What Was Having A Port Like?

One of my articles “What does chemo feel like” recently came out on our website, and it seemed like a lot of people appreciated having some insight into what it could entail. So I thought I would add what having my port installed and living with it for a few months was like as well.

Installation of the port

They say having a port put in is so much more difficult than getting it out. I was told I would need a port for chemo so that they wouldn’t have to continuously stick the veins in my arms. Not only would that be tedious, but it could make my veins not work as well...and that would be a whole thing.

So, they did a test to make sure that my heart was strong enough to even have a port installed and, I think, also withstand the chemo itself. I believe this was done by an ultrasound.

Then once that was cleared, they gave me some special body wash to use. I think this was to disinfect anything on my skin. Then on another day, I went into outpatient surgery, was put under, and had it inserted into my chest and one of my heart valves (or something).

Hated the thing

The port had a round part that sat right under my skin. It was about the size of a quarter, and you could see the shape outlined right under the surface.

I honestly hated it from day 1. For multiple reasons:

  1. It freaked me out. I could barely look at my chest for months.
  2. I wasn’t allowed to get it wet so showering was a whole ordeal.
  3. I was just so angry I had to have it in the first place.

But I must admit it did make receiving the chemo so much easier. There was a small inch and a half scar from the insertion site. But otherwise no other cuts.

Doing its job

It’s a little hard to remember what it looked like, but I remember the nurses would put some sort of needle into my port site. They would clean the skin first and then numb it for me and then a short stick into the skin and they could access my veins.

They would put some saline in first which I could usually taste. It wasn’t a bad taste, just weird. Then they would start the chemo. It barely ever hurt. It was still annoying though, being hooked up to all the tubes.

I think I had one in my hand for some reason as well but I might be remembering wrong.

What the port felt like

I think I was probably always aware that the port was in my chest. I could feel it through my shirt because it stretched my skin out a little bit and that would push against the fabric.

I guess I could also explain it as an extra pressure or maybe very small weight. But again, it’s been a while so I don’t know if that’s what I would have exactly said then. But probably something very close if not.


I was so happy when it was time to get it out.

Now like I said at the beginning they told me removal was easier because I was freaking out at the hospital. They would not put me to sleep to get it out. I don’t know about you but having someone cut into my chest and take something out that’s connected to my heart, the thing that keeps me alive, wasn’t something I wanted to be coherent for.

They kept telling me it was fine and they would numb my skin. LIKE THAT WOULD DO ANYTHING. Geeze guys desensitized much? I had to fight just to get some drugs to calm me down. To this day I don’t know what they were thinking.

But I did get it out and I was fine. Though at the end I could start to feel him stitching me back up so more drugs were needed. (I wasn’t complaining.) I now have a small scar from where it was.

Warm wishes! Katelynn <3

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