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Port and Potassium problems

jsabol's picture
jsabol
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

I posting in hopes of getting some input from others who may have experienced port problems (potassium is a separate problem).
This week I developed pain in my chest, armpit and arm that at first felt like muscle strain. Two days later, my neck vein on the side of the port and the vein above my collarbone were suddenly (in a matter of hours) very swollen and very tender. So, off to the ER to check for possible clot. No clot was found, but I hear different things from my ER doc, onc, PCP and surgeon. Onc said I was fine, go home on Advil, but did not see the extent of the swelling. Surgeon says a clot can form along the catheter from the port and not be visible on ultrasound, but to treat this as a phlebitis with antibiotics just in case. ER doc felt that anticoagulants were indiciated, but radiologist says no. PCP says do whatever surgeon recommends. Thank god I'm a nurse; I spent the whole day talking to on call docs to finally get on antibiotics, no anticoagualnts, but Advil, which also thins the blood a bit. What a weekend; still have a neck like a linebackers, but the pain is decreasing!
In the meantime, my potassium levels keep falling, despite 50 mEq's of potassium each day. My first signal that I'm low is I completely lose my sense of taste. I've needed as much as 90 mEqs on some days after checking bloodwork. I'm a little worried that my onc is so low key about this stuff and I'm just worn out from trying to understand and manage it. Any similar experiences out there? Thanks, Judy

grandma047's picture
grandma047
Posts: 381
Joined: Feb 2004

Hey Judy, This is the other Judy. I had trouble like that with my port. Called the home health nurse and she said to go to ER. I went and they said that mine was caused by the chemo. My doctor said his father had the same thing when he had a port. They put me on a muscle relaxer and loritabs. It lasted about a week and finally went away. It was the same pain you described exactly. I also was taking coumadin because of clots forming when you have a port. I stopped this yesterday because of the upcoming surgery. But, that's what my story is on that. As far, as the potassium problem, I really can't help. Only time I had problem with it was after surgery last time. They were giving me potassium in IV and orally too. Whew, I hate taking those gigantic pills. Hope you get to feeling better. Keep in touch.
Love, Judy H.

KrisS
Posts: 232
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi Judy- sorry to hear about the problems you are having. My nurse used to measure the diameter of my upper arm to see if there was any change that might indicate presence of a clot or inflammation, but I thankfully have not had such problems.

The story of your potassium deficit is weird. I don't think that you mentioned anything about being on a diuretic or having bad diarrhea which my ostomy nurse said could really wipe out potassium.

How about lobbying for an internal medicine or endocrinology consult to make certain the low potassium isn't a result of some problem with losing excessive potassium through your kidney or because of some adrenal dysfunction?

I hope things get straightened out for you soon.

Best wishes,
Kris

cheer3's picture
cheer3
Posts: 106
Joined: May 2003

Hi Judy, Sorry you are having these problems. I had what you describe with my port. My ONC sent me to PIC Lab.The DR gave me a local in upper arm, and injected dye for xray.It was ok.I was given flexaril and something for pain. I felt better after about one week.
I hope you are feeling better by this time. Keep us posted.
Jean

kerry's picture
kerry
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

Judy,

Sorry about your problems. I was fortunate to not have any problems with my port other than some slight discomfort occasionally in my neck and arm. I did have low potassium though and had to take a Rx of potassium pills (horse pills). Thankfully, my potassium level came back up.

As for the different opinions of docs, I would go with my surgeon's advice, as you apparently did. The onc's are usually internists (as mine is) and don't believe in too much invasive procedure, the surgeon knows pretty much what is going on inside especially if he is the one who put it in as mine did. I did not have a radiologist do my port as others have.

Hang in there. When is chemo over??

Kerry

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