Dr Judith Guedalia

Any Port In A Storm... Well Maybe Not 'Any'
The doctor gave me a list of blood tests I needed to take, but said: "We'll start the chemo next week and you'll get the tests all done in a week of two."  That was on a Thursday during the last two weeks of August when everyone world over (or so it felt), is on vacation.  If you are Israeli that meant you were in Greece or Italy as Turkey was (and continues to be) off the vacation list.  The Turks for their part are surprised that Israelis have responded to their president and compatriots' constant diatribe against Israel, Jews and Israelis, by canceling their vacations to places that sing, "Kill the Jews/Israelis" as a refrain for all songs!
Anyway, I was HOME, my Shaare Zedek Medical Center, my home-away-from-home for 26 years.  In less than a week I had all the tests done.  The one thing that took a bit of negotiation was the port.
Being, as I am, a graduate of four C-Sections - thyroidectomy, corrective plastic surgery, eye surgery and now hysterectomy and general roto-router - I knew in what terrible shape my veins were, so much so, that during the summer a doctor had to be called in to draw blood from my foot, as phlebotomists are not permitted to draw blood from a patient anywhere besides his or her arms, and my hand and arm veins had shut down. 
I knew that a port (or portacath) was the answer.  I had heard about a Pediatric Port as a smaller one, more flush than the grownup one.  So I located a Pediatric Surgeon who implants ports and asked if he would do it.  He said he needed the permission of the surgeon who did adults.  I told him that he was in Greece on holiday. So we set the time and place and he did it.  A port, to the uninitiated, is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. Mine was installed under general anesthesia.  As it turned out this was a good idea as I bled a lot during the surgery and needed intervention.  A catheter connects the port to a vein, in my case the Jugular Vein. Under the skin, the port has a septum through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn, usually with less discomfort to the patient than a more typical needle stick.  I have a small bulge under my skin that looks like a small smooth topped bottle cap.
The area is very sensitive and I am frequently in serious discomfort.  I use a local anesthetic when it is bad and take a pain killer.  I had the port put on my left side, even though I am a lefty, as I didn't want the seat belt, on the passenger's side, to bother me all the time, I also knew I wasn't going to be driving so much.

           What is the point of all of this information?  No matter what your situation, no matter what your illness, know your body, its strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge to allow your body to be successful; much like I advise those who come to me in my parallel life as a psychologist (not patient).  Don't wait for your parent, spouse, child (his/her teachers) to fail and then go in to fix the  problem - understand their strengths and weaknesses.  We all want to succeed, so do what you can to engineer the environment so that it is welcoming and allows you (and them) to achieve this success.

Hatzlacha and Briot

             Dr. Judith Guedalia is Director, Neuropsychology Unit; Chief Psychologist; Shaare Zedek Medical Center; Licensed  Supervisor and Specialist in Medical, Rehabilitation, and Developmental Psychology; EMDR Certified Practitioner: Supervisor; Co-Chair Nefesh Israel. Dr. Guedalia can be reached through her website: www.drjudithguedalia.com