Passport to Hell

May 19th, 2011

Port Placement

Waiting for the Port

I wasn’t too concerned with my Port Placement procedure today. The way all the medical professionals speak about it, its no big deal at all. Well I showed up at the hospital at 8:45a and didn’t leave until 2:00p – I don’t call that no big deal. I spent the first three hours getting IV setup, and waiting, waiting and more waiting. But there was one little pleasant surprise – I got to keep my pants on. Every other time I have had any procedure done at ARMC they strip you down to your birthday suit – nothing more insecure than wearing only a “gown” that is thinner than toilet paper and opened right up the back with your bare behind sticking out. Boy was I glad to get to wear pants this time!

Smart Port Injectable Port

The procedure is simple enough I guess. They give you a couple of meds that puts you in a partially sedated state. You can talk if you want to, but you are mostly in a light dream state. Nothing hurt except the lidocaine injection during the procedure. So they make a 2 inch incision in the fleshy part of the inside of my left arm, insert this device with the wider flat part facing up, and they feed this line that is connected to the port through my vein in my left arm to the main artery that feeds into your heart. They sew up your skin and the only thing visible after the healing process is a small nickle sized flat area underneath your skin.

Lunch at ARMC after Port Placement

Sounds pretty painless right? Uh, not so! I was feeling just fine just coming out of anethesia and while eating lunch but after a few hours, and the feeling started coming back in my arm, it is an awfully intense and directed pain right where the port is placed. It is literally shoved into that small incision – no tissue is removed so it is stuffed in and the tissue around it just has to make room for it. I have been taking Lortab 5MG for a few weeks for the pain resulting from the mastectomy and multiple reconstructive surgeries and have been able to manage the pain pretty consistently through medication and rest. But this procedure is a lot of trauma focused in a space the size of a quarter or so – so its lots of pain in a small area – pretty intense – instead of spread out across your whole chest.

Here is how I described the pain to someone else:

“Take a marble, place it on the inside fleshy part of your arm, tape it tight around your arm with like electrical tape, then smoosh it in so deep that it feels like it is inside your arm. Basically I have something the size of a large marble inside the fleshy part of my arm, and I have stiches over it, and I have bandaging that is pushing it in further than it already is. It is a deep, dull and sharp pain…..and I have a huge bruise on the inside of my arm about the size of a baseball.”

Smart Port Passport Card

I’ve been told the pain and discomfort will only last a few days. I’m counting on it. Oh and here is a photo of my official “passport” documentation that I have to keep with me at all times. Guess this makes me special!


Oh and the other thing I had done today was the Echocardiogram which was painless and boring but i’ll take painless over interesting any day.

Image from Echocardiogram

Here is a photo of what it is – it is basically a sonogram of your heart to measure its current efficiency. They use it as a baseline to make sure chemotherapy isn’t causing stress on your heart function. There are medications they can give you if it is causing stress but they need to know if and when to administer it.



  1. Janet Rowland says:

    My gosh, Stephanie, I had no idea! I know you are a strong woman and yes, you will be a survivor. I have no doubt. I will send prayers and good thoughts your way. May your pain ease and serenity fill it’s place. Bless you.

  2. Jenn Gonyea says:

    The best I can tell you is that it gets a little better over time. But, I still wanted that sucker OUT as soon as chemo was over! Call me anytime…even 7am!

  3. Tammy says:

    Just got my port yesterday. Everyone said it wasn’t a big deal but the stupid thing hurts like hell. They told me the nurse could use it as soon as it’s in but no one is touching this until it heals some.

  4. mariana says:

    i’m 27 years old, was diagnosted on 4 of july with breast cancer… they made me a mastectomy on the rigth breast… I got my port in and yes hurts like hell.. I cant spleep a lot and depresion got me 3 dasy ago :( mi fisrt quimo is in monday…