Tag Archives: Cannula

An Image Conscious

Some people may be surprised to hear, that even though I have had several episodes of diarrhoea in the last 48 hours and I have now stopped taking any fluids voluntarily, and thus I am very woozy, I am still conscious about my body image.

I want to look nice.

Obviously, there is no point on putting make up on in here, it would just come off on my pillow. My hair is going go fall out, so, why bother with gel now? There is also little point in me getting changed out of my pyjamas, as there is no discernible difference between day and night for me, apart from, during one of these things, I get visitors.

This morning, aware that I am at my least comfortable and confident, imagine my mortification, when I was discovered by not one, but two nurses (you need two for opiates), lying on my bed in old lady pyjamas, with a bra gathered around my PICC line, which unknown to me, was making my pyjama top pull up, and reveal my saggy left breast with a mind of its own. I was wearing a purple t-shirt and lilac patterned bottoms. My PICC Line is in my left arm. I did not have a shower yesterday. FYI.

That is how I am rolling.

Thankfully, one of the Angels tidied me up before the Doctors came in.

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My Reboot

For anybody who thought that a stem cell transplant was an operation in the traditional sense, my experience yesterday, would disappoint. There was no blue gown, no anaesthetic, hell, there were no doctors. After all the preparation, mental and physical, the ninety minutes it took for my stem cells to re-enter my body, was anticlimactic. It was a little exciting I suppose, but although I knew how I would get them back, I did not expect it to be so easy. Clearly, I know it is going to get worse now. The hard part comes after the Melphalan and after the transplant. When I left Ambulatory Care yesterday, it became perfectly clear to me, that all I have to do over the next few days, is to wait for my side effects. Wait for the hard part.

Although I found the process anticlimactic, I suppose that feeling comes from me not seeing an instance response or result, some tangible benefit, the process was still something to watch. Mamma Jones and Big Sister stood at the foot of my bed watching the whole thing, whilst saying, ‘I cannot believe this is it?’.

I arrived at the hospital yesterday shortly after 13:30hrs, as I had to wait a full 24 hours between the transplant and the chemotherapy. I was quite sleepy upon my arrival to the second floor, which went very well with the intravenous antihistamine they gave me to prevent an allergic reaction from the ‘freezing’. I am pretty sure that I looked stoned throughout the process and in fact, that particular look remained into I fell asleep shortly after 21:00hrs last night.

You get a private room when you your stem cells are infused, not because it is a private procedure, but really, because it takes up so much room. Tables, machines, a pot, more tables and drips. You really cannot have that in a communal area. Anyway, yesterday, some might have said I needed privacy, for it was hot and my dress was riding up to reveal my hot, big, white arse.

My stem cells came back to me in three bags. The bags were frozen to begin with, removed from some sort of contraption that looked like a prop from Jurassic Park’s lab, a smoking canister, then taken out of some popping bubble wrap and then placed in a medical version of a bain-Marie to thaw, before they were implanted in me via the cannula in my right hand. That happened three times. The cells were accompanied by a little bit of saline for luck. All in, I think we were done in just over two hours, from me walking through the door, to getting back out on the street, feeling woozy.

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I would describe my transplant as ‘nice’, like a cup of brew with a scone. Pleasant. I am thankful that the nurses treating me, knew me already, and I am thankful that they seemed genuinely pleased that I had finally managed to get to this point, and I grateful that one of them said she was honoured to be the person to do it and I was even more touched that she finished it be wishing me a Happy New Birthday.

Control. Alt. Delete. Let the reboot begin.

I said this yesterday, there is no going back now. I have to sit tight and wait for illness, and as the Macmillan Lady just said, that lack of control, must be something that I will particularly struggle with. She is correct. I really do not cope well with waiting.

Troubleshoot.

EJB x

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The PICC Line

The Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter sounds marvellous and it sounds scary. When I was told that I was going to have to have a semi permanent line whacked in my body, hanging out with my heart, I could categorically say that I did not want one. The thought of having something permanently poking out of me, did not make me want to do cartwheels. My line, my periphery inserted central catheter, which I just want to keep saying because it would muster up something stupendous were it not punctuated by the word catheter, is in my left arm.

If the thought of the PICC is scary, the first impressions, as I made my way into a bunker on the Lower Ground Floor, would have supported those thoughts, were it not for the staff undertaking the procedure. That is a compliment. I am going to call it a Procedure, because I thought it was supposed to be a straightforward needle, well, a slightly more complicated straightforward needle than I am used, but when I was greeted with two people in scrubs and cheap chef hats, I would have thought shit, but I am being a brave little soldier today.

It turns out, the precautions, the lengthy consent process, the scrubs, the blue sheets draped across my body, the face masks, were sensible window dressing, which seemed to bare no relation to the effect the Procedure had on me. Let’s face it, I really care about one thing when it comes to these things and that is pain. The thought of 54cm long tube entering my arm and ending up dossing in my innards, sounds like it could be unpleasant. It wasn’t. The sensation of blood coming out was the opposite; warm. It is rare that ladies get to experience that amount of blood gushing from something that is not an orifice. Sure, it’s early days, I have shown that I understand it is early days by putting pen to paper and acknowledging that things could go wrong.. Yawn.

