Melody Berthoud
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Bye Bye Bubble and Mr Wiggly

Melody Berthoud
Posted by
27 May 2016

We are going to have Andrew's portacath removed.

We are going to have General Anaesthetic number 26 today to remove Andrew’s life saving portacath or ‘bubble’.

This was inserted on the 9th October 2012 and unusually Andrew still has the original portacath inside him. They made an incision in his side and his neck to implant it. This afternoon they will go in through the same scar on his neck to remove it.

This portacath has always been very mobile (moves around when nurses want to hold onto it) and is now much deeper inside him than at first as he has grown from a 3 yr old to a 7 yr old around it.

When they implanted the portacath they cut the nerve endings directly under the skin to minimise pain on accessing. Andrew also has numbing cream or cold spray to help with the pain of a needle being pushed through his skin. 

The nurses accessed his port weekly for bloods, every time he was admitted to hospital with a temperature to administer antibiotics, for IV chemo and more recently just to flush it whilst we waited for it to be removed. The area of skin above the port is now scarred from the hundreds and hundreds of needles having been pushed through it.

Andrew used to have to be held still on my lap to be accessed whilst screaming, arms flailing. I would hold his arm up and over his head, with him telling me not to hold his hand and me saying "I'm not" whilst I was actually holding my fingers in a thumb and forefinger pincer around his wrist ready to grab if he moved.

On one afternoon early on in his treatment he headbutted me and bruised (probably broke) my nose as he flung his head backwards during an accessing. My eyes streamed and I cried quietly, due to the pain, whilst the nurse accessed him; she could see me but he was facing away.  I pulled myself together enough that when it was over he couldn't see me with tears rolling down my cheeks.

Over time he became used to being accessed and would sit nicely on my lap enjoying the cuddle and eventually he didn’t need me at all.  He did however need to be in control of the needle all the way through treatment and would count down from 5 to 1 to prepare himself.

When the port wouldn’t give out blood we had various tricks to try:

Arm up over head
Stand up
Flap arms like a chicken
Big fake cough

However sometimes we just had to take out the 'Mr Wonky' and reaccess with a new Mr Wiggly, a much better option than digging the needle around inside him trying to get it into the right place in the port.  Doing that would make him scream and cry.

Only once did we have a blood clot in the port and have to have some medicine to help unblock it.

If you look carefully you can see the line going up and over his collarbone.

So bye bye Bubble – thank you for being a part of Andrew for 3 years and 8 months and for being a vital piece of life saving tech.