How does having a port affect my daily life?

Baird Cancer Treatment Port

Many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated needle sticks in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports, so that doctors don’t have to stick you with a needle or restart an IV line every time you need treatment. That makes care easier — and your life easier.

Once you have a port, you may wonder how it will affect your day to day activities. We spoke with Richard Williams, RN, BSN, OCN at Baird Vascular Institute, who said to think of it as you would any medical procedure, “For the first few days, avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities.” Williams continued, “There are folks who like to hunt, or play tennis, or even have a job like a hairdresser where their arms move up and down frequently, for those folks we tell them they need to give the site a chance to heal, to let the skin start coming together and heal.”

Williams added, “We do ask people about their lifestyle and take that into consideration when placing the port. We can put the port on a different side if needed. All these things are discussed with the patient because we know they’re going to have this port for awhile.”

You can even travel with a port. Williams added, “If you do go through an airport scanner, it shouldn’t go off because there’s not metal in the port, but you can pull out a card that we’ll give you and show the agent what the ‘bump’ is in your scan.”

If you’d like to learn more about port and the procedure, we have a whole series of YouTube videos on the topic.

We’ll work with you and your health care team to choose the best long-term IV access option for your situation. Give us a call at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

 

Port Care 101 – 5 things you need to remember

Many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated injections in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports that make your care, and your life, easier.

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’ve had a port procedure.

First, make sure to follow all the detailed instructions that were given to you for taking care of the catheter of port.

Secondly, take extra precautions avoid touching the tip of the catheter and always wash your hands before touching the area for bandage changes or cleaning. Also, it is ok to ask the nurse or any medical professional that is accessing your port to wash their hands in front of you and to always wear gloves.

Watch out for any sign of infections like redness or swelling or other issues such as leaks or blockages. Notify your physician immediately if you experience any of those issues.

Don’t be afraid to contact your physician if you have a question. We specialize in placing a wide variety of vein access devices and are here to address your concerns.

Finally – live your life. Having a port is supposed to make your life a little easier while undergoing treatment. With a few modifications, you can expect to resume relatively normal activities during this period of treatment.

To share or not to share? Social media and your cancer diagnosis.

VCU Baird Social Media Cancer

There is very little information in today’s world that can’t be found by a few strokes of a keyboard. Information is literally at our fingertips in an instant. Social media feeds expose us to additional sources of information and opinion that we might not otherwise seek out. Social media also allows us to instantly share information across our broad network of friends and family.

When you receive the diagnosis of cancer, it is overwhelming. Most people need time to absorb the news and consider the implications of their diagnosis on their life, their family and their friends. Once the initial shock passes, many struggle with how to, or whether they should, share their cancer diagnosis beyond those in their immediate circle.

Sharing your diagnosis is a deeply personal choice. Some people live their life as an open book, and the cancer diagnosis is simply another chapter that they share as any other bit of news. Some people are more private, preferring to keep such details of their life out of everyday conversation.

Social media brings another element into the decision. Information can spread immediately, and whether or not you choose to keep your diagnosis private, there are a few things to consider.

If you’re requesting privacy, be sure to let any friends and family know that you prefer the news stay out of the social world. Some people send prayer requests or other updates without meaning any harm, but still expose your private situation to the eyes of others, prompting questions.

If you choose to share your journey on social media, be prepared for the inevitable questions and notifications from your friends and followers. Choosing to share such information has benefits and disadvantages. Sharing your condition may help dispel rumors. You benefit from supporters and their positive messages, you may find new information about treatments and clinical trials, and form bonds with survivors and other cancer patients.

“When my mother recently was diagnosed with cancer we shared as a way to stay connected to so many people,” said Shelley Hartmann, daughter of a breast cancer survivor. “The more prayers you have, I believe, does help you get better. It did help to stay connected, as we found so many other people that had similar situations, and it was a way for my mother to talk to them and discuss different treatments, etc.,” she added.

Keep in mind, however, that sharing your diagnosis may mean personal questions from well-meaning friends and family regarding your symptoms, treatments, prognosis and other information.

Also, once you have chosen to share the information, it can’t be taken back. You may choose to stop communicating about it, but the news is still out there, and your friends and followers will, naturally, continue to be concerned about your health. Be certain of your decision.

For those who are somewhere in the middle of an open book and intensely private, some social media platforms allow you the option to share information with only a select group of contacts, which may be more comforting for some, rather than broadcast their news to their entire friend or follower group. If you don’t know how to restrict your information to certain groups, ask a social media proficient friend or family member to help you set up this option.

Navigating the frontier of personal news in the age of social media can be a big decision with many implications. When it comes to sharing a cancer diagnosis, there’s no right or wrong choice. Only you can decide if your social network will be an additional unwanted burden or provide support and comfort during your journey.

