My Totally Implantable Venous Access Device (Port for Short)

I have a port installed under my skin. It's where they connect me to Gilbert.

You can clearly see it (were I ever to take my top off in your presence—which is never going to happen; we'll both be happier that way). You can also see the catheter that runs just under my skin up to my neck, where it vanishes into a jugular vein.


It made me wonder what the prototypes looked like.


Runaway Heart Rate

My resting heart rate at the moment is anywhere between 100-120 beats per minute (bpm). The average for adults is 60-100 bpm.

I don't know what my heart rate was before I started my treatment. Somewhere between 26 and 70, I'm going to guess, factoring in my running fitness. Why 26 bpm? That's the lowest heart rate ever recorded by a human being. Actually, the lowest is 0, but let's be honest, you have to be dead serious to achieve that.

Compared with a humming bird, 120 bpm is glacial. Its heart beats faster than 1,200 bpm. That's not even the record. The Etruscan pygmy shrew goes at over 1,500 bpm. That's before its morning espresso.

Why is my heart rate so high?

A) I am slowly turning into an Etruscan pygmy shrew
B) It's a reaction to the cocktails Gilbert is giving me
C) My body is working hard to fend of a disease
D) Two of the above

I'll be honest with you. When I was first told I had a 9cm malignant growth in my chest, I wondered whether I'd have any heart rate at all by the time the World Cup final came around. So 120 bpm on the eve of the final is just fine, thanks. Especially now I've had it checked out and had independent feedback from a heart specialist.

Losing Things: My Teeth?

Did you know chemotherapy ruins your oral ecology? It destroys your body's natural ability to fight malevolent bacteria, including those in your mouth.

To keep my mouth free from infection, I am on a strict hygiene regimen. Four times a day I have to:

  1. Brush my teeth
  2. Gargle industrial-strength mouthwash (It gives me breath with which I could duel a dragon.)
  3. Apply an antibiotic to my tongue (it is the colour of vomit and tastes like cherries—and vomit.)

The mouthwash is especially brutal. Civilians aren't allowed to use it for longer than a month. I've been swilling the stuff for nearly two, with two more to come. In addition to killing bacteria, it also seems to be killing my teeth. Or at least discolouring them badly.

My dentist is in for a surprise at my next checkup.

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