I’ve been deported… It’s OK, I’m still living in the UK, safe and sound, but today my port-a-cath was removed under local anaesthetic. Please see my Cancer Diary page for full details.
The whole procedure was a lot easier than I’d expected. The worst part was the injection of the local anaesthetic which really was quite painful. It worked very quickly and the surgeon began the procedure almost immediately. All the staff in the theatre were very friendly and reassuring, and told me exactly what was going on throughout, and asked if I felt any discomfort (which I did not). I could feel a certain amount of pushing and pulling as he freed the port from the stitches holding it in place, and the connective tissue which my body had produced around it. I could not see what was happening because of the position in which I had to lie, but I could hear what was going on.
He opened up the skin along the scar from when the port was inserted so there shouldn’t be any more of a scar than I already had. After its removal, it was just a matter of sewing me up again, with a final touch of some waterproof skin adhesive and no need for any dressing. I can shower when I like, and I do not need to return. I will get a phone call tomorrow to check that everything is OK, and I’ve got a number to ring if I have any concerns.
I was actually feeling rather attached to my port (emotionally as well as physically!) after having had it for 10 months, and I was quite accustomed to the hard little lump on my upper right chest wall, and the catheter which I could feel under the skin, running over my collar bone, and I used to fiddle with it sometimes! I feel quite bereft in a funny sort of way, now it is gone. I asked if I could keep it but they said no – health and safety and all that – they used to let people keep them in the old days but now they are worried about infection – they were sending it to histology to check, but there is very little likelihood of anything. Everything apparently looked absolutely fine.
A cup of tea in the recovery ward, after which I got dressed and sat with my hubby in another room until the nurse came in with the discharge paperwork, and after this we were free to go.
This port-a-cath has been absolutely brilliant. It was more trouble to install, and to remove, than the alternatives, but so much more convenient for me, especially through the summer months when I was having my treatment – being completely buried under the skin, there as nothing to show except a small bump, and I could shower and do everything as normal without having to worry about it.
The removal of the port really does mark the end of my cancer treatment – it’s a real red-letter day. However, in the same way that my emotions were very mixed when I was given my cancer all-clear, so they are today – of course I am glad it is no longer needed and has now been removed, but it’s the passing of an era and I feel rather sad about it in a funny sort of way! I shall feel absolutely fine about it soon, I know – just as I do now about my all-clear verdict. It’s just another milestone along the journey back to health, and I am grateful.
I would recommend a port to anyone about to undergo chemotherapy.
Any old port in a storm.