Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eleanor, Gee, I Think You're Swell

I'd like you to meet a friend of mine.

This is Eleanor.

She's been living with me five days a week for the past month and a half.  When I first came home with the pump, I was trying to think of a way to make the experience a little bit less disturbing for my kids, and so I said, "Hey, this pump is going to be around for a while.  Let's give it a name!" thinking that they'd come up with Pumpy or Zappy or something, but instead my six year old daughter said, "How about Eleanor?" just to be silly, and it stuck.
I carry Eleanor and the bag of chemo meds in a little fanny pack and try not to get anything caught on a doorknob or faucet handle.  About eight feet of tubing runs between Eleanor and the chemo bag, which means I can hang the whole contraption outside the shower if I need to, or put it on the floor next to my bed, or just fold it all up and push it into the carrying bag.  One end of the tubing is connected to my port via a needle like this:
It looks sort of horrible, but honestly, it hurts less than most injections, and once it's in, I don't feel it at all - remember that the portacath is like a little drum, and the needle goes into the drum through a silicone membrane, so the needle is sitting inside that, not just sticking into me.  There's a foam pad between the plastic needle assembly and my skin, and then there's a gauze bandage over the whole shebang to ensure that it stays in place all week.  The blue plastic valve in the upper left of this picture is the spot where nurses can connect the long tube that leads to the pump, or can connect a syringe to draw blood, flush the port with saline, give me a smaller one-time dose of meds, etc.  So after I get stuck with this needle on Monday mornings, that's it for the rest of the week, even for blood tests on Friday.

I'm happy to say that Eleanor will be going on vacation tomorrow when my five and a half weeks of continuous infusion are finished.  Once she leaves, I won't see her again until some time in June, when Round Two of chemo starts.  For those infusions I'll have her for only two days every other week.  Eleanor is one of those friends who can be a bit difficult to tolerate at times, but in the end I do appreciate what she's done for me.

In the mean time, I hope I can get the Turtles song "Elenore" out of my head.  (Go ahead, click on that link, because you shouldn't miss the spectacle of Sixties hair and fashion therein - and then the song will be stuck in your head, too.)

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