Friday, October 30, 2009

My First Ever PICC Line

My first PICC line was somewhere around 1999 or 2000. I’m guessing around then because I don’t ever remember having them in high school which I graduated from in 1998. I started receiving PICC lines for the same reason most of you start getting PICC lines; my peripheral lines would start to blow anywhere between 1-3 days. With 2 week stays, that meant that there were times I went through MULTIPLE I.V.’s. As you can guess, that got old really fast. The other thing that was happening was because of my sensitive veins, they were having to pump the meds into me at an incredibly slow rate. Not that this was so much a problem medically, but mentally it was a little taxing being hooked up to my leash 24 hours a day. When I’m in the Hole, I NEED to be active. If I’m tethered to my I.V. pole that gets a little tough. So the decision was made for me to try a PICC line.

I can tell you exactly what I felt at that time: NERVOUS and slightly disappointed. Let me start with the disappointed feeling first (and I may be labeling the emotion wrongly). I’ve always tried to avoid the typical “CF road”. I think many of you understand that as I’ve talked to a lot of you on this exact subject. Whether it was PICC lines, oxygen at night or embolizations, I always felt like I was conceding to CF. Like I was giving in a little bit and letting CF win (I’ll do a full blog someday on why this is faulty thinking). Let me point out that I still feel the same about ports, but I’ve never felt that way about hospitalizations. Weird, I know.

Ok, back to the PICC line. When they wheeled me down to IR (Interventional Radiology) I think they could tell I was a little on edge. I generally don’t get nervous over anything like this (or ANYTHING for that matter) but this time was different for some reason. I was laying on the actual table for about 2 minutes when the nurse asked, “Is this your first PICC line?” “Yup” I answered. “Want some numbing medication for your arm and some medicine to make you relax?” “Yup”. About 1 minute later I fell into a sort of haze in which anything and everything was funny. It mattered not what they were doing to my arm, I was enjoying Planet Space Cadet way too much!

It was over before I knew it and I didn’t remember feeling a thing during the whole procedure. Sure I felt “tugging” or pressure here and there, but no pain to speak of. As the numbing medication wore off my arm was a little bit sore from the trauma, but a hot compress and some Tylenol nipped that in the bud pretty fast. Since that wonderful day in…well, in whenever it was, I’ve had over 30 PICC lines and am a proud owner of most PICC lines received at my hospital. I can no longer use my left arm due to a vain narrowing near my shoulder, but my right arm is still open, single and ready to mingle. I realize that at some point the PICC party will be over and I will be getting a port, but that time is not right now and I’m really not concerned about anything past today.

**If you click on some of today's links, they will actually take you to videos of both cleaning and discharging a PICC line**