Portacath removal day!

We arrived at St Georges Hospital very early on Monday 12th December. Walking through those brightly lit hallways again was the strangest feeling. We hadn’t been back there since we were discharged after Eleanor’s diagnosis almost 2 years previously and quite frankly we were both hoping we would never have to go back. It’s sad that you can hold such negative feelings towards a place that saves lives every single day, but like smells that transport you back to a certain time or place, being back in the place where we were given news that changed our lives forever it was hard not to feel angry at it’s very existence.  its a very big busy hospital but the corridors are eerily quiet at 7am.

We went straight to the day surgery ward and were shown to Eleanor’s bed for the day. After the usual paperwork, chats with nurses and long talk with the surgeon we settled ourselves ready for a long day of waiting around. Eleanor was her usual chilled self and didn’t seem worried or concerned about what was about to happen. She had grown quite attached to ‘Porty’ and was asking if she could keep it once it was taken out – thankfully the surgeon told us that wouldn’t be allowed!

The wait wasn’t long and as there was a child who didn’t make it on the day for one reason or another Eleanor was bumped up to second on the surgery list. She was weighed, blood pressure taken and her portacath accessed one last time ready for the anaesthetic to be administered.

The reason this post is called ‘A fond farewell’ is because that little device made those 18+ months in treatment so much more simple. Without it, every single blood test would have meant a needle in a vein. Every single chemo treatment and MRI scan would have meant a cannula. Over time, if accessed regularly, veins harden or just disappear making it extremely difficult to take blood or insert a cannula. All anaesthetic for future MRI scans (until Eleanor can lie still for 45 minutes, awake) will be administered via a cannula but as they are only every 3-4 months it shouldn’t cause any problems. Cannulas bloody hurt. Eleanor hates them but would choose them every time over the alternative, the smelly gas mask!

When we were called to take Eleanor around to theatre, I sat her on my lap and hugged her tight while the doctors and nurses scurried around turning on machines and hooking her up. After a few minutes the button was pressed and I whispered in her ear that I loved her and would see her soon. Feeling her go limp in my arms always takes my breath away for a few moments but I will do it until the day she asks me not to!

Eleanor was probably in theatre just over an hour. Long enough for us to pop and grab some lunch. When they called us to let us know she was out we headed towards recovery and we heard her before we saw her! Unlike her usual sleepy, groggy reaction to waking up from the MRI anaesthetic Eleanor was screaming the place down, she was hysterically crying and trying to sit up. We did all we could to calm her down and let her know we were there but it took a good half an hour before we could take her back to the day ward.

The operation was successful and only one cut had to be made to remove the port, unlike the two that were needed to insert it. Eleanor was sleepy and in pain but we managed to get her to eat a few bits so she could be discharged and we could take her home to recover. A few days off school should do the trick! x,