Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was a great blood giver. People would make comments like: "Oh, you've got good veins" or "Wow, it's really easy to get blood out of you." Chemotherapy, however, has damaged my veins. Now I get comments like: "You have tough skin," "I'm having a hard time finding any of your veins" and the worst, "Your blood just doesn't seem to want to come out." It's bad enough that when I get blood draws from my Power Port, the nurses usually need to me lie down and take many deep breaths just to get the blood to start coming.
Even though I have a Power Port in my right chest to administer my chemo drugs and for blood draws, every time I go in for chemo, I need a peripheral IV site too. This is because two of my drugs are not known to be compatible and are administered simultaneously. I hate getting IVs- they hurt. This time, I had four IV attempts in 4 days, partly because I had a trainee try one of them. I was not happy.
The other major issue, of course, in dealing with chemotherapy is my nausea. Since I was nauseated this last time constantly (just in varying degrees) from check-in to five days after I arrived back home, I needed constant meds. At one point in the hospital I told my nurse my nausea was getting worse again and asked for another dose of medication. A common request.
Well, she came back a while later with a syringe filled with the medication. I questioned her because every other time I had gotten the med, it was in pill form and it seemed to work well for me. She insisted this would be better because it would work faster. She put it in my IV site on my left forearm and it STUNG! She left and I rolled from side to side on my bed in pain, telling my mom that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. She made me call the nurse. I was trying to deal with the pain so I wouldn't have to have another IV put in, but she was right. This was too much and I was beginning to black out.
Ten minutes after I asked for the nurse to come back in due to a burning IV, someone came. Not my nurse, but a different one who flushed my IV and told me that sometimes that particular medication burns the veins. Great, thanks for that bit of information. Especially after I questioned the nurse in the first place.
The next day, I had an unusable IV site and the nurses decided I'd been poked enough, so they called in the big guns and had a PICC Line put in. Basically, I have a small hole in my arm about 4in. under my left armpit into a major vein. A small, wire-guided plastic tube is inserted into the hole. It is guided up under my armpit, halfway across my chest and down toward the top of my heart. It's guided by ultrasound, then they X-rayed me to make sure it was far enough above my heart that it wouldn't complicate things. When in place, the wire is pulled out and I'm left with 42cm. of tubing in my arm and chest. Then I have two "pigtails" that hang on my arm that medicine is administered through.
That is how my PICC Line came to be. I am told I'll have it for the next three to four weeks. But maybe less time for good behavior.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Posted by Meredith Curteman at 12:58 PM