Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Time To Heal

Remember last week's five pound gain and the frustration that went along with it? Yesterday I was finally able to get to the office for my unfill.

If you'll remember, I got a 1.0 cc fill a little over two weeks ago (on April 6th) wherein I couldn't even get water down for most of that weekend. Five days later, I went in for a slight unfill of 0.5 cc. I was afraid to take the whole 1.0 cc out because I didn't want to have paid for nothing, and I felt like I truly needed a fill at the time. 

Suffice it to say that 0.5 cc was not enough. I was PBing at almost every meal. I was unable to eat any sort of meat. I could get down liquids and most soft/mushy foods, but I'm not a person who can live like that for extended periods of time (And you shouldn't have to with the band. That's not how it's supposed to work.) So I would keep trying the meat - small bites, chewchewchew, eat slowly, and still get stuck and PB. Almost every time. So what was happening is that my band/stomach/pouch/esophagus were constantly inflamed and angry with me because they were never getting a chance to heal from all the PBing I was doing. 

So like I said in my previous post, I went into this appointment yesterday with a plan: unfill A LOT and stay that way for a month to allow my body to heal. Fortunately, Kim wholeheartedly agreed with my plan. Unfortunately, Kim was the one who was going to perform my unfill. 


But I'll get to that in a second. 

According to their numbers (which I don't agree with) I had 8.75 cc in my band. My calculation is that I actually had 10 cc yesterday before the unfill. But anyway, we were going off of her numbers, so I told her that I'd be okay with her taking half out. She agreed to take 4 cc out of my band and thought it was a very good idea to give myself a month to heal at that level. 

And then, out came the needle(s). 

Kim's first several fills with me were painless. One stick and in and out in a matter of seconds. Then something happened and she just wasn't getting it right. Several sticks and lots of mini pokes while the needle was in my stomach, but not in my port. And lots of alarm-raising scraping of the plastic sides of my port. Trust me, that feeling is NOT something I wish to repeat. And yet, every time I see Kim, I get to repeat it. 

For my first unfill (on 4/10), she had to stick me twice, and did the zillion-little-sticks thing and scraping-the-plastic thing for a bit before she was finally able to get in my port.

I noticed afterward that she was sticking me right above my port scar each time that she was having difficulty. Previously, when she (and Kristina) were able to get my port in one stick, the spot was right under my port scar. So, hoping to not have to go through this un-fun process, I mentioned this to her. Luckily, she's a nice, fun lady and didn't take this as me trying to tell her how to do her job. She seemed really surprised and felt around for my port again. She kept saying that it felt like it was right above the scar, and I kept telling her that all I knew was that when they're successful, the sticks are right under the scar. 

She stuck me once - and got nothing. A zillion little sticks and scrapes later, and she told me I could put my feet down (they have you lift your legs a couple inches to make the port easier to find) and rest for a minute. Raising your feet a few inches off the table for a sustained period of time is a surprisingly tough workout! 

She stuck me twice - and got nothing. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. At one point, she told me to relax and we were talking, and I didn't realize that she hadn't actually taken the needle out of my stomach. I looked down as we were chatting away, and there it was, just poking out of my body (with her holding on to it, of course). Strange. After resting for another minute or so, she tried again. Still nothing. 

She stuck me three times - and got something. Unfortunately, the something that she got was the plastic side of my port. She jammed the needle right into the damn thing! After pulling on the syringe and not getting any liquid, she realized that it wasn't in the right spot and went back to her usual practice of a zillion little sticks and a zillion little scrapes. 

Eventually, she found the damn thing and I (very literally) breathed a sigh of relief. She took out 4 cc, and all of a sudden I started feeling a really painful pinch in the area. I kept saying "Ow! Ouch! What are you doing?!" and she looked at me like I was crazy. Turns out, what she was doing was pulling the needle out of my port and stomach. The BENT needle. Ask me how it feels to have a bent needle pulled out of you. Go ahead. 


Apparently, when she jammed the damn thing into the side of my port, she did it hard enough to bend about a quarter of an inch of the tip of the needle. After she pulled it out, she kind of looked at it, then looked at me, and gave me this sheepish little "oopsie!" kind of smile. 

Oopsie, my ass. 

She did have one small shard of brilliance, though. After she shredded my insides pulled out the needle, she circled the blood spot with a pen and asked me for my phone so she could take a picture of the "successful" spot. Successful here is a VERY relative term. But at least she'll have a picture to go off of if she ever touches my port again. Which I'm very doubtful of, since I think I'd have better success if I gave my two-year-old a syringe and said, "go at it!"


You can see two teeny tiny pokes very close to each other at the top, which are from 10 days ago. Then the three other pokes are from her blindly playing pin the tail on the port yesterday. You can see how the one on the bottom is bigger than the others - that's because of the bent needle. And the redness to the right is what happens when you give me a band aid. Is anyone else "allergic" to the adhesive?

And as a side note - I'm so glad I'm a good healer! Look at that pretty scar! :-)

In any event, I feel so much better after having 4 cc taken out. I haven't had any trouble eating or drinking, and it almost felt "weird" to me to not get stuck. It's amazing how, even though it's so uncomfortable and unpleasant, you can get used to a feeling like that so easily. 

For now, I'm taking a month off of fills and weigh-ins. And I'm feeling very good about that.  


jennxaz said...

youch! hope you feel better soon..thats insane on all that poking!

Connie O said...

Oh, Anna, that's awful. I'm sorry it is always such a hassle for you and Kim! So far no one has had any trouble hitting my port, but I haven't been in as many times as you yet. The other day I put my hand on my stomach and realized I was rubbing it, thinking, "What the heck is this?" I can finally feel it! Then I got paranoid that rubbing it might flip or turn it.

I hope you have a great rest month and are able to concentrate on developing the good habits you will need with or without much band restriction.

Mon said...

I was SQUIRMING while reading this! And I get my first fill tomorrow :) I'm not sure I could be as patient as you if it goes anything like that.

SO glad you're giving your body some much-needed healing time. This month has been kinda rough for you so far. I think this is definitely the right choice.

Luka Beth said...

I'ma little apprehensive after reading this, because my surgeon was having trouble finding my port at my two week post op. The only good thing is that my surgeon is the only one that does fills so i dont have to worry about who i will get every time.

Cheri said...

I can't tell you how much I hate this for you. I'm very glad you are documenting what is going on. I hope you continue to think "what would I insist on for my son" when you make decisions for yourself. I'll make myself stop worrying then, that you will make the right choice about what you do/don't let them do. Because the mom in me wants to rush in and "protect you", I hope that isn't too weird.

Are there positive things you want to focus on this month, that we can support you in, that have nothing to do with band restriction and scales? Let us know if so - things that are healthy and fun maybe, and you can get excited about?

I'm allergic to adhesive too. :-) They were nice when they did my surgery and avoided it totally.

Mon said...

Okay, I have NEVER noticed any kind of allergy to adhesive, but lo and behold, I got my first fill yesterday (my surgeon does them, and he numbed me first--WHEW), which he then covered with a band-aid. Well I kinda forgot about it, then took it off this morning when I woke up, and almost immediately started having a reaction. It was swollen, itchy and red. I'll probably post pics tomorrow.

I hope you're still feeling good about your month off from weigh-ins, etc!!!