Thursday, April 5, 2012

Power Port

This is what the port looks like. A needle is inserted into the bubbly-plastic looking part outside his skin, and stays in his skin for as long as needed (like an IV). It is taped down and the tubing usually comes out of a special hole in his onesies that his Aunt Kendra made him.

(the other two pointy things in this picture are his ribs! He has protruding ribs! So it's just one port...not three!)

The port has been a huge blessing because Case is almost impossible to access by needle. The special IV teams at the hospital have had a hard time getting an IV started on him. He has one place, in the crook of his left elbow, where blood can be drawn. We put a numbing cream on the port an hour before accessing so that he doesn’t feel pain. It’s funny because the cream is held in place by putting a piece of press-and-seal saran wrap (or plastic wrap) right onto his skin. It surprisingly holds tight! After an hour we take the saran wrap off and it’s numb for about 5 hours.

There is tubing that goes from the plastic bubble and goes up his chest toward his shoulder, does a u-turn, and inserts into an artery. That way they can collect blood, or directly administer drugs. I can actually feel the tubing under his skin.

Case will keep his port in for probably a year, at least, after surgery and if he is clear. The doctors do this in case of a relapse. And also because he will have scans every 3 months and it just makes everything easier. So the port is here to stay for a while.

We have had to readjust the way we pick him up because the line that goes from the port to his artery is right where adults put their hands under a child’s armpit to pick them up. And we have to be careful while wrestling. It’s a small price to pay for such a wonderful invention!

Here the nurses are cleaning and disinfecting the skin with that swab. It needs to be cleaned for 1 minute and then sit for 1 minute to dry.

Then they put the needle in and tape it down! Case is so, so good with accessing and de-accessing! He honestly hardly ever squirms or cries. He is such a champ! What a brave boy!

Case has pulled his port out twice before and it was very traumatic! One time the tape around the port was just not quite tight and he pulled the pin out. Sadly, though, the tape was still on, so that needle was free under the tape to move around and poke his skin. I noticed it because he was fussing and rubbing at his chest. Fortunately only IV fluid was going at the time! We had to clean the area with alcohol (fresh cuts included) and put in a new port without any numbing cream. Poor baby. He did not like that!

The other time he pulled it out was when a nurse was de-accessing his port. Before they take the port out, they always flush the line with saline solution, and then put in some Heparin (an anti-clotting medicine), which will stay in the port and line until the next time he is accessed and the port is flushed. This keeps blood from going into the line and clotting while he doesn’t have his port accessed. The nurse had taken the tape off the port, but was still flushing with IV solution. Case reached down and quick as that, ripped it right out. The bummer was that we had to re-access the port with a new needle just to administer the Heparin! Accessing a new port (without numbing cream) for 2 minutes was not fun!

Other than those two times, he hasn’t had a problem. If he ever gets a fever, the doctors have to assume a port infection straight away and send him to the hospital for antibiotics. I count ourselves blessed to have avoided this. We will continue to go in once a month as long as he has the port to have it flushed and have Heparin put in.

1 comment:

  1. How interesting! What a neat invention! I've always wondered how the port works--now I know!