Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Bumblee Bee Port

Yesterday Grace had her port placement surgery. We were up at 5:30 to get ready for the big day. Grace, who's been a ninja through everything, was very concerned about it. Mostly she was worried about what they call "accessing the port," which is what we call "the bumble bee sting." The port is an under-the-skin access that has tubes going directly into her heart, similar to the PICC. When the "bee" isn't in Grace can bathe and swim and even go to the beach when she's not accessed. When it's time to access, the "bee" has a pretty substantial stinger, but thankfully they use a topical anesthetic to numb it. She's heard of the "magic numbing cream" but hasn't used it yet and is still very worried accessing her port.

We got to the hospital at eight in the morning yesterday. We're used to the smaller surgery center on the seventh floor where Grace gets her nearly-weekly lumbar and bone marrow aspirations. We were in for a bit of a shock with the full surgery center here. First you admit with the admitting. Then you register with registration. Then you wait in the downstairs waiting room until the nurses can bring you in for a blood draw. Then you wait in the surgery waiting room until your lab results come back. After you go upstairs to the second floor where you wait in the pre-op area. Finally after two hours Grace was taken back for surgery. Chad and I then went downstairs back into the surgery waiting room. Then nurse brought us back up to the parent's consultation waiting room until we could be with Grace as she woke up from anesthesia. After an hour in post-op we were able to bring a very hungry girl home around three in the afternoon.

During the whole process the smell of tater tots and rubbing alcohol remained constant. Chad and I both agreed that the cold consultation waiting room felt like a sci-fi movie, like a bermuda triangle or vortex, like an in-between space where neither time or space actually existed, while we waited for nurses to bring us news about Grace, but otherwise we were totally cut off from technology and people. Also there is an automatic door on that floor that opens every three seconds that sounds like the muffled primal screams of a baby in trauma. It took me three heart pounding minutes to figure out it was just the door.

Today we're back in the Infusion Center for more chemo, and they're using her new port. Tomorrow we'll be back for another lumbar with chemo in the smaller surgery center. She was pretty tired at six this morning and has been cranky at the nurses, but overall she's still smiling a lot and seems pretty up. I'm pretty amazed at what this little girl of mine can handle. She's a real ninja.

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