  3. Wow! What a day you had. I am so happy you are almost through that hoop!

    I had a mental image when you were soliciting suggestions in regard to the plastic wrap. I envisioned that awesome part in Fried Green Tomatos :-)

    Take care my dear!


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