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Getting a port
Nelly18
10 Posts
I am 41 years old & I have to go for chemo (again) however this time I can no longer get an IV. My veins have collapsed on my left side & due to surgery I can no longer get IVs on my right arm. I am going to have a port inserted. Could you tell me what this is like. It says it’s a local anesthetic only & I’ll be awake for it. This sounds scary to me. I’m just not good with pain. Now getting an IV/bloodwork & Heparin stresses me out. Any experiences you can share to let me know what it’s like and ease my fear would be appreciated. Thank you ❤️
14 Replies

@Nelly18 When I got my port, I first got an IV put into my right arm. I told them I had issues with my veins because of chemo. My left arm was not an option, all iv's had to be put into right arm. The nurse poked me 3 times before she got an ultrasound to find a vein then poked me another 2 times. Once that was completed I went into the room to get the port put in. I was given drugs and I don't remember the procedure. The only discomfort I had was them finding a vein and the wound created where the port was installed. The procedure must have finished around lunch time as I was given a sandwich and a drink. I did have to arrange for a ride as I wasn't allowed to drive home. Once you have a port installed the chemo process of putting in an iv is so much easier. First poke and the needle is in. When I was finished my treatment, I had to get my port cleaned/flushed once a month until I had the port removed. I had my port removed by my Plastic Surgeon during one of my breast reconstruction surgeries.

Boby1511
595 Posts

@Nelly18

hi there,

port/pic I too stressed I would need one of these. Thankfully not yet.

I feel for you. Best wishes all goes well.

Essjay
1598 Posts

@Nelly18 I had a port and it really did make life easy for me for blood draws and receiving chemo.

For the insertion I went into the hospital about 9am and was prepped for the procedure. There was a production line and I went in for the procedure about 10am. I had conscious sedated (fentanyl) and supposedly awake the whole time, but I remember nothing. I went home as soon as I was awake enough and had had something to drink with my designated driver. I was advised not to be left alone for 24 hours, to drive or to make legal decisions!

I had a fair bit of bruising from the insertion but this wore off over about ten days. I have very little adipose tissue so the port stuck out and was annoyingly in the way for bra straps, some clothing, seat belts, my purse strap. I used padding to make it more comfortable. I felt I was just a little bit ‘Borg’ if you know Star Trek!

I had it removed once chemo was done under local anaesthetic. There was a fair bit of tugging as my tissues had begun to grow over it.

Definitely worth it! Essjay

Daffy74
12 Posts
Hello there!

I know ports sound scary and invasive and they are compared to an IV but they do also come with so much advantages too. In my opinion, they are well worth it!

I got mine inserted on September 2nd. My oncologist had recommended a PICC but I asked for the port instead for a few reasons. Ports are more discrete as they as under the skin on your chest. They are not visible at all except for a little lump. You can shower or take baths with them no problem, no dressing is needed, they are out of the way and do not hang anywheres. What I did not realize at the time is that it would create more scars on my body and was a minor surgery to be put in as opposed to the PICC.

As far as insertion goes, it was pretty much the same as everyone else said. When in first thing in the am, had to be fasting from midnight on, they did insert an IV and took me in the procedure room. I was awake but sedated with Fentanyl. I felt nothing but was awake and just relaxing or talking to the nurse. It took about an hour and I stayed in recovery for another hour before going back home. They had a small dressing on the site for the first 48 hours and then I took it off and could shower. I had one small incision at the base of my neck where they inserted the catheter and then a larger one about 2 inches long where they created a pocket and inserted the triangle shaped hub. It took about 3 weeks to a month for my port to heal. The only issue I had was a bit of discomfort where one corner of the hub was rubbing against the incision on the inside giving me like a burning sensation at times depending on position. That is all gone now. I have had 2 chemo treatments since and it is so lovely! No more pokes or painful IV or tugging. I go in, they access it, run my meds through and then deaccess and I go home! The heparin they put in is such a small quantity and it is only to keep you port patten until next time. It does not go into your body so you don’t need to worry about it. Once treatments are done, you don’t have to do anything with it! No dressing, no care or flushing! It is just there! They could do my bloodwork through my port but my clinic doesn’t. I also had a CT and they could have used it for the dye injection but there was no nurse available to access it. It was ok with me because I have good veins but in your case, that would be another amazing usage for it! And if ever you have to be admitted or need IV access for whatever reason, it is right there so will be so much less traumatic that always being poked!!! Hope this helps! Good luck on your port insertion and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Glory22
27 Posts

Hi Nelly,

I also had a port placed recently this year. I had no complications from the surgery and love having it. I've always had small veins and this has made everything so much easier. I previously had breast cancer and double mastectomy without reconstruction….even with that you can hardly see my port unless I told you it was there. There is a small scar from the incision sites for the port but my body is so scared from my mastectomy, hysterectomy, etc from cancer that I don't care 😜

I am planning to keep me port in as long as I need to. I hardly feel it and it's made my life so much easier during chemo treatments.

