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Fatboy Flushes His Port – Video and Explanations

The Fatboy portYou’re in for another treat: another video post! The photo to the right – you guessed it – that’s me. Sunburn and all. I’m hiding my gut because I’m so fat! Hah, not really; that is how I stand in public with my shirt off, so it’s a good representation of how it blends in now that I’m beefing up more. It used to be super-obvious when I weighed 95lbs!

Update: 7/20/2010 – my port has all but disappeared at 135lbs. It just looks like a flesh wound instead of an alien implant.

I got my port in 2006 when my last PICC line took a radiological surgeon to thread the tube through the valves in my upper arm. Both arms were shot for access with a PICC line. I was a bloody, mad mess with 2 failed PICCs before that surgeon got one in. The doctor said that the next time I went on IVs, I was getting a central port. About 3 months later, there I was, scheduled for a twilight operation with my dad in tow to transport a heavily sedated sickboy back to his apartment.

I was pretty depressed about it. We were getting married in less than 2 months and here I was getting a big titanium bulge shoved under my skin and ended up with a less than flattering scar because they didn’t use sutures.

I was marked. Tagged. A permanent, unavoidable freak. Buy, hey, I was used to it because I’ve always had a huge scar across my gut from surgery at birth. Just one more set of people who didn’t expect me live, I suppose. Who cares what the scar is going to look like if it’s only going to be there for a few years, right?

Now that I’ve had my port for almost 4 years, I wouldn’t trade it for another PICC line for anything short of them paying me several tens of thousand dollars any time I went on IVs. I don’t need diddly to start treatments now. The meds show up at my door, Beautiful stabs me and puts the dressing on, and we start doing drugs. The only pain we have to endure is monthly flushes to keep the tubing clear inside. We recorded it this time so anyone who is considering getting a port can see how easy it is.


(Don’t worry, the screaming isn’t real… I dubbed the sound hours afterward to come up with creative narration.)

It should be duly noted at this point that, before she met me, Beautiful had only seen the inside of a hospital or doctor’s office a couple of times in her life. Me being in the picture was a whole new, scary world of needles, tubes, and machines that beep. What a woman! Look at what she can do now. Just wait until we make a video of her placing a dressing on the port – I am not planning on that for a very long time – she would put 98% of all RNs to shame.

Here is my list of why I think CFers should have a port. It’s the exact opposite of Ronnie’s reason to not get a port for his reasons, so let’s put it all out there and let you make the decision if the decision is still up to you (because I was pretty much out of options after over 18 PICCs).

  • Freedom – When I’m on IVs, I can de-access my port at any time; I just have to be willing to be stabbed again for my next dose in case it’s still tender. Therefore I can go bowling, swimming, or anything as if I wasn’t on IVs for as long as my dosage break allows. Hello? Showering without wrapping up with tape and baggies!? Yeah!
  • Self-reliance – No more need to go to hospital sector 4H to get a PICC and being sore for the next 2-4 days from that ordeal. The meds from home health literally show up on my doorstep and we start dosing.
  • Prevention of further cardiac issues – I’d been experiencing numbness in my arms in various positions for years, so hopefully this is allowing those valves to heal or at least not get progressively worse.
  • Privacy – I can be, and have been, on IVs and not even had anyone at work or pretty close family know it. It’s harder to do that with a PICC because you have to wear long sleeve shirts (a no-no in Florida between March and January). I see going on IVs as a failure. A weakness. I avoid being seen as weak at nearly all costs. I’m 5’4″, who can blame me for a little bit of Napoleon complex? PICCs were a dead give-away that I was weaker than others.
  • Less costly – I’m not sure what the bill came out for the procedure, but I’m sure that one port placement in 4 years has to be less expensive than placing what would have been… uh… maybe 9 PICC lines with radiological surgeon.
  • Entertainment value – If I ever feel like being the medical center of attention, we could put on a show with my port!

In full disclosure, getting a port does hurt like heck for a few weeks as the sutures that attach the port to your pecs become an accustomed presence. Every little movement for a day hurts. Then every major movement for a week hurts. Then bumps for weeks hurt. After that, it takes a pretty extreme knock to cause any discomfort.

How many of you have ports? I’m here for any questions that I haven’t covered if you are nearing the end of your hassles with PICCs or if you are just interested in possibly getting one for any or all of these benefits. We’re all in this together, one way or another.

Comments

  1. Petersen says:

    I remember thinking, the day you got that port, that I sure hope it works and lasts. And if I remember right, you were not real happy at the time about needing it. Glad to know it's it's doing great so far and that you're getting real benefits from it..

