This is the heart monitor that I wore for a little over a month! The cell phone had to stay with me at all times because the heart monitor sends it's information to a computer through the phone. Alarms would go off all the time for no reason. I put those circles on my stomach and chest and then attach the wires to them. I'm allergic to the circular pads which meant I had hives those wonderful 5 weeks!
My port is on the right side of my chest (opposite of my heart). You can actually see the tubing that goes from my port to my neck and then to my heart. You can see it right under the skin.
The port is attached and tied to the muscle in my chest. My mom and I had to go through training to be able to access the port at home by ourselves. Obviously this is taken very seriously since we are putting a 1 inch needle in my chest, that connects to my heart and has to be completely sterile. This procedure is not taken lightly.
First my mom puts on a mask and gloves. They aren't sterile gloves for this part. The first thing we do when accessing my port is cleaning the skin in a circular motion with three different sterile clothes with the Hydrogen Peroxide.
While that dries we prime the needle. That means that you take the needle connected to a line and push saline through the line to get all the air bubbles out. You can only touch the end opposite of the needle because the needle has to stay sterile.
Priming the needle
The syringe on the left is the saline that we prime the needle with. When I'm done with an IV and the needle and line is still in, I take the syringe of saline and flush the line again. Then I take the syringe on the right and flush it through the line. The syringe on the right is Heparin. That is the most important part to make sure that I don't get a blood clot in my port and line.
Once we prime the needle and the Hydrogen Peroxide dries, we take 3 more sterile cloths and clean the skin with Alcohol in a circular motion.
While the Alcohol dries, my mom switches from regular gloves to sterile gloves. There is a certain way to put on gloves so that it is completely sterile.
Once the sterile gloves are on, she carefully picks up the needle and line. Then she grabs my port on both sides with one hand and pushes the 1 inch needle in my port with the other hand. She has to push very hard because it has to go through the skin and a mesh material to get into the port. Once she thinks she's in she takes the syringe of saline and puts a little saline in and then pulls back on the syringe to see if the needle is in the port. When she pulls back we are looking for blood return. All that means is that when she pulls the syringe back, blood should come out, meaning that the needle is in place! If we don't get blood return, that means that the needle isn't in the port, which means you start all over! In the actual port, there is blood that just sits there. That is why the Heparin(blood thinner) is so important.
Here is my mom putting the needle in. You have to grab the port by the sides and push really hard to get the needle in. You can see how much the needle sticks out of my skin.
Here's the needle in with the tube that connects to the IV or whatever you put in your port. Once we get blood return we put a dressing over the needle and port to make sure it all stays sterile and holds the needle in.
Once I'm done with the IV and I flush it with saline and Heparin, my mom puts on new sterile gloves and we take the dressing off the port, my mom grabs the port again and applies pressure and pulls the needle out. You have to pull really hard to get the needle out since it is in several layers of things. When you put the needle in and take it out, you have to make sure and hold the port firmly or the port will flip over and move around and that would obviously be horrible!
This is all the mess after accessing my port!
That is the whole process! I do this about every other day! There is no easy or quick way to access my port. This is what we have to do every time.
Sometimes I leave the needle in longer than a day if I am going to do an IV two days in a row. It can't get wet which is a challenge. I don't like to leave it in though because the needle hurts all the time when it is in. When you're in the hospital they can leave the needle in up to 5 days but then they have to do this process all over to put a new needle in. The longer you leave it in, the greater risk there is for infection.