Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Porta-Cath Removal

This entry is part 29 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

My port was removed on the 25th of February. This proved to be a much less involved procedure than having it put in was. The female physician’s assistant (at least, I think she was a physician’s assistant) who put my port in did the removal.

For this, she took me to a private room. After verifying everything, she had me remove my shirt and bra and I settled on the abbreviated exam bed/table while she laid everything out. Since my right breast was of some small concern, I asked if she wanted to tape it down; she refused, and we figured out a way to restrain it using the sheet she covered me with.

Next, she injected a numbing agent into my skin and the tissue around the port in my chest. Once everything was numb, she reopened the scar I had from my cath placement, asking me if I felt anything. I said I didn’t. Next, she explained tissue grows around the cath, so she had to cut that away, and she proceeded to do so. I told her I felt pulling and pressure but no pain, and she advised me to tell her if I felt any pain and she’d give me more of the numbing agent. She went on to add that some people stitch the cath into place, as it has holes just for such purpose, but that she doesn’t. It was at this point I realized she had placed my porta-cath, while the attending physician simply oversaw things and responded to my questions, so I asked if she’d done many of these procedures, and she told me she’d done a few hundred each of placements and removals.

By this time, she had the tissue all cut away and pressed on my neck where the tube entered my jugular vein. She didn’t press hard, and I felt nothing when she pulled the cath out. For a moment, I saw it, but she quickly put it down out of my sight and picked up a gauze pad to mop up the blood which had come out. She held her fingers on my jugular until she was certain it wouldn’t bleed.

After this, she stitched me shut. Now, I felt pinpricks of pain with this, and she explained that may be because the scar tissue from the last incision may not have adequately absorbed the numbing agent (I want to call it Novocain, but I know that wasn’t it). Last time, a kind of pimple developed at one end of the scar as it healed, so this time she made sure to tuck the sutures in well enough it wouldn’t happen again. Final step was bandaging the wound; she did this with a Tegaderm Film patch which she’d stuck a folded gauze pad in the center of.

After I’d dressed and was afoot once more, I asked to see the porta-cath and she showed me what it looked like. It had a drum-shaped reservoir-section where the injections are made through a special substance which doesn’t allow things in or out. The bottom did indeed have three holes for suturing the cath in place, and the tube was about six inches long; as the physician’s assistant explained it, this is so the tube can go deep into the vein so there’s no chance of the chemo chemicals escaping. Basically, they go almost right into the heart. I thanked her for being willing to explain everything and she sent me on my way with a compliment about how good a patient I’d been.

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1 Comment

  1. Fascinating!

    When I was in the hospital after my accident, they put a port in me, but they put it on the left side of my chest, below the clavicle a couple of inches, and just off the sternum. It wasn’t stitched into place, but it might have been simpler than yours — mine didn’t have to survive in the real world, just in the hospital.

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