  2. Seanset68 says:

    My daughter Lauren had her 3rd port fitted 20/4/2010 and has had them since she was 6 years old. This latest one is slightly different to cffatboy's because her's is on her left side attached to her lower ribcage, she finds it a lot better there being a young lady. 2 reasons for this: 1.Breast tissue(hard to get the gripper needle through) 2.Cosmetic reasons(low cut tops,bra straps etc). The monthly flushes as you have seen takes no time at all. Everything considered I think they are well worth having.

  3. WOW! YOu know I've never had a port or PICC – I don't even do midlines – peripheral is how I roll 🙂 Now – how long is the tubing inside of you? How close to your heart is it? I just have a phobia of all this and since my veins are awesome for now – and I've been on IV 6 times in the last 18 months – the last time 37 days straight! and still dealt with the peripheral. I can see the benefit of the freedom! so tempting! hmm – who knows what the future holds . . . .

  4. You remember correctly… I was pissed! I was mad that Beautiful was getting
    the raw deal on the attractive mate in a major way after that. How can you
    ignore that big bump? Heh! Turns out she's a better person than I am.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Sean. I hadn't thought about the needle getting
    through any additional tissue in women because I had assumed that they were
    all inserted with minimal epidermis between the port and outside world.
    That's pretty nifty that she can wear what she wants/needs without
    discomfort now that she's older.

    Do you guys flush at home by yourselves or with help? I just can't get
    myself to do it, but I suppose if I had to, I'd want to be hopped up on
    Xanax first. Thankfully, I have Beautiful to avoid that course of action.

  6. It is at the opening of your heart. They do fluoroscope x-rays for
    placement. It goes from my clavicle straight down into the chest – I'd say
    8-10″… dunno. I was out like a light the same as wisdom teeth. I remember
    being there, but I don't remember pain or time at all. Just flashes of
    things that I would consider memories.

    The last time I did peripheral, I was in the 5th grade and the meds were so
    rough on my vein that I had a calcified lump at the exit point of the tubing
    in my vein that I could feel for over 10 years! I just felt there again
    because I remember the spot like it was yesterday, but it's all better now.
    They were changing sites every 2-3 days and I was a very pissy camper about
    that! We did PICCs after that.

    I've also never been on IVs more than 21 days that I'm aware of.

    Considering how long you have to be on IVs, I'd consider getting over your
    phobia. I see all kinds of bad things happening before they happen, and then
    don't happen anyway, but I never even think twice about my port. My only
    phobia is that we won't be able to flush it. Oh, and the occasional Chuck
    Norris is going to judo-chop my pec straight down and disconnect the tubing
    from the port.

    I'm here for more questions – Beautiful is, too.

  7. Seanset68 says:

    Lauren has the port flushed at the CF clinic in Sheffield at the moment because she is having monthy visits. I think now she is happy with this new one she might let me do the flushing? The childrens community nurses used to come to our house to flush her old one and they have said they will train me to do it when and if Lauren decides the time is right.

  8. Seanset68 says:

    Lauren has the port flushed at the CF clinic in Sheffield at the moment because she is having monthy visits. I think now she is happy with this new one she might let me do the flushing? The childrens community nurses used to come to our house to flush her old one and they have said they will train me to do it when and if Lauren decides the time is right.

  9. I had a port placed when I was 14 and then again when I was 19, both times I was at a children’s hospital and knocked completely out. I’ve heard that once you transition to an adult hospital (which, being 22, I now have) that they don’t knock you out all the way…The last time I had a “twilight” procedure performed I was aware of everything going on which makes me nervous about not being completely under the next time I get my port replaced. Care to go into a little more detail about the actual procedure?

    • Well, as I said, I got it because I could no longer get a PICC placed, so when I needed IVs again, instead of leaving me oin the PICC wing (outpatient, minor surgery), they wheeled me down to an operating room, put the huge light on me, started my last IV in my arm, and gave me twilight.

      All I remember of the procedure from that point on is right after they started the meds, I remember the surgeon asking me if I felt a pinch, which I didn’t. The next thing I remember clearly is being home. I remember more of my coming and going from getting my wisdom teeth out and FAR more about every sinus surgery post-op than I do my port placement.

      While you are “aware” at the moment, it’s like amnesia. I once sat outside a dental room waiting for my mother-in-law to recover from her wisdom tooth extraction and hearing a teen crying the whole time she was in the room. She came out in a daze and her mom was asking her how things went and the girl didn’t have a clue.