Monday, July 20, 2015

I Am A Terrible Cyborg

When the surgeon stated that he would be inserting a mediport in my chest,  my mind just breezed right by the whole topic.  A mediport is a device that allows blood to be drawn and chemotherapy administered in one central location, to eliminate multiple needle sticks.  Also, chemo is not kind to veins, so the larger veins are better for handling those drugs. I got that, but I didn't.  The idea of having a block of plastic inserted in my chest was there, of course, but it wasn't real, or I didn't really want to deal with it at the time. 

Even then, my brain thought a mediport looked like this:
 When it actually looks like this:

When I came out of surgery, and could feel a tube going from this hard round thing in my chest up into my neck, I kind of freaked out.  Tubes?  Nobody said anything about tubes!  I'm a "worst case scenario" person when it comes to some things, and having plastic items inserted into parts of your body brought my anxiety to a boiling point.  Even though intellectually I understood the reasons for the mediport, my emotions did not.  I kept having dreams of the tube in my neck suddenly bursting out of my jugular in the middle of a meeting, or being in a car accident and having the port shattered by an air bag, or lots of other fun scenarios.  I'm sure that my surgeon regretted ever giving me his cell phone number.

And then I just got used to it.  It was certainly much easier and convenient to have them insert a needle into the port than it would have been getting a vein punctured every time. They numbed the area, so I didn't even feel the needle pinch.  Nobody else in the chemo lab seemed to be freaking out over their mediports like I was, and my anxiety seemed silly, even for me.  My worries moved to the back of my head once the side effects of the chemo became very severe, and I was grateful to have the mediport.

I got this cyborg thing, I decided.  I could do this.  Maybe they could just install my phone/computer underneath my skin on my forearm, so that I could just have it with me all the time.  At night I would just "plug in" and recharge.  Easy, right?  I could have some sort of remote feature that let me set the coffee maker to run from my fingertips while I changed the channel on the television. I could unlock and start my car by pointing my finger!  Having some plastic or metal parts could Indeed make life easier in some ways, I thought.

Then one day, the mediport wouldn't work.  They could inject stuff in, like saline, but nothing was coming out.  The nurse worked on me for almost an hour, pumping enough saline into the port for a small aquarium.  She got a little rough in her frustrations, pumping on the syringe and getting nothing but air.   My anxieties came flooding back, because who wouldn't be concerned that the vein right next to your heart is not doing what it is supposed to?   The nurses weren't freaking out, because this happens to them all the time, but I had to take a Xanax. 

The mediport has bugged me ever since.  At first the area around the port became tender, like a bruise.  Understandable, considering.  But the pain persisted, and the tube leading up my chest into my neck seemed swollen, like a rope.  Over the last weeks of chemo, I could feel the tube in my neck every time I turned my head.  My surgeon gave me antibiotics, in case there was an infection,  and explained that sometimes mediports get tiny cracks in them that cause issues.  If I could just hang on until chemo was over, he would take it out, no problem. Outpatient surgery. 

Chemo is over.  My oncologist wanted me to wait a couple of months, and I gave it a good try.  But the area started hurting again, and I feel like I have a nylon rope underneath my skin.  And I just don't feel right with it in there. It's foreign and not truly part of me.  It never was.  I'm not cut out to be a cyborg.  Having plastic or metal parts might work for the Terminator guy, but not for me.  Tomorrow, if everything goes the way I want it, the mediport will be gone, and I can go back to being a non-cyborg, semi-normal, non-descript human type once more.


  1. I would want the dang thing out too. I don't care how good the coffee was every morning. Being a cyborg isn't what it is cracked up to being.

  2. A Xanax? A Xanax? As in ONE? You are my hero momma, cyborg or not!

  3. That is SCARY! Besides, if it ever needs to go back in, they can put in a fresh one that doesn't have cracks and other wear & tear, right?


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