When it comes to chemo there are only a VERY few but VITALLY important things that make this entire experience livable...1) Anti-nausea meds...2) Support team of loving family & friends...3) The innumerable amount of PRAYERS by everyone (I feel every one of them)...4) Feeling the closeness of the Saviour...5) A FUNCTIONING PICC LINE!!!
For those of you who are unaware of this medical marvel, let me take a minute and give you the non-medically trained/"Readers' Digest" explanation...
What is a PICC & why? A PICC line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) is a long hose looking thing that a specialized team of nurses in the PICC lab insert into a major vein in your upper arm. The purpose (my favorite) is to save you from all those gazillion pricks (NEEDLES!!!) for meds or blood work & to protect your other veins from the IV meds you are getting. They use an ultrasound to locate a large enough vein that pumps directly into the heart and then we are off to the races. They give you a bit of freezing at the site and then start to insert the guide into the vein a bit then ultrasound recheck the vein to see if it is holding up to the stretcher they have in your vein. If it all looks good they then continue thru the vein until they reach the spot by the heart that is needed so that the (in my case) chemo gets pumped in and out of the heart directly. The length of the line is determined by your height and usually goes into the right arm as this is the most direct route to the "perfect" location...mine is 45cm long. They have to use my left arm because of the cancer on my right which makes the path longer and more difficult because they need to go past the heart and then back to that position. Once they have checked the ultrasound again they send you for a chest X-ray to be 100% sure it is in position. And that my friends is a PICC.
I can not stress enough my undying affection for my Petunia (my PICC). She has saved me from far too many pricks from blood work, IV medicine to contrast dyes for MRI & CT's. She is a champ and has served me honourably right up until...she didn't!! Last Tuesday (the one between chemo) Hero nurse was doing the routine "flush" to make sure we had back flow of blood just in case....it's a saline flush that just checks for blockages or in this case complete failure. We tried everything from waving the arm around to a hot shower..but soon come to the realization that Petunia had in fact...dropped the ball and gone to PICC heaven...a nice peaceful end for her...KRAPTASTIC FOR ME!!! Seriously the only saving grace was that it was my off chemo week so we had the flexibility to get a new one. Then I remembered that we have this WRETCHED antibiotic that still needs to run every 8 hrs (KRAP! KRAP! KRAP!!!) I am sure you are beginning to get the picture....I NOW NEED AN IV IN MY ARM!!!! Sooooo far past my "happy place" there is no going back. Hero nurse assured me that she was really good at IVs and I do trust her completely but I still had to deal with the anxiety and stress and panic that this IV was gonna cause me. I have in the past shared my needle phobia in great detail so you can see my predicament. Way beyond that fact....having an IV in causes such severe claustrophobia and it is a battle every single second to keep from yanking it out. I have to have it covered but some moments that doesn't even help....it's a constant battle of wills. Then add the fact I only have a couple veins left on my left arm that are good so I am very protective of them...and the hunt for any said vein ends up being a "fishing expedition"...or at least they try!! UMMM...NOT! They get one clear shot and if they don't get in on the first poke....just back that sucker out and find a "vein whisperer" cause this old broad is a one shot pony...you miss and you lose, just walk away. Now I could go on for hours but I will spare you my needle ranting except to say....HERO NURSE EARNED HER TITLE TODAY!!! She got that sucker in on the top of my arm (new vein) without a hitch....to quote my big brother...
"slicker 'n snot on a door knob"
Soo..my Friday PICC team appt rolls around and they check again for back flow and realize that Petunia has in fact left the building. So they decide that my trashed arm could use a rest so pull out Petunia and promise they will have me booked in before the following Friday (chemo day) and have my new PICC in place. Good thing we left that blasted IV in "just in case" cause now it is gonna have to stay for an entire week. So now begins the inner constant whisper....
"DON'T PULL IT OUT...DON'T PULL IT OUT...DON'T PULL IT OUT...ETC
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