Port Placement – An Exercise in Lucid Dreaming

by Heather

ImageIn my high school psychology class, I was encouraged (don’t remember if that was actual or assumed by me) to practice lucid dreaming.  I got pretty good, and have recently realized that that’s when I mostly stopped falling, and started flying.  I LOVE my flying dreams!

I’ve had a total now of 4 surgeries as an adult.  The last one was 7 days ago – the port placement for the impending chemo treatments I’ll be enduring this fall & winter.  For the first 3 surgeries, I have no recollection of “going under”.  I simply could not remember a thing beyond being completely conscious & aware of myself & my surroundings.  So, this last time I applied some techniques for lucid dreaming, only in reverse, I guess, to try to remember what it was like to go out.

I mentioned my not remembering to my Surgeon.  (My Smiling Breast Surgeon happens to be the Go To Guy for port placements in the Area, so I already had a rapport with him and really lucked out in the bargain).  He said to me, “You won’t remember any of this either.”  Wanna bet? I thought to myself.  So I noted the details of the O.R.  Doctor Surgeon standing on my right this time.  Doctor Anesthesiologist (again, the same one I had for the Lumpectomy) calmly talking to me and calling me “Honey”.  The metal “hatch” directly over head on the otherwise acoustic panel ceiling.  Interestingly, this time, I don’t remember the time on the clock the last time I looked at it.  Later, the sensation of falling backwards as Anesthesiologist told me he was giving me something to make me relax – I didn’t remember that last time.  To which I replied, “Ah, so THAT’s why I feel like I’m falling backwards.”  Then either Anesthesiologist or Surgeon mentioning something about the operating table being adjustable.  And then the mask.  Breathing in deep… and out, rather like a sigh.  Several times in.  Several times out.

Again, interestingly, it not only worked, obviously, for the pre-op going out, but also for the post-op waking up.  I remember being visited by both the Surgeon and Anesthesiologist (or maybe they were still there) this time upon regaining consciousness – but not any time previous.

But, I digress.

This port placement, a relatively minor surgery, was a bear from which to recover for me.  Let me show you what happens when you bend the pre-op rules, and take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen, in my case, to be rid of a nausea-inducing headache), a few days prior to a surgeon accessing your jugular and superior vena cava:


Yes, it looks like someone beat me fairly badly.  The photo above is after one or two days.  The bruises hurt WAY worse than the incision sites.


The hardest part was that when I hold Buba, I usually hold him in my left arm, and he’s left handed and likes to “pat” me in the chest, I guess to assure himself that I’m really here, since his vision is variable and not reliable nor predictable.  His “pats” are more like ninja nerve-deadening jabs, and are propelled by a strong child with only moderate ability to modulate his movements.  Ouch.  Ouch = Grumpy Momma.  I mostly just avoided holding him for the weekend, and finally got to the point where I would hold him, only if I had an ice pack in place over the bruises.  Pain, unfortunately, is a very effective teacher.

I’m not sure if it was the bruising or the operation itself, but I felt like I had a kink in my neck for a few days.  The healing hematomas itched like a sunburn, and the tightness of the surgical glue felt like the dying skin that goes along with it.  I had a hard time getting to sleep because I’m a side-lier and usually sleep on my right and THAT hurt. Yep, I was purely miserable for a few days.

A week later, thanks to my ice packing habit, the bruises are all but gone (the lower one is only a yellow stain that has migrated down into my right boob, and the top one is just a little discoloration where it appears the purplest in the photo above).  I feel nearly normal now.