Thursday, July 30, 2009

Half-Way Hump and My New Lady Lump

I got through number 6. That means I am half-way through my scheduled chemo regimen. I've been through a lot and it's quite rewarding to look back at how far I've come. However, the taste in my mouth is bittersweet right now. I know I'm over the hump which is hugely exciting, but I also know that I have a whole new set of what I've already went through that lies ahead. What I can only hope is that it will be easier, more predictable and that I will continue to grow stronger and stronger as the cancer fades away. I know this will be the case. 

The good news is that I made it through my port-a-cath insertion on Wednesday, just hours before my sixth chemo infusion. Right now my chest and neck are extremely sore from the procedure but once that fades I know I'll be forever grateful for this handy-dandy vein access. It hurts to lift or pull anything with my right arm and it's very hard to sleep on it though I've been very tired since Wednesday. My skin feels painfully stretched over this new lump in my chest where the port now sticks out. The muscles around the veins ache where the port line was jammed through. The nurse told me that because I am very thin in my chest area and am also athletic and therefore have strong neck muscles, I'll be much sorer than a little old lady with a lot more flesh and no muscle. My head was turned to the left during the entire procedure and continually forced as they shimmied the plastic little sucker down my major vein - hence the stiff neck. 

The procedure went smoothly starting bright and early Wednesday morning at 7:15 a.m. My nurse was fantastic, so reassuring and understanding. I admit, I was pretty nervous about the whole thing for some reason but she and Craig kept me laughing during all the surgery prep and helped me feel much more at ease -- the Adavan she gave me when she saw that my leg wouldn't stop bopping up and down with anxiety didn't hurt either. It took her a long time to find a viable vein to send my IV into for the anesthesia to enter through. She ended up in my hand, remarking that she wouldn't touch my ruined arm veins "for all the tea in China." This helped to reaffirm my decision to opt for the port. She used a pediatric needle and told me to breath through it. I told her how I never used to be bothered by needles but that now it makes me woozy. She explained that after getting stuck as many times as I have no one can get used to it. It's one thing to get blood drawn once a year, another to get stuck every week. That made me feel better. 

After the port surgery Craig passed the "taking care of Karin baton" to my mom who arrived with some food and to take me to my chemo session. I arrived pretty woozy and tired coming down from my "twilight" state. They gave me a super comfy fleece blanket and I reclined deeply into the chemo throne. It was fantastic having the chemo drugs enter through my port. I felt nothing. No pain from the little needle prick. No burning as the drugs went through. No hot and cold sensations. No arm soreness. I think I can get used to this.

What I don't know that I'll ever get used to is the huge bump that now sticks out of my chest. It looks like a big button that if pressed will do something super cool like release a parachute or shoot out lasers, but unfortunately it does none of that. It just sits there creepily. You can even see the tube of the port-a-cath that now lives within my vein. But this is just par for the course. I've learned to take the bad with the good. It's only temporary and the day this is removed will be a strong symbol representing the end of this battle.  


  1. Hope you are feeling better today. I really enjoyed this blog and the beach therapy! Although the pain might be rough this week, the port-o-cath will be helpful in the end. My dad had one and it worked well. if you're in the passenger seat, watch out for the seat belt!! congrats on making the hump, you're doing it and your blogs are so inspiring/delicious to read!! love you! xoxo Leah W

  2. Karin I'm so proud of you. Reading your blog is eye-opening and very moving. I can't wait to see you next weekend!

  3. Yeah, the seat belt sucks in the passenger seat for the portacath - that's a good point. Already you see the advantage of the port and the veins in your arm will thank you for it. I still have some lingering phlebitis from my early treatments - and that was over a month ago - but things are much better now. Which reminds me that this will all pass in time.

    I also had a lot of nerves around my 6th chemo treatment. You described it well - it is the joy of knowing you are halfway through and the dread of knowing there are that many more to go. But after this, its all downhill from here. Take it from someone who can see only a couple of weeks in your future (#8 for me next week).

    Rest up. Be well. Eat your kale.

  4. Karin - You are the most amazing, beautiful, intelligent and courageous woman I know. Thank you for sharing this journey with all of us who love you. I'm heading down the Cape in the morning for two weeks and the only reason I plan to go to the Chatham library will be to read your blog! xoxo Judy P.S. Darla's magic reflexology can ease the stiff neck, tight muscles.

  5. If you want to beat cancer, you need to see a Reiki practioner in East Asia.

    You must know that you will beat this. Do not hope. Hoping is for the future, and the future never comes. Know you are healed. Think positive at all times. If you think false for a second, quickly correct your mistake. This is important, more then you realize. Positive energy is what is used during the healing process.

    When you leave for East Asia, pray to God for direction when you get there. Ask him where to go. It may seem silly, but if you get a good feeling you should do something; do not second guess.

    Do not forget to bring a picture of yourself. You want to get a picture of your whole body, preferably years before the cancer started.

    Do not forget to read the bible. You will leave that body from old age eventually. When that time comes, your acceptance of Jesus Christ will be the only thing that keeps you from the flames of guilt.