Meet Sid, affectionately named after the lovable sloth in the Ice Age films. Sid sits just right of centre on my chest, the only outward sign of the port inserted into my chest for chemo.
Because the type of chemo I am having involves having a pump at home with you for 3 days, it was recommended by my oncologist that I have a port inserted to avoid unnecessary damage to my veins. I agreed mostly because with each new surgery, the veins became more stubborn and difficult to find.
The actual port looks like this…
It’s inserted under the skin and a catheter travels up over your collar bone and into your jugular vein. During chemo a needle is inserted into the clear silicon area in the middle to deliver the most toxic cocktail (and hangover) I’ll ever have.
I was warned that the port does bulge under the skin and is quite obvious, but there is no outwardly visible signs of mine it is so flat. Most medical staff have commented on its odd location and the fact you can’t see it. (If only it lit up like Iron Man’s arc reactor!)
Whilst overall it’s a blessing, it took nursing staff 5 goes to get the needle in the first time. I’ve never had a problem with needles but I quickly discovered, needles in your chest hurt!
Most of the time, I don’t notice it’s there. Our 4 year old often looks at the scar and tells me it’s made of plastic. No amount of explanation can convince him otherwise! Sometimes he pokes around to find the main part of the port and other times he runs his finger over my neck where you can feel the end of the catheter. He’s braver than most because most people freak out about it!
As with all surgeries, my vascular surgeon advised me that there would be a scar. “I once had an older patient who sent me a letter and a photo of her chest telling me that I had ruined her life and her cleavage by leaving the scar.” Some people struggle with the fact that life-saving measures often leave a mark.
At first I was somewhat self-conscious of covering Sid up, mostly because it makes people uncomfortable. You can see them staring and wanting to ask, but knowing that technically it’s none of their business. Now I’m not fussed. In comparison to the scar I’ll have after the big surgery, this one is just a baby!
And at least in the hard times when I don’t feel like smiling, I know Sid will.