Maintaining good health through the stressful holiday season.

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Let’s face it, even though the holidays are full of wonderful memories with family and friends, they are stressful. Adding gift shopping, cooking and travel to our already jam-packed lives can leave you feeling exhausted and stressed – not joyful and merry. We often take all this stress for granted, but too much can leave us feeling cranky, tired and trigger depression. The holiday season can be hard on many levels, but if you happen to also be dealing with health issues such as cancer, the holidays can indeed take a toll on your health as well.

Before things get overwhelming, here are some tips to consider as we head into this busy, but wonderful time of year.

Keep a calendar. Keep track of must-attend events and travel dates and accept/decline additional invites around those most important ones. Set priorities around things you want to achieve and be realistic with what’s possible.

Remember it’s OK to say no. Once your calendar starts to fill up, it’s entirely acceptable to politely decline invitations. This also goes for volunteer requests, social events, church events and traveling. Carefully schedule your appointments, and listen to your body when it needs rest.

Stay on budget. Sometimes we go all-out in the attempt to find the perfect gift. There is rarely a perfect gift. Maintain your budget and January’s stress will be greatly reduced.

Ask for help. You don’t have to take it all on yourself. Children can wrap gifts, decorate cookies and help more around the house during this time of year. You could also combine a get-together with friends or family with a gift-wrapping night or a cookie swap. If you need help with things like decorating, ask friends to come over and help and offer an afternoon of catching up and cocoa and cookies when they’re finished.

Watch what you eat and drink. The holidays are filled with delicious food and opportunities to over indulge. It’s certainly fine to enjoy yourself, but too much over indulgence can be bad for your waistline, and too much alcohol can make for misery the following day. Remember to take it easy, drink lots of water, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as an option during the meals. If you’re able to exercise, continue your exercise plan throughout the holiday season.

Take time to enjoy the season. Take time for reflection and pause to remember loved ones near and far. Counting your blessings is one way to deflect all the pressure and stress the season brings. Enjoy those around you.

 

Can a child have a port? What are the advantages?

Ports are one option for people who, for one reason or another, need frequent IV access for fluids, medications, blood draws or lab checks. Even young children can have a port.

There are many benefits for all patients, including safety, comfort and infection control, but for children, the ease of access is probably the biggest benefit. One of the more common reasons to have a port is for chemotherapy. If a child has cancer, the frequent need for medication, blood draws and other procedures involving needles may seem overwhelming and stressful for the child.

Because children are often very fearful of needles, and having a port minimizes instances of difficult IV access, or physicians or nurses having difficulty getting to veins. The port area can be numbed, reducing discomfort, and the number of “sticks” are reduced greatly by having a port.

In addition, having a port does not interfere with the daily activities of the child, and they can continue many physical activities without fear of affecting the site.

There are other options for vein access, but having a port in place is a great way to have a safe, reliable and low maintenance option.

Pediatric port procedures are typically done at locations that specialize in pediatric patients. Contact your child’s physician to see availability in your area.

How long should a port placement take, and what should I expect?

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VCU Baird Vascular Institute is strictly an outpatient facility, meaning that with all procedures, you should be able to go home the same day. The procedures and recovery time can vary from 45 minutes to a few hours, depending on your unique case. Generally, a port placement takes between 1 to 2 hours.

You may be given medication to help you relax. For the procedure, two incisions are made, one in the chest and one near the collarbone. A needle will be inserted into the skin, creating a tunnel. The port is placed in the tunnel with the tip of the catheter in a large vein near the heart. Imaging equipment will help the physician find the best location for your port placement. You will be monitored by a physician and nurse before, during and after the procedure.

 

Source: Hopkinsmedicine.org

What are some clothing options to cover my port?

When considering clothing options during any kind of treatment that requires a port, it’s important to remember not to choose any articles of clothing that bind or restrict excessively, to prevent any damage to the line.

If you want to detract away from the visibility of the port, choose clothing options that are patterned to help camouflage the area. For women, consider fabrics that drape loosely around the neckline, or have pin tucks, gathers or small pleats. For men, a t-shirt worn under a button up shirt helps to smooth out the area.

If you prefer, there are garment manufacturers that make clothing pieces that are attractive, functional and allow for easy access to a variety of port locations. Here are some options that are available online:

The craft and handmade site Etsy features a number of adaptive clothing alternatives via a search of “adaptive clothing for chemo.” Here is one example.

The key is to find clothing that you can feel comfortable and confident wearing, while still keeping the area of the port uncompromised. As with many daily activities a patient with a significant illness encounters, doing what works best for you, while still maintaining comfort is the goal.