There are 3 ways you can take the infusion: peripherally, through a picc line or through a port catheter. In my personal opinion, getting a port catheter works the best for obvious reasons. I opted for peripheral infusion until the first treatment of 3rd cycle only realizing that all my veins had become stiff by then. Peripheral infusion basically means you get an IV injected and the drugs are induced through it. Once the infusion is over, the IV comes off and its easy peasy. Although, it has its own disadvantages. In my case, the biggest issue was, due to my age being less, my veins were very thin for them to be able to handle the drugs. I experienced a slight flare reaction during my very first treatment of the first cycle.
A flare reaction occurs due to an allergic reaction to any drug. The surrounding skin could become red, itchy and warm. Since the nurse noticed it, she immediately changed sites. I did not decide to get a port until my 3rd cycle’s first treatment when the nurse had a really hard time finding my nerves. The biggest disadvantage of being infused through an IV in my opinion is that your nerves become stiff and you experience immense pain post infusion which in my case would last for at least 3-4 days, not to forget the nerve search through needles already pricked in is very annoying and not as painful since you get used it it eventually but it does give you bruises. Post 5th treatment, I had a really bad flare reaction. If I am not wrong the correct term for it is extravasation, where the drug pretty much leaks out of your vein and causes irritation. Unfortunately, it occurred 2 days after infusion and my entire vein lit up! It looked angry for sure. It was bright red and I had a lot of warmth and pain surrounding it and the only thing I did for it was applied ice as the major goal was to get the heat down. I did inform my doctor and he advised the same.
The best thing that you can do for stiff nerves is just to leave them alone. The flare reaction eventually reduced and now my skin in that area is healing. I wish I had opted for the port from the very beginning as it is the easiest way to get the infusion. It sure sounds a little scary but it’s rather better to have a tiny scar on your skin than have stiff nerves and pain post chemo. I never explored the picc line hence, I wouldn’t comment on it but it’s always good to know your options and make the correct choice since no matter what you choose, keeping the area clean and hygienic is always going to be your number 1 goal and you obviously will get used to whatever you choose but yes, I would highly recommend getting a port catheter.