I had an appointment at Brown yesterday for a “port flush”. For this procedure, the chemo nurse accessed my port and then flushed it with saline and heparin (blood thinner) to help prevent blood clots from forming in the port or the tubing. This has to be done every 6-8 weeks once treatment is complete and until the port is removed. As usual, my port did not want to cooperate. The nurse could not get any blood return (They should be able to draw blood out of the port which proves that they have correct placement when they accessed the port). I had a nurse that was new and had no experience with my port. She went to talk to Louise (charge nurse) because normal protocol when they cannot get blood return is to order TPA because this could indicate a clot. Heparin helps to prevent clots from forming, but if there is a clot that has already formed it will not dissolve it. This is why they order tissue plasminogen activator (better known as TPA) to flush through the port to help breakdown or dissolve the clot. I have had TPS flushed through my port multiple times over the past months and even had to have a dye test done to check on my port. After the dye test they realized that I had a kink in the tubing of the port and TPA cannot help with that.
Anyway…the new nurse went over to the nursing station to speak to Louise and I heard “Oh..that is Mrs. Folino. Her port never works right!” nice way to be remembered! haha Then Louise peaked over the desk and waved to me. She said that since my port will be coming out in 2 1/2 weeks, and since they have documentation that I have a problem with my port, and I have had TPA several times previously and it has never helped, she felt that there was no reason to put me through more procedures. I was free to go!! I will not need another flush since the port will be coming out very soon.
I was able to see one of my favorite chemo nurses while Nick and I were there. Ernie let Nick take a picture of me and him for my blog since he was not there for my final chemo and was not included in my celebration photo. Here is one of the best chemo nurses at Brown Cancer Center: