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Surgery and return to the day hospital

4 Aug

Wednesday was the big day; the day that I had my port put in. At first I was very nervous about the operation but it quickly became obvious that the procedure is very routine and that there’s not a lot to be worried about. At 7:30 AM my Dad and I checked in with interventional radiology. Very quickly we were taken back to the sedation unit of the interventional radiology suite. Just like with chemo I began the process with a nurse taking my vitals. Afterwards the nurse took me back to my own simple room where I had to wipe myself down before changing into scrubs. Finally, the nurses gave me an IV. Luckily they were able to insert the IV at my elbow. I doubt they would’ve been able to find a vein anywhere else! Finally after I was finished being physically prepped for surgery, the nurse practitioner came back to go through her final checklist. She mostly went over preexisting conditions. Luckily, besides a brain tumor of course, I don’t have any preexisting conditions so my dad signed off on the surgery and I was given the green light.

I was supposed to go into surgery at 9:30. However, the surgeon was busy so I didn’t end up going into surgery until around 10:30. Before I was wheeled back to the OR one of the doctors came back to talk to my dad and I about some of the after effects of the surgery and the deep sedation. Finally two nurses wheeled me back to the OR. Due to the fact that the surgeon was running a little late, I was waiting and talking with the nurses back in the OR for about twenty minutes before the operation started. They were extremely friendly and it was very comforting to see how relaxed they were. More than anything they gave off the impression that they’ve placed tons of ports and that I’m really not that special.

The next thing I knew I woke up in the same room where the day had started. My dad was sitting there with me and in the grand scheme of things, I didn’t feel that bad. It took me awhile before I was ready to stand up and walk. However, once I did get up I was almost immediately given permission to leave the hospital. The nurses insisted that I rode down to the parking garage with my dad in a wheelchair, however, after that I was on my own again.

The port itself hasn’t been too bad. It was definitely uncomfortable the first couple of days, but now I’m starting to get used to it. It’s been tough not being able to take a real shower, and the site of the incision has been a little itchy as it heals but that’s about it!

The port really did help makes things easy the following day when I stated my maintenance period chemo treatments. Like always the nurses started by taking my vitals. Afterwards I was called back to the room where the nurses would normally put in my IV. This time all they had to do was draw blood. This was literally painless because the surgeon left a line into the port the day before when I had my surgery. This meant that the nurses didn’t even have to access the port to draw blood.

Eventually I was sent back to the waiting room and I began bracing myself for the normal prolonged wait. However, it was only about thirty minutes before I was called back to see my oncologist! Record time! The meeting was very regular. We basically went over some of the restrictions that go along with the first week of having a port. Afterwards I was taking back to the day hospital to begin my treatment.

The nurses decided to start my treatment with Benadryl and a precaution to a small reaction I had in the tenth week of my intensive. One thing that I had heard before about Benadryl is that it either puts you straight to sleep or makes you very agitated. The last time I had Benadryl it made me sleepy. However, unfortunately this time it made me very agitated.  It was hard to stay still and I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin. Luckily after about twenty minutes the Ativan kicked in and I fell asleep again.

When I next woke up, my chemo regiment was all finished for the day. The only thing that was left to do was for the nurse to take the needle out of my port. This was pretty painful. However, she reassured me that the port was extra sensitive because it was brand new and that the following week shouldn’t be nearly as bad. My dad and I packed up our stuff and made our way home. Over the days that followed my treatment I was feeling pretty sick. I can’t help but think that having a brand new port had something to do with it. Luckily that’s all passed now and I can enjoy the next few days before my next round of treatment. Right now I am on my way down to DC to set up my room before I make the move permanently later this month.

As always, thank you for following my journey. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask.

-Josh

Back to the Hospital!

31 Jul

Well it’s been great to say that I haven’t had a lot to post about of the past few days. My family was able to take a much needed vacation in beautiful Kiawah Island, SC. Now that we’re home is time to get back into the chemo routine.

Tomorrow is a big day because I’m having a port put in. It became very obvious during the last couple of my treatments during the intensive period that I was going to need a port. On the very last week of the intensive, week 10, I had to receive three different IVs before they found a vein that worked! The nurses even called out as they struggled to find a vein, “thank god you’re getting a port!”

Check in tomorrow for the surgery is 7:30 AM. The surgery is done by the interventional radiologists. At first it was scary to hear that the surgery was done by interventional radiology, however, it quickly became obvious that the interventional radiologists are very skilled and the best people to put in the port. Check in to check out is supposed to be somewhere around six hours. Once I’m checked in at 7:30 they take my vitals and prep me for surgery. If everything goes to plan, I’ll go into surgery around 9:30. The surgery is expected to take around an hour and a half.

Unlike when adults have ports put in, I’m fully sedated during my surgery. However, unlike my neurosurgery they don’t use anesthesia. Instead they use deep sedation. I’m not exactly sure what the difference is. I know it means that recovery time is shorted, but I’m not sure that the other big differences are. The side effects are expected to be pretty minor. I’m expected to have some discomfort but nothing major. Also, I know that I cannot submerge the area where the port is placed for a week and I cannot do any intense physical activity. They’re going to leave a line in the port, that way when I have chemo on Thursday, the nurses can use the port.

Hopefully everything goes to plan. I’ll fill everyone in on how things went on Friday after my surgery and my first chemo of the maintenance period. Thanks again for following my journey and for all the amazing support.