By Ewan Lill, age 7
I am being treated for leukemia cancer. I have a port in my chest so the nurses can draw blood and give treatments, like red blood cells, platelets, fluids, chemo and medicine. A port is a plastic disc in my chest connected to my veins. It doesn’t hurt. In fact, I like having a port because then I don’t have to get pokes in my arm or finger. My port has to get accessed and de-accessed all the time.
Before I get it accessed, when a needle and tubing is attached to my port, I have to get ready. My mom puts numbing cream on my chest. The cream makes it so I don’t feel the poke of the needle. I cover the cream with Press’N’Seal to keep the cream from smearing on my shirt and then we go to clinic. Once at clinic, I have to take off my shirt and put on a facemask. It is important that I don’t breath germs on my area. I like to wear the big, yellow facemask, not the small one with Mickey Mouse pictures. Now, I am ready to get my port accessed.
I have different nurses almost every day and, every time, I tell the nurses the way I like my port accessed. First, remove the Press’N’Seal. Next, very carefully, wipe the numbing cream off my chest with gauze. Then, it is time to clean my skin with cleaning swabs. There are three swabs. The nurses dab and gently rub the port area with each one. We let the cleaning solution dry for thirty seconds.
It is time to put the needle in and access my port. This used to be the hard part, but now it is easy because I know the numbing cream works. I will say when I am ready. I don’t like to count, I don’t like surprises and I don’t like to see the needle. The nurses keep the needle covered with their hands until I say, “I am ready.” I want the nurses to access my port as fast as possible; the fastest ones can do it in half a second. They put the needle in and my port is accessed!
Finally, it is time to put on dressing. There are at least three different types of dressings. I prefer the soft, white gauze dressing. It comes off the easiest. It should be placed horizontally on my chest, but not on my sensitive skin parts and not too close to my neck. Things with adhesive can really hurt when they are removed. Once the needle and port area are covered with the dressing, only the tubing can be seen. The nurses attach a syringe to the tubing. My blood can finally be drawn.
This is a long story for a short part of my day. I am very tired now, so the de-accessing of my port is another story for another day. I like to know what to expect and how things will feel. Everyone works really hard to make sure everything goes right, including me. People say I am brave. I feel brave now but I didn’t used to feel brave. It took time for me to get to know my story, just like it is taking time for me to get better.
Oh the port accessing. Ewan describes it so well. Only those who watch their children go through it can understand. Sometimes Theo was brave, sometimes he was so angry at us and his nurses. I will never use Press and Seal again. Ewan, thank you for sharing with the world what it means to have your port “accessed”.