I have lived with a small, plastic, triangular implant called a port for over a year now. Ports are a kind of central line that are surgically embedded under the skin and are accessed with a special needle (called a huber needle), which is a non-coring needle, meaning it doesn't take silicon out of the port when accessed. There is a small catheter called a lumen that is stitched into my vein and that is how a receive my infusions, medications, and get blood drawn while in the hospital.
The decision to get a port was not made lightly. There are many risks such as an increased chance of blood clots and deadly infections. I actually didn't make the decision to get a port, rather my parents and doctor made the decision and I found out at 3:45 in the morning when the general surgeons were rounding (like who rounds that early?! Jeez!). I signed the consent form and I was in surgery about 3 hours later. While the surgery happened quickly, the decision was pondered for months, if not years prior to the surgery.
If this was such a carefully made decision, then why do I always feel like I'm being interrogated when a doctor or nurse asks, "So why do you have a port?". In my case, years of infusions, pokes, and missed attempts have caused my veins to get severely scarred. I also receive infusions of medications that are very potent and painful to receive via a regular peripheral IV. In the next month and a half or so, I will be starting regular plasmapheresis treatments, which is also hard on the veins.
The majority of patients with ports have them for the reason I do: for infusions, for medications that cannot be put through a peripheral IV, because of poor venous access, and/or to save their veins from treatments that would be exceptionally hard on them.
A really common misconception is that ports are only for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. That is completely false. While some cancer patients may have ports, individuals with ports that need access for home infusions can get their treatments in the comfort of their home and they are spared the many IV attempts. For those of us with frequent IVs, lab draws, and other treatment, having a port is a game changer.
Yes, I have a port. Yes, I really need it. Yes, it makes my life 150% easier and no, you do not need to interrogate me and judge me based on whether or not you think I "need" it.