Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Picc line and Chemotherapy #1B - First Cycle complete.

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you can't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King

You know that you are in the best possible place for care when you enter the chemotherapy suites for what will prove to be a long day and you are greeted with a hug from the nurse who tried to get your IV going on Friday with the words, "Michelle, I thought about you all weekend, tell me about bonus weekend." While I don't always know what's ahead of me, I feel comforted in knowing that I have such wonderful, caring people helping me walk up those stairs, every step of the way.

I had the added luxury for the day of having my own private room in the chemotherapy suites. Hazel, an experienced nurse would be in charge of my bedside procedure to have the PICC line installation. PICC line stands for "peripherally inserted central catheter". Essentially, this is thin hollow, flexible tube that is threaded through a vein in my arm up across my shoulder area to rest near the superior vena cava vein near my heart. It is a sterile procedure that can be done bedside with many pre-cautions. I was fully suited up, covered in draping as was the nurse. She calmly explained very single step to me as it was happening. I was given a local anesthethic and although this numbed the pain, I was in some discomfort and needed to employ some deep breathing and ceiling watching to get through the most uncomfortable part. 

The Cancer clinic does have the benefit of a special ultra-sound machine that makes the placement go much more smoothly, this machine was purchased around Christmas time however it is shared with other departments and not available on Monday. Another example of where our donation dollars are directed. Hazel has done many many of these procedures without the ultra-sound machine and her expertise was evident. I being quite tall needed 55 cm of tubing to reach my chest area. In trying to find the correct location there was prodding and guess work on Hazel's part. We had a few hiccups, where the tubing ended up curving upwards towards my ear rather than down towards my heart. She flushed the line out and I heard water running near my ear, a very freaky feeling. So out came the tube and we had to do it all over again. I said a prayer to the man upstairs for this to work and no other complications to arise. My prayers were answered and we had a successful install. 

I was then taken down to x-ray for a chest x-ray to ensure it was properly placed. This took no time at all. Soon I was back in my private room with a heated blanket and gingerale. We had to wait around 90 minutes for the Radiologist to write a report on the x-ray and give the go-ahead for my chemotherapy to proceed. In the meantime, I got to watch a video explaining everything you need to know about Picc lines. CCAC came to visit me as I will be having a home care nurse visit my house once a week to change the dressings on my Picc line. Being that this is a direct line that comes outside my body, we have to be very careful with infection etc. I also have some limitations in what I am able to do around the house, particularly repetitive motions with my left arm and reaching up high. Unfortunately the Picc line had to be put in my left arm, and being that I am left-handed, its own set of challenges. Since I had surgery on my right underarm, and there is a fresh incision they couldn't use that vein as it would pass through the scar tissue from the surgery. The line will remain in for the next 6 months, swimming could pose a challenge! I will have some sweet tan lines!!

My chemotherapy was a bit shorter than as an in-patient, around 3 hours total. Faith was my nurse for administering the chemotherapy, we talked and chatted the whole time and the 3 hours passed quite quickly. I came home and had already made dinner on Sunday so we could all sit down together and enjoy a meal as a family. I am feeling quite fatigued, little nauseousness, thankfully the medications do such a good job of preventing alot of the nausea, as long as you keep up the dose they recommend.

I started reading a great book and look forward to sitting on our deck today and enjoying our backyard. I would love some other book recommendations, I am typically an avid reader when I have the time. CCAC is coming to change the dressing today but other than that, it is a day to take care of me. Thank you for your continued love and support. We look forward to a reunion this coming weekend with many of Jason's life-long friends. Taking care of the care-giver is just as important as my own needs. Those families, his buddies and their wonderful spouses bring me great joy when I watch the reminiscing and laughter among friends.


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