Right now though, it is fine. There is a bit of blood in my dressing, I can feel that I am carrying around a bit of plastic, but it is not really that much more than your standard cannula. And everybody knows what the standard cannula feels like right?

I probably should explain, in case you unsure why I need a catheter in my arm, this little bad boy is going to be used to give me my intravenous drugs and take my blood whilst I am in Ambulatory Care and the hospital. Well, unless I fall into a minority of cases and it has to come out. Everybody loves the mechanics of this, so I will tell you that whilst it is used for the purposes mentioned above, it will not be used to give me my stem cells back tomorrow. Stem cells do not like the pump.

Back to this morning, all in, it took an hour. For some of that, I was lying on a bed flashing my knickerbockers because I chose to wear a dress today, and needed sticky things attached to my body leaving a fabric W shape decorating my crotch. Unusually, i requested a blanket to protect my modesty. The procedure was painless because I got local anaesthetic. I think I have a soft spot for local anaesthetic. When I was on the bed, I got to lay my arm out, left arm that is, whilst the Medically Trained People did their thing with the tubes, an ultrasound and an ECG. I also wiggled my toes.

The whole thing, looked a little bit like this:

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Day 1, Cycle 6

I was in such a good mood this morning.

Today, as it turned out, I had cancer. I spent seven hours and fifteen minutes at the hospital waiting for today’s treatment of Doxorubicin and Velcade and transport. It is Day 1 of my last cycle on PADIMAC. The rest of my cycle better not be like this. Please. I need a life that is not just this.

On Day 1, before I get my main drugs, I have to have a blood test, my vitals, a pregnancy test (to confirm, despite several imaginary attempts, I am not pregnant) and receive fluids and anti-sickness medication. All in, it should be done in 90 minutes. Today, everything and anything after midday was a shambles and the 90 minutes was but a dream set in a meadow in the Spring, with me wearing white and doing carthwheels.

I had counselling this morning at 11:00hrs and landed on the second floor at 11:55hrs. Fine. I was jolly, the counselling was productive and my outfit only contained some black today. Being the selfish person I am, I had already informed the hospital that I had been double booked and asked that I be checked in at 11:00hrs still because I have now experienced ten Mondays before this one, and know that they run slightly behind schedule and offered to have my bloods tested elsewhere to speed up the process. It did not speed up the process.

I understand that there are staff shortages and the nurses cannot come in if they are sick, but this is the excuse I hear every Monday and to be honest, Tuesday. I am 28 years old and want to live as much of my life as I can, but alas, today was wasted sitting on a chair with only my tired brain for company.

My day actually started at 09:00hrs, at which time I was ready to leave the flat as instructed. Once I realised that it was going to be at least a nine hour day, I spent 90 minutes crying (on and off) because I had to cancel my plans this evening, because it dawned on me that I could no longer have the time to fulfil my Christmas Baking Gift Challenge and because all of it was completely out of my control. My day was about My Myeloma and only that, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I suppose, I cannot complain too much, for my lunch was provided, and I am a very lucky to have had the corned beef sandwich on white. It was a culinary delight. Okay, I am reaching here, but I do not want to be a completely negative person. My heart is warm and I am kind. I am not usually somebody who is rude to her nurse.

As well as the above, today I learnt, in the context of cancer and the cannula what ’tissued’ means. It is not pleasant. My cannula was fitted two hours before I was attached to anything, the first being the anti-sickness drug. There were no issues with the application, it flushed well and it was almost pleasant. I gushed. Somebody then, during the two hours wait, moved, a lot it would seem because somebody managed to bend the cannula so that it was no longer in a vein. Unfortunately, this was only discover after they had tried to put the drugs in my arm, which then looked like the photographs below but worse. For a period, my arm looked like it had half a golf ball in it. It’s going to bruise and the vein is still like one of Madonna’s..

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Oh, and I managed to fracture another rib last night in my sleep. In my sleep. Score.

So that was my day. It sucked. I am exhausted and cannot write nor speak with any enthusiasm.

Tomorrow will be better.

EJB x

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The Stamp

If you squint your eyes a little, this nice cannula bruise from Tuesday could pass as a dirty nightclub stamp, which I have failed to wash off properly in a desperate attempt to make it into work on time via the corner shop to pick up crisps and a Lucozade. Thus, I could actually pass in the street as a normal 28 year old, who has been out galavanting on a school night. That would be nice wouldn’t it? Perhaps I could colour it in to make it look more realistic. Maybe a skull would do it.

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Alas, nothing could be further from the truth. I have been in bed since Thursday.

This is one bruise of four from my week’s treatment, which joins the two from three weeks ago. Ah, cannulas.

Whilst I am on the subject of bruises, I was told off on Wednesday for speaking at my NORMAL SPEAKING VOLUME about cannula bruising by a nurse in the clinic. Apparently, it did not put the chemo novice at ease.

She’ll learn, was my response.

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Temporary Bruising

I know I have bigger fish to fry, but it doesn’t have please me that I have (all being well) 17 days without having to receive another one of these unsightly bad boys. Stupid bruises. Stupid cannula.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I could see that it was working. Oh to rewind three weeks.

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