Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

 

In some ways it does not seem that long ago but in more ways than the other it has been an epic journey with my PICC line. In case you don’t know what a PICC line it is a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. That can be a lot of mumbo jumbo but it is a tube stuck into your arm/vein that reaches all the way down to just above your heart. On the outside is several valves and ports that allow for meds, blood, chemo and the like to be pumped directly into the system.

Lets go the the beginning. I was still in Tennessee and having had my first round of RICE I was in some pretty bad shape. I was getting IV fluids and meds. Blood was drawn every few hours. My veins were taking beating. They had collapsed on about four IV lines. They were hiding and moving at any sign of a needle. It was getting so bad that specialist were called in because the rescue ninjas (nurses) were kind enough to not torture me. That was the conception of the PICC.

All of a sudden one day, while Space was out and about, I was taken down to the first floor of the hospital and waiting in the hallway. From what I remember, I was moved onto a table and my right arm was extended out and strapped down. The dude there placed a device on my chest and covered me up. Then he blocked my view. I assumed he numbed me up but is still hurt like hell when he poke a hole in my arm and vein and proceeded to up the PICC line in. A dressing was put on it. He handed me a booklet that covered the care and emergency cases. He told me that the needles would no longer be necessary that blood could be drawn through it and all my IV meds would go as well. I knew I had a shit eating grin on my face. I could not get it wet for risk of infection.

So all was good in the world. I got this new PICC line and my veins were going to get the chance to heal up.

Back to the wet thing. This meant that my swimming days would be over. I am not a big swimming guy but it is great cross training and I love water parks and playing with the Psycho. Also,I had to wrap the line up to take a shower. It was a pain in the ass because sarran wrap worked okay but the adhesive in the bandages would stick to the cling wrap. Large baggies were okay but that could get expensive. It got to the point where maybe a shower was no longer worth it. That’s right I decided to stink it up and I was foul. Then it was during a stay at the hospital that some amazing rescue ninja wrapped me up with a specimen bag. I worked awesome and was cheap (free). So I was more inclined to clean up now that a suitable procedure was found.

There were a couple of other quirks associated with my dear friend the PICC. I had it installed at Vanderbilt but was now being treated at Jefferson. The PICC lines at Jeff were a cheaper model which required clamps. So every so often, a nurse would go looking in vain for the clamps. It was amusing at times. The other difference between the two models was that mine did not need to be flushed with saline daily. Another part was that the dressing had to be changed weekly. I don’t know what the bandage adhesive was formulated with but it was awesome and should be used on all bandages and band-aids. It stuck real well but did not hurt when it was peeled off. Well a little but nothing is perfect. The best thing is that it did not irritate my skin at all. Even band-aids would eventually itch if I left them on too long. In any case the dressing change was interesting because there several point on the external line that had to be secured. The entry point was always double layered with a bio patch and the valve clamped down with double latches. Then each lumen would be taped down to reduce the dangling.

There have been many of times where my old friend was in danger. Over and over again when ever I had a fever my PICC line was being blamed for it. Every time the doctors would say it is a source of infection. It became comical. It also hurt because of some ludicrous policy that forbid blood from being drawn from the PICC. This of course meant more sticks. At this point I only had one good vein so that is what has been tapped for the past 9 months. Back to this fear of the blue PICC line. This one time when I was in the hospital at 5AM an intern tried to convince me to replace it with a central line. I already knew that the central line and a PICC ended up in the same place but the intern did not seem to know that. That is why I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT TRUST INTERNS!!!!!! I told him to come and see me later after I woke up and had breakfast. He did not come back. The next time my dear old PICC was in danger was when an ER doc said he was going to have it removed. I made it clear that if he were to touch my PICC he would feel lucky to already be in an Emergency Room. This one time I was having a hard time getting blood return and everybody thought there was a problem with it. I argued that if they never intended to draw blood from the line why do we care. That was all fixed when I tripped on an unmarked speed bump in a dark garage and landed on my right arm. After that we never had a problem with blood return.

To think all the good stuff that went through there: Platelets, Blood, Anti-virals, Anti-fungals, fluids, chemo (RICE), lasix, morphine, fluids, potassium, meal in a bag with some acronym, did I mention fluids, magnesium and anesthesia. It all we through Mr. PICC and he took I like a champ.

For better and worse my old friend was there to make intravenous infusions so much more pain free. This was a blessing especially when I was getting infused for hours seven days a week. The only thing that would be better would be that I would not need infusions.

Well today is that day. I had an appointment with Doc Weis this morning and the results from my last CT were discussed and it was decided that I no longer needed Micafungen infusions three times a week. Therefore I did not have a foreseeable need for the PICC. Other future decisions may bring Mr. PICC back but the procedure is relatively easy. So at about 11:00AM this morning Rose said “When I tell you take a deep breath then hum.” She said when, so I sucked in and hummed where she proceeded to pull it out and here it is.

Rose and my PIICC Me and My PICC

Now I have this hole in my arm which is not that bad. What has been weird is feeling the sleeve of my shirt on that part of my arm for the first time in nine months.

Either way, it has been a good run. You lasted about as long as a good pair of running shoes and you know how much I get choked up about that.

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2 Responses

  1. […] Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend […]

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  2. […] talked and it was probably a fungal infection so I went back on the micafungen. I had my PICC line taken out two months prior so that meant I was going to get stuck. I really hoped that my […]

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