Goodtogo
82 Posts
I had a port as well. Highly highly recommend. Had ‘awake sedation’ for the insertion. Remember the whole thing.. zero discomfort. Well worth it considering the trouble some folks in the clinic had with IV access. For removal, local anesthetic & tugging. No big deal. Had my port fir 16 months in total
ac2020
21 Posts

@Nelly18 I would not do Chemo without a port. It made my treatments so much more less stressful. No pain and my veins are perfect. BUT, not hospitals use that Port for anything other than Chemo. Princess Margaret in Toronto DOES NOT. So blood work every two weeks is taken by a vein, no big deal. The procedure is not very long and you hardly see it or feel it. Takes some time to heal though just an FYI. Best of Luck.

Mammabear
200 Posts

The port install is easy peasy. The removal was even simpler.

I did however have a love/hate relationship with it.

Called it my third nipple. I hated the look of the bump in my chest, I still hate the scar. It wasn't super comfortable either.

BUT… treatment was easy. Never multiple pokes or digs as the nurse searches for a vein. And that made it worth it.

Get some EMLA - small tube will do as it is expensive.

BLOB it on an hour before treatment and cover with cellophane. This completely numbs the area and you won't even feel the needle.

Kit08
20 Posts

@Nelly18 Hi I am in the pro port camp! I got a port 25 years ago for Hodgkin’s treatment and I got one again in July for breast cancer treatment. Instalation heals up fairly quick, mine was used 5 days after instal. I do not like getting poked 3 times for an IV! Treatment my first time burnt out the one reliable vein I had. One and Done with the port. Buy a tube of Emla cream from the pharmacy (not sure if you get a prescription if it is covered by insurance) put on 1 hour before chemo. Makes plugging in the IV painless. I also found some of the side effects were lessened, going into a larger blood vessel and diluting quicker: Vein pain, mouth sores, mouth pain.

Wishing you well. 💕

Helentess
24 Posts

One thing to watch for is blood clots from having a port. I had pain & stiffness in my right arm for a few days & thought it was tendonitis from using my arm too much. When the arm got very swollen, red & hard to touch; I knew it was a blood clot. The scan showed 3 blood clots in 3 different veins in my neck (near end of port), my chest (where actual port was) and midway between those points.

Later I talked to other people during chemo, and found that 3 others had a blood clot in arm shortly after port was inserted. The ER cancer doctors said that this is quite common for cancer patients with ports. The solution is blood thinners or remove the port. Just be aware clots could happen.

Also, my first port failed after a few months because the vein collapsed. I had the port removed and a new port was inserted on the other side where the surgeon found a good vein.

The surgery for insertion/removal is painless. But the healing process hurts for a few days, with lots of bruising.

It takes a few uses for scar tissue to build up over the port, so eventually the needle poke becomes painless. I don't use the numbing cream anymore.

Dakley
16 Posts

@Nelly18 @Helentess Port procedure itself was painless, recovery was definitely uncomfortable. Have had 2 treatments with the port and it a breeze for sure, first treatment had not received the port yet, was not fun. Actually have an IV burn afterwards. Now have a scar on my hand from that. Port is the way to go, but as Helentess said I am now dealing with a clot, was detected on a CT scan that was done, had a venous ultrasound which confirmed it, am on a blood thinner and will be discussing with a doctor in the anti-coagulation clinic next week. I really hope to keep the port until completion of my treatments, but will have to see. Good luck.

Learning
13 Posts

I had a port for my 12 chemo treatments, had it removed in August. For me although I was anxious it was a very easy procedue. I woke up and it was installed. It did take awhile to get used to the bump in my chest but it did make the chemo process so much easier and efficient. I agree with another comment here having it taken out was even easier. I was nervous about it but for me it was not a problem.

df7b4cac2a4c9722fe89e29e42804e5d-origina
Chemo port

@Nelly18 That's a photo of what my port looked like while I had it.

Nelly18
10 Posts
That is so helpful thank you!!!!
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