You Get Under My Skin, I Don’t Find It Irritating
Tomorrow is a big day- I’m losing a beloved part of me- my port. Yes, it’s weird to love a port, but I do, I think it’s badass. I love showing it to people with the introduction “this is the most punk rock thing about me.” Kind of a joke really, because though I do love punk rock, I don’t look particularly punk rock. But this port? This strange little thing under my skin? So punk rock! I love the way it looks and the way it feels. I even asked if I could keep it after they take it out (and no, I am by far, not the first person to ever ask that.) The nurse told me that no, it’s considered a bio-hazard. Bio-hazard? My husband’s girlfriend’s FACE is a bio-hazard! This, this is awesome. It’s me, it’s mine. And I’m going to miss it.
For anyone who doesn’t know (and I take for granted that most people don’t) here is Wikipedia’s short explanation of what a port is:
In medicine, a port (or portacath) is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. Under the skin, the port has a septum through which drugs can be injected and blood samples can be drawn many times, usually with less discomfort for the patient than a more typical “needle stick”.
The port is usually inserted in the upper chest, just below the clavicle or collar bone, leaving the patient’s hands free.
And here are a couple of drawings to further illustrate ports:
I show people my port right after I tell them I had cancer. Almost everyone reacts the same way- with a sort of strange awe and fascination. Hands will often start to reach out immediately to touch it, then hesitate, although I can think of at least one that didn’t hesitate or even ask before touching it. I don’t mind. It is fascinating. The people who don’t reach to touch it will usually lean forward and stare, at which time I always say “You can touch it.” It feels sort of like a quarter underneath my skin. I told at least one person that it was a hip new piercing that hadn’t caught on everywhere else. My friend Tristan is terrified of it and wouldn’t even watch his wife touch it (because Tristan’s a big baby!) One, and only one person very sweetly kissed it and said “This is hot!” I hate to admit it, but it made my heart pitter patter just a bit. I felt like it was a much larger statement at the time. Like, “This thing represents all the crap you have dealt with, and THAT is hot. You are a survivor, a badass, a rockstar, and THAT is hot.”
Turns out, he was just weird. Still, it was a nice moment, while it lasted. I’m sad for anyone who has had a port or an unsightly scar and never had it kissed and complimented as if it were beautiful. Because these things are beautiful- these medical devices, these scars, these parts of us that map out how far we have come and how we have gotten there. Like a beauty mark, only so, so much better.