(Warning: Some readers may find the photos in this post to be a bit, um, gross. Just a heads up!)
As some of you may know, I have been really sick over the last couple of weeks. Well, sicker than normal for me. It all started last September when I had surgery to have a PORT-A-CATH placed in my left upper chest so that I could continue to receive IV fluids of Normal Saline on a regular basis. Normal Saline has lots of salt and is supposed to help keep my vascular space more full. This in turn is supposed to keep my blood pressure a little higher and help keep me from passing out when I stand….at least that’s the theory. We have been doing this for over a year, but in the beginning we had to use peripheral sites like my hands, wrists, forearms, upper arms, etc. We even had to resort to using my lower extremities because we ran out of anything to use elsewhere.
I just didn’t have any useful veins left. Plus, I wound up with a blood clot in my right leg which was thought to possibly be related to one of the IV sites in my ankle and/or a very long car ride to and from VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER where I receive some of my care. So, as an absolute last resort, I had my very first port put in on September 22nd of last year, which was my husband’s and my 18th wedding anniversary. Wow, what an awesome anniversary present, huh?!?
(Here’s an example of what my port looks like. The circular part is called the portal and has a silicone bubble (the septum) for needle insertion. The long, skinny tube is a catheter that runs from the portal and is inserted into a large vein. Once inserted, the tip of the catheter sits just inside the superior vena cava, just upstream from the right atrium of the heart.)
The surgery went fine. It only took about 15 minutes in the operating room (OR) under CONSCIOUS SEDATION and then it was in. After that, everything went fine with the port until April 20th when I suddenly became very, very sick. Every time we would flush my port or begin to run any fluids through it, approximately 20-30 minutes later, I would have extremely violent chills and my temperature would spike very high. At first, we did not realize the connection with the port so I had several of these horrible episodes and each one was worse than the one before it. At one point my fever was 105. After several days, it was determined that my port was infected and that I was SEPTIC. Each time we used the port, small pieces of bacteria were breaking off and going out into my system and then I would have that horrible reaction. I don’t think I’ve ever been that sick in my life!
I spent 5 days in the hospital on IV antibiotics and fluids. They had to do their very best to use peripheral sites again because of the port being infected. My veins are so poor and they just would not tolerate an IV for long, especially with all the strong antibiotics and the Phenergan I needed for nausea and vomiting. They finally determined that I had E-coli growing in my port. That was very unusual as ports that are infected usually grow much different bacteria. The doctors explained that I apparently had E-coli somewhere else in my body and that the bacteria got into my bloodstream and then started to colonize in my port. So, on April 28th, they finally took the port out and let me come home that day.
Once I was home, I had a bad reaction to the surgical dressing. I am allergic to most all tapes. All the skin around my surgical site had become extremely raw and was really hurting. We weren’t supposed to remove the dressing but we just had to.
After some much needed recovery time, I went back in on May 22nd to have another port placed, this time on the right side of my chest. Everything went fairly well until Tuesday, June 30th. Then, we started all over again with chills and fever. I will tell you more about that in my next post.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope to see you again soon. Please leave a comment if you have a minute, just so I know you’ve been here. You may do so by clicking below this post where it says ‘HEARTFELT COMMENTS’. You don’t have to sign up for an account or give any personal information. Where it says ‘Choose an Identity’, you can choose ‘Anonymous’ and then leave your name at the bottom of your message OR you can choose ‘Name/URL’ and then just put your name and leave URL blank. It’s REALLY easy! If I can figure out how to blog, you can leave a comment, I promise! Regardless, if you don’t leave a comment, I’m still glad you stopped by!
Have a wonderfully blessed day!
(You may click on any of the photos on my blog to enlarge them.)