Friday, September 26, 2008

When they said "port" I thought they were going to bring me a glass of wine and maybe a piece of cheese. Boy, was I wrong.

Dave here. Julie did the title and asked me to do the rest.

The last two days have been the hardest so far. We had the impression that the port surgery would be no big deal. Maybe that's usually the case. Or maybe Julie's small stature, or the cutting of her strong tennis pecs, or just the accumulation of five weeks of surgeries and procedures, took its toll.

The surgery to install the port to her vena cava was Thursday morning. At home Thursday afternoon she was in the worst pain I've ever seen her in (yes, I was there for all three childbirths, the double mastectomy recovery and the drainage tube removal).

The day started off badly, and way too early, as we had to be at the hospital at 5:45a.m. for the 8:15 surgery. Julie was still tender and mending from the double mastectomy and lymph node removal four weeks ago, not to mention all the other pokes, prods and procedures in between, and not feeling at the top of her game for another surgery. To be honest, she wasn't even feeling up for an IV. We spoke all weekend about how we wish things could slow down a little bit, just so she could catch her breath and go into this port/chemo phase feeling a little bit stronger, and more like herself. But we know that is a luxury we cannot afford; and we know we want to have no regrets that we didn't do everything we could to fight this all the way. And then there was me, being physically and emotionally drained from trying to keep all my plates spinning (and feeling like I'm not doing a very good job at it). We let Matt drive us to the hospital and actually got in a fight over whether he should be hugging the center line (Julie's way) or the right line (my way). Julie's theory is the oncoming cars will move, but the mailboxes won't. It's hard to argue with that, especially since I recently took out a mailbox (it had it coming). I tried to tell Matt the arguing was our strategy for training him to drive under pressure, but I think he saw right through me on that one.

Things went from bad to worse when the nurse had trouble with the IV, specifically when she was trying to draw some blood for the CVC Scan. You know something's not going right when the nurse talks about your blood flowing "as slow as molasses" and you can feel the needle up to your elbow. But it did confirm the decision to get a port. And how.

After one quick joke for the operating crew (something like the title of this blog), the kind anesthesiologist cast a happier spell over the IV, and the next thing Julie knew she was waking up in the recovery room. The surgery was a fairly quick one, was way less traumatic than the IV debacle, and the mission was accomplished. The port was in and we are at the ready for chemo. Not excited for it, but ready. And no more IVs for a good long time.

We came home and crashed hard, so hard that we slept through Julie's next scheduled pain med dose, and she woke up shocked by the pain with tears streaming down her face. The rest of the day was pretty much just trying to get back in front of the pain, which is a very hard thing to do, once you get behind. I have since set my cell phone alarm to go off every four hours so that will not happen again.

Today she spent most of the day having a hard time dealing with the side effects (extreme nausea/dizziness) of the pain meds, and we finally figured out, late in the day, that maybe the side effects were more of a problem than the actual pain, so we called the doctor and asked to switch back to the meds she had after the other two surgeries, which she took fine. Ever since it seems like things are looking a bit brighter.

And hopefully they'll be even brighter tomorrow, which is her 43rd birthday. Happy Birthday, darling!

The Praise Meeting is still a go at this point. Our house at 7pm, Saturday, Sept 27. Hope you can make it, but if not please keep praying for us and giving thanks with us.

PS - an oncologist nurse friend of ours mentioned to Julie that she should name the port since it is going to be part of her for quite a while. We thought it would be fun to have a port naming contest (yes there will be a prize!). All entries must be posted as comments to this blog. Winner to be announced.


debbie p said...

Dave and Julie,

I'm so very sorry that this has been so rough. Percocet is an evil drug! I so hope you are feeling better but if you need to cancel tonight, please do so. AS for the port, the first thing that "popped" into my mind was corky because you said it is like a wine cork. I'm sure I can do better with a little more time to thing. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Whatabout, Spencer Tracy?
Or Styver! From Tale of Two Cities. Because we all hate him, and we hate the port, so it fits perfectly!
:D Apparently his first name is C.J., but we could just say mr...

Anonymous said...

name it Philip Methuselah Vonstreubenheimer!!! =p

Anonymous said...

Port Warriorshire

According to the Random House Dictionary, the term warrior has two meanings. The first literal use refers to "a person engaged or experienced in warfare." The second figurative use refers to "a person who shows great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as athletics

Port Iefanshire

Last name origin & meaning: Evans
Welsh: patronymic from the personal name Iefan (see Evan), with redundant English patronymic -s.

Last name origin & meaning:Shire

English and Irish (County Limerick; of English origin): from Old English scīr, Middle English s(c)hire ‘shire’, perhaps a topographic name for someone who lived by the meeting place of a shire.

This could be very interesting to see what all names you come up with

Happy Birthday and may God smile on you today.

Love you

Angela said...

Happy Birthday Julie!
I wish you didn't have to go thru the pain you're experiencing, I guess the only comfort is knowing you're cancer-free and this is just a cautionary measure. But I know that's probably little consolation for the pain and med side effects.
Happy Birthday and I'm praying this will get easier for you (not the birthdays, although I don't want those to get any harder either, but such is the nature of birthdays!!!)

Anonymous said...


I hope your birthday and prayer gathering have been filled with love and given you and the family strength. I know things will get better for all of you in time.
Bill & I enjoyed spending some time with you this afternoon...sorry we couldn't stay longer.
After some thought, my "official entry" into the "name the port contest" is:
(not to be confused with the Cape of Good Hope) Seems fitting, doesn't it?!

With love and prayers,
Auntie Cheryl

Anonymous said...

Julie and Aphid - I think you should name the port "Lady MacBeth"...since it will make sure those #%*@ spots are out! :)
Sorry you had to go through that pain Julie. Happy Birthday and I hope the praise session was a huge blessing. Know that you are being prayed for out here in Colorado too! Love, Ris

Anonymous said...

okiday my official entries are (because i have two):
jude: because hey, jude don't make it bad. the beatles are influential enough that they have a right to name such an insiduous artifact
jojo: because get back to where you one belong, get back jojo. and we want him out! because when he's out, that means you're all better
tada :D
oh and pick me mom !!!

laura hill said...

Oh, Julie! I feel so bad that the port placement was so hard! Unusual, indeed. I feel bad that I even recommended that you do it, but I still think it was the best decision. Right now, it doesn't seem like it, but I expect that it will become a dear friend to you - based on what so many people have told me. So as far as names go...I don't recommend Satan or anything quite so evil.

celina said...

OK, not Port-o-let. Not chocolate port, although that was yummy with the almond champagne...What about porter? A porter is a gatekeeper. OK , no that is me..what did Harry Potter call his portal? I am just not creative.

Anonymous said...

I propose the following name for your port: Rapha

1) "Yahweh Rapha is the second name which God uses in Scripture to reveal Himself to His people. It follows the Israelites exodus from Egypt when God tells them: "If you will diligently listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, and will do that which is right in His eyes, and will pay attention to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you, which I have put on the Egyptians; for I am Yahweh Who Heals you, Yahweh Rapha." (Exodus 15:26)

2) Rapha: Nickname for Rafael Nadal. Tennis. Okay, we're a little obsessed.

Cheers my friend.

Lisa R.

Anonymous said...

Hey sis. How about LBB...little bitty bastard? I'm sure that port is soooo very irritating to your body and allowing such toxic drink to flow through your veins, but at the same time, will rid your body of any of those nasty little cancer cells, for ever, away from your body.