My port placement was scheduled for May 19 at 6:30 in the morning, about the same time that Brian was scheduled to fly back to Illinois. Fortunately his brother, Jonathan , was able to drive him to the airport that morning. Mr. G and I arrived at the outpatient surgery clinic in the hospital, filled out some paperwork and waited, along with a roomful of other patients. A hospital worker came out and said a prayer (this is a Baptist hospital) and shortly thereafter I was called back to prep for the procedure. After disrobing (isn’t that a lovely word?) I attempted to don the gown they had provided but had a devil of a time trying to figure out how to get it on- it seemed designed for someone with more than two arms. With some help from the nurse I finally got in on, along with some lovely little fuzzy lime green socks. The anesthesiologist came in to ask questions about my health and the surgical nurse hooked me up to some monitors. I was finally wheeled across the hall to the operating area where I was transferred onto a narrow table. The doctor came in to tell me not to worry; they were going to take care of me. I wasn’t actually worried up until that point. I told him I’d heard mafia bosses say the same thing in movies and it wasn’t a good thing. The anesthesia nurse began cracking jokes as she put some tubes up my nose and soon I was out like a light. I woke up in the recovery area, where someone came around with a portable x-ray machine, and put a metal plate under me. I discovered later that this was to make sure that the port catheter was placed properly in the vein. All went well and I now have this funny hard bump on my upper chest. It reminds me a little of the stories of alien implants and I envision it one day coming to life and trying to break through my skin. What is really neat, though, is that from now on, no more needle sticks for blood tests or injections- it will all be done through the port. Another neat thing was that I was not allowed to drive, lift anything (not even a skillet, the nurse said) or exert myself for a week, so Mr. G had to wait on me hand and foot. I played that part for all I could get out of it! Mr. G was good humored, though. He bought a package of little plastic minion figures and told me to call them when I needed anything!
Once home, I phoned Dr. Vance’s office to let them know the port was in so they could set me up with the portable pump and coordinate with the radiology dept.. A nurse came on the phone and told me the plan had changed and I would not be getting the radiation therapy after all and would be coming into the clinic for infusions on a different chemo regimen of several drugs in addition to the 5-FU. This of course, freaked me out, since they didn’t give me a reason for the change. Dr. Vance phoned me back, apologized for the lack of communication and explained that the PET scan showed that the spot on my liver was indeed cancer – metastasized form the rectal tumor. Under the circumstances, she and the radiation oncologist had decided that the best course of action would be to try to shrink the tumors with a stronger dose of chemo and forgo the radiation for now. My first chemo treatment was scheduled for May 27 at 8:45 in the morning. I was told to expect to be there for 4 1/2 hours. I was also told that the copay for each chemo session would be between $600 and $700 dollars. That came as quite a shock, but the clinic’s financial adviser told me there was a foundation that covered the co-pays for eligible patients and that she would put in an application on our behalf, so I kept my fingers crossed.