My Port a Cath removal signified a turning point in my cancer treatment. It meant that my chemotherapy was finished, and that the port was no longer needed, due to the cancer being in complete remission for over one year. This was an exciting time for me, and something I will always remember.
My oncologist actually postponed the removal a few times, as he wanted to make absolutely sure that I no longer needed it. If non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma ever returns in a patient, it usually happens within the first year or so after chemo is completed. We waited over a year after the end of my treatment, just to be safe.
When it was finally time for the Port a Cath removal, I was scheduled for an outpatient procedure at the Maricopa County Medical Center. So on that day, my husband and I headed over to the hospital a few hours before the surgery. The radiology department handle’s all Port a Cath placements and removal surgeries, so after going to the hospital admission desk, I headed over to radiology. But, I almost didn’t have the procedure.
My insurance had changed just before, and unknown to me, required prior authorization for the procedure. One of the radiology admission attendance got on the phone with my insurance company, doing what she could to get the approval. They told her it usually takes a few days to get approval, but they may be able to get it approved today some time. To them, some time usually meant 8 hours or more.
Instead of waiting around, we left. No sooner had we left the parking lot, I received a phone call from the radiology department. They had gotten the approval, and could do the Port a Cath removal as scheduled. So, we headed right back.
When it was time for the procedure, I was picked up in a wheel chair, and take to a prep room. I would be given a local anesthetic, so I would be awake during the entire process. Once ready, I was taken to their operating room, which was different than the other O.R.’s I had been in for my other surgeries.
I laid down on the table, and they set up paper drapes over and around me. This is to keep as much blood off me and the table as possible. It also helps block the patient’s vision of what is going on. People tend to freak out when they see a knife cutting into their skin!
I was given an anesthetic, and once it had taken effect, they started the procedure. Of course, I couldn’t see what was going on, but I could feel something. This anesthetic blocks out all of the pain, yet I could feel the Port a Cath being pulled out. It actually just felt like someone was pulling on my skin.
Once finished, they closed the wound with disolvable stitches, and dressed with gauze. I went into the same prep room for recovery, just for about an hour or so. This is just to make sure that the wound remains closed, and that there are no post-surgery complications. I was given a sack lunch and was released soon after.
The final major surgery in my cancer treatment, would be the removal of the Ommaya port from my brain. Once that was complete, all I would do, and continue to do, is see my oncologist one every 3 months for check ups. And, have CAT scans done ever 6 to 12 months.
I want to thank everyone who read my cancer story during this past 21 day series. If you haven’t read it yet, or would like to read it again, you’ll find all the posts listed here.
Now that everything is completed, I can reflect back and say that, I am stronger for having gone through this situation. And, after waiting over a year after chemo, and waiting through other delays, I was finally able to have my “Port a Cath removal” surgery done.