What a great healthcare team! Yesterday afternoon four skilled and caring nurses give great care at my chemo appointment (you can read that blog post here), and yesterday evening my terrific oncologist, Dr. Garth Nicholas of The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre, read that blog post and reached out. We exchanged messages so I could ask questions about the pro’s and con’s of ports and PICC lines. I was pretty sure I would go with a port line before messaging with Dr. Nicholas, but it was good to hear his thoughts in addition to the information in the brochures the nurse gave me yesterday afternoon. Even before the conversation he thought I would want the port line because he pays attention and knows me well enough to know.
Yesterday evening Dr. Nicholas submitted the request for a port line, so it’s already (!) in process and I’m very thankful. There are no guarantees since the request needs approval from the appropriate team for the procedure to take place. I’m very grateful to Dr. Nicholas for submitting the request so quickly and advocating for the port line in that request. Health care providers matter. Advocacy matters. Thank you, Dr. Nicholas, for being an advocate.
It took four nurses a total of seven pokes to access a vein for chemo this afternoon. The nurses were all kind and skilled. (They say my veins like to hide, and that sometimes happens in people who have been treated for cancer for a long time.) I asked for information about ports and PICC lines, which are alternative options to getting poked so many times. One of the nurses put in a note for my oncologist requesting him to have a conversation with me about this. Another nurse brought me pamphlets with more information about both of these options. I’ll read them carefully in preparation for talking with my oncologist.
It’s not usually this hard to get a vein. Typically it takes about three pokes, but occasionally, like three weeks ago, the nurse connects on the first try. (Merry Christmas!)
Getting poked frequently is part of the rhythm of chemo life. Blood work (poke) on Wednesday, chemo (unknown number of pokes) on Thursday … every three weeks. The nurses are skilled and kind, and apologetic when they can’t get a vein. I thank them for doing their job well and remind them (and myself) that chemo and their care is saving my life, so getting poked is definitely worth it.
Today I asked what the record number of pokes was in their unit: 12. So, keeping things in perspective, it went pretty well. They found a vein, so I didn’t have to be sent home without chemo. It only took 7 pokes. It only took 4 nurses. The chemo all went in the way it should, and is working to help keep me alive. I’m now home, feeling well, and very thankful for nurses and the kind and skilled care they give.