Yesterday involved a long day at the hospital giving swabs, bloods and generally preparing for the main show – surgery !
… hold on, I wasn’t having surgery, was I ?…
Well, I’m still not having liver surgery, and instead I am resuming chemotherapy starting this coming Monday. But the pain the drugs were putting my arms through was getting highly unpleasant, so my oncologist and I agreed that a portacath was the way to go.
This is a small plastic bump that sits under my skin on the upper chest. The bump has a silicone membrane that allows needles to penetrate and remove bloods or inject fluids. From the bump, there is a long tube that goes down a main artery and to the main blood flow into my heart. The pain in my arms was coming from the arm veins only moving 10ml blood / minute. This meant it took a long while for the chemo drugs to dilute around the body, and the concentrated dose in my arm was causing the pain. As the main arteries move around 3 litres of blood / minute (e.g. 300 times faster) this should remove this localised pain – one of my least favorite part of the oxaliplatin injections.
The operation to put this in took around 1 hour and was a complete success so far. But for the next 7-10 days, I need to be careful with the stiches, as there is a 2-3 inch incision where the portacath was fitted. It’s also quite painful, like a very nasty bruise on my chest, but also one I need to be careful not to suddenly jerk or move around too much. A few over the counter pain killers are keeping it quite manageable, but I hope it’s feeling significantly better by next Monday for it’s trail run !