Friday, 30 August 2013

Stage IV Snapshot -- Emergency?

None of us wants to go to the Emergency Room, but Tuesday night I was pretty sure I should. A sore erupted on the edge of my Port-a-Cath. That's not just unsightly. The catheter could take the infection straight into my bloodstream. I've been septic before and don`t want to risk it again. (Can you guess I spent some time with Dr. Google while waiting for a home care nurse to return my call?)

I have had persistent bruising at my port site, particularly to one side. It just wouldn't disappear between treatments, which are every three weeks. In fact, at my last treatment, I'd discussed it with my chemo nurse. She didn't have any advice for me. Earlier this week, I noticed that there seemed to be a small sore over the bruised area. I showed it to my Sweetie and we both said "hmm?" We were on our way to Montreal for a short visit and thought nothing more of it. Then when we returned to Ottawa I took a closer look at it after getting out of the shower. It was now clearly infected. The home care nurse wasn't sure what to make of it and wouldn't be able to see me until midnight or later. I called my family doctor's after-hours service and that nurse was more definitive: I should have a doctor examine it within the next four hours. Great.

We asked my daughter to hastily repack her backpack for a spur of the moment sleepover at my mom's and off we went to the hospital. Four hours later, the ER doctor assured me that I had no signs of sepsis, but certainly needed antibiotics, starting with an immediate double dose. He also suggested I give the Cancer Centre a look at it the following day. The nurse dressed the wound with antibiotic cream and gave me enough Cloxacillin that we didn't have to stop at the pharmacy on the way home. Instead we were allowed a few hours of sleep.

The next day, my Patient Designated Nurse put me in touch with Sheryl of the hospital's Port Team. She was able to meet with my when I came early for an unrelated specialist appointment (verdict of that after three months and two hours of waiting: no hip surgery). Sheryl has arranged for daily nursing to change the wound dressing. And she broke the news that my Port-a-Cath probably needs to come out. I now have an appointment next Tuesday to have it examined. It sounds like the infection needs to have subsided before they will risk the surgery. Whether they will put a new port in at the same time, I don't know. All I can tell you is that I`ve learned a few things in my ten months with my Port-a-Cath:
  • The ones on the left side have more problems.
  • Bruising isn't normal.
  • And sometimes they erode the skin over top them.


  1. I realize it's been a couple weeks, but I just want to let you know that you should take probiotics and/or kafir and yogurt while on antibiotics. I, too, have been septic and the reason was c-diff, a colon infection which is caused by antibiotics, and is one of those "superbug infections" that everybody is worried about. I'm a Stage IV cancer patient who can't take antibiotics anymore - not a good thing to be!

    Hope you are feeling better.

    1. I tried to eat yogurt, but I had no appetite at all. Nausea had started before the antibiotics...from the infection?

      I followed your battle with c-diff and don't want to try it myself. I worry about it nearly every time I go to the hospital.

      So glad to hear you're crafting again. "May you live all the days of your life." ~Kate