Friday, February 8, 2008

How My PICC Line Came to Be

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.


Anonymous said...

My dear friend Meredith

I wish I could come and visit you and take away your pain. I hate to see you like this. I am so glad that you are in good spirits but I hate that you have to go through all of this. Just know that I am always thinking about you and I come to this site daily just to see how you are doing. I will call you in a few days to check up on you. I am going to try my hardest to come out there and visit you. I miss you and I will call you soon. Love you

Lisa said...

Meredith and Nick,

Great blog! We are praying for you!

Love, Lisa, Rayburn, Isaac and Abe

Anonymous said...

You are such a trooper! How strong you are to go thru all that garbage! Please do know that we love you and are praying for you. Keep a stiff upper lip!
Lee was so glad to know where we could get a huge ice cream like that one. It looks DElish!!
When do you get to take that vacation? It sounds like just what the doctor ordered!
I was remembering our times in the pool at the camp in Teresina. How fun that was! It was lots of fun to participate, but even just watching was hilarious! Those frizbees were a bit dangerous now and then! ;)
Take care and give Nick a hug from me.

Scott Creps said...

Can I picket the PICC line? :( One more thing to add to the "Have you ever...?" list - you are going to win that game every time.

I miss you and wish I could be there. I'm excited that you guys are going to get away for a few days - be sure to relax.

Love you Mer!
Love, Mel

Sarah McAllister said...

Meredith, I don't personally know you, but I go to school with Nick, and I am so encouraged by your hope and your spirit through the midst of all of this. It truly shows how much you trust God and know that He is in control of this situation. You are an amazing woman of faith. I am praying for you both.

Anonymous said...

We love you, Mer. It hurts us to see you hurting and we wish we could make it better! We're praying for you, and we're thrilled you get to take off for a bit! Oh, warm sunshine. . . I'm jealous! We have sunshine, but everywhere you look is SNOW. :) We're still trying to get up there to see you. I'll make you soup and homemade bread when we do! Enjoy your trip, and know we're thinking about you. love Rinda

Anonymous said...

Grandma C coming your way again!
Our dear Meredith (and Nick too)
It is so good to see how you two are holding up under all the pain/probings/stress and chemo. We are continuing to pray for God's peace to surround you, His love enfold you, and His love being your all sufficiency.
God is our shield and our very present help in times of trials.
May He bring healing SOON!!!!
Luv You,
Grandma and Grandpa C

Works of Art said...

your site is beautiful ...I have a product you might be interested in PICCZEES! A cover for your picc line
see them at
Could I link my site to yours?
Take CAre and Thank you!

Anonymous said...

had i picc line in for 4 weeks and am sure it caused me addtionl pain. roght arm insertion and had oain when lying on that side an when medication given. Also ha sever heart pain raiatingdown my left arm. tested when i went to ed buy okay they said. A week later had picc line out and all pain disappeared. This senario needs to be investigated further. noone mentioed this side affect with arm inserted picc line so researcg needs to be done on this m,atter because this is a serious potential proble that may cause injury or death. i am 68 yrs old