Shrinkage – Part 2

January 22, 2019. It was another very long day.

PART 2. Before my appointment with Rugo had ended, we needed to ask about one more thing, and Steve brought it up, “Is it time we talk about a port?”

And so we did. Since I’m “all in” now, and I fully expect to complete 12 hits of this stuff, a port just makes sense. Not only would I receive my infusion through this port, my weekly bloodwork would also be drawn from it. No more poking at a minimum of two times a visit. We agree to getting it scheduled. February 5 at 10:30 a.m. It’s an outpatient procedure where they put you in that twilight place while they “implant this port under your skin that is about 1/2″ thick and about the size of a quarter. You can feel its raised center under your skin. A flexible piece of tubing (catheter) is connected to it. This is tunneled under the skin to an area near the neck where it enters a vein. —per Endovascular Radiology Associates, Inc.” Having the port will make it easier for the chemo nurses and me, especially as good veins get harder to find. It freaks me out a little.

Rugo’s scheduler Em will get me all set up, because once it’s in place, I will need to have a chemo nurse do my weekly blood draw, and that requires appointments. Em is a master scheduler and likely a whiz at puzzles, too.

Chemo. We head on up to the 5th Floor for the infusion. We are nearly an hour and a half late, but within a few minutes my chemo nurse for the day Lisa calls us in. We follow her to an infusion room that has 4 stations. One is occupied and we choose the chair closest to the window. It is a beautiful day in the City and the sun streaming in through the windows is delicious. I get settled in and Steve takes the opportunity to get a bite to eat.

Lisa tells me she has worked at UCSF since 1990. I feel like I’m in good hands.

By the time Steve gets back I’ve had all the pre-meds. I show him that I’m getting a little rash above the IV line and it burns a little. We tell Lisa and she thinks the best bet is to relocate the IV. We agree. Poke #2: As hard as she tries to find a vein that will work, her attempt is unsuccessful. Poke #3: Lisa calls in another nurse Carolyn who tries to find a good vein, but the one she chooses doesn’t work. She tells me she is going to try another location. Poke #4: She thinks she has found a nice, plump vein, but she hits a valve and can’t push the needle through. Each nurse is allowed two attempts, so now Nurse Emily is brought in. Poke #5: Success! The vein she used is on the back of my forearm below the elbow, and she placed it high enough that they can use a location below it for my next infusion. Right now, I am thinking deciding to get a port was the best decision of the day. We finish up with the Taxol and Carbo and finally leave for home around 8 p.m. We are both exhausted.

Home is the nicest word there is. —Laura Ingalls Wilder