Thursday, January 26, 2012

Human Pin Cushion

It's official.  I no longer like needles.  Ok, I never really liked them, but I never minded them either.  Doing the whole fertility/hormone treatment thing over the last couple of weeks has been interesting for me.  Any given day I was getting up to four needles inserted per day; either through the daily hormone injections that Mike gave me (I worked up the nerve to do a couple myself!), or with the blood tests I was getting every other day, or IV's for CT scans and other medical procedures.  My arms and belly are bruised from all the needles.  My veins are in need of rest and recovery.  I just learned in my Chemo Teach session (more on that later) that drinking lots of fluids = healthy veins.  I suppose that means I should up my water intake.

This week in particular has been filled with poking and prodding.  I had a port-a-cath inserted on Tuesday and my eggs retrieved for freezing today.  For those of you who do not know what a port-a-cath is, it's essentially a small circular, rubber port that is attached to a long, thin catheter (tube).  I was given sedatives through intravenous then they did local anaesthetic in my right pectoral and neck.  They made a 3 cm incision on my chest and inserted the port.  The catheter was then threaded under my skin and pulled out through another, smaller incision in my neck.  It was then inserted into a main vein in my neck, down toward my heart.  The purpose of port-a-cath is to avoid continuous IV's during the chemotherapy treatments.  It is more sanitary, less painful, and easier to use.  I have to do 46 hours of chemo at home, so all those characteristics will come in handy.  I was somewhat unprepared for the pain that I would experience from the insertion though.  Once the freezing came off... Yowza!  It was swollen and so incredibly sore that I could barely move my neck or right arm.  My neck was so sore that opening my mouth to eat and talk even hurt.  Mike took my phone away from me because I kept answering calls and then complained to him about how much it hurt to talk.  Fair enough.

Today, things finally had settled down on the port-a-cath front just in time for me to focus on having my eggs removed.  Mike and I went in this morning for the retrieval.  I was, once again, given an IV (I bled all over the place when she put it in.  Kinda funny).  They gave me all sorts of drugs.  Tylenol, Gravol, and Ativan just to start!  I was excited to see the Tylenol because I hadn't taken any that morning for my chest and I was hurting a lot.  I went into the procedure room and climbed on the chair.  I got the cute, friendly doctor with the nice voice for my procedure, so I was pretty excited.  He and the nurses did a fabulous job of keeping me comfortable.  I wasn't sure why they were trying so hard to make me comfortable when they started.  They told me the freezing needle would be the worst part.  It was nothing.  Once again, I started to wonder why they were being so comforting and encouraging.  Then the retrieval started.  The needle poked into my ovaries and started digging around, sucking out the eggs.   OH MY GOODNESS.  OUCH.  Imagine menstrual cramps x100.  It was like 10 minutes of a bad labour contraction without any breaks.  And that was WITH the freezing!  Not exactly what I was expecting.  The cramping started soon after and I nearly passed out while being wheeled from the procedure room to the recovery room.  The nurses kept telling me to keep my eyes open and to talk to them.  I was confused and said, "You want me to talk to you?".  They got all excited that I was responding.  The whole room went sort of wonky at that point, like the world was imploding.  Very odd experience.

Now, I sit on my couch, dozing in and out with a heat pad on my tummy.  Walking around is pretty uncomfortable, but it's definitely easier recovering from the egg retrieval than the port-a-cath insertion.  I have decided that my least favourite medical procedures to date are those in which I am cut open.  I just don't like it.  At least this most recent slice and dice was to help me avoid tons of needles in the future.  I do have things to be grateful for!  I won't be pestered by all those little stabs for the next 6 months.  Yay!  


  1. You rock my dear... we're with you each and every step and your blog is an inspiration to those of us who may be wanting to complain about an ache or a pain in the old body in the morning! :)

  2. Totally agree with you Trevor... You are an inspiration Annette..Love you!