Tag Archives: PICC line

Day -1

As I had long anticipated.Yesterday proved to be a busy, tiring and emotional day. Fortunately, as I had long anticipated, the majority of my emotions were overtaken by the sheer practicality of all the needles, waiting and consenting. It was a day of work, if your work is displaying super human strength and kindness whilst under duress.

Day – 1 is the day popularly know as the day one receives their Megatron chemotherapy. It could be Day – 2 if one was unwell and the transplant is postponed by a day, but my title is one of hope. I will be getting my transplant today, providing the nausea behaves itself. 

Whilst I was too busy yesterday to write another blog, I was able to make a note in my Notes of the key timings and events that made up Day – 1. It was no party.

06:30hrs: Awoke feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, if those things meant I awoke feel anxious, unable to sleep but eager to get things going… I then did the things we all do as part of the morning routine of getting ready to leave the house/flat.

08:36hrs: I had said my brave goodbyes, largely ignoring my dear Bruce and at this point, I was sitting in a taxi driving down my street. The driver took the bumpy roads.

09:00hrs: I arrived at the hospital, greeted by my mother who had arrived nearly an hour luggage. The first priority was to unload all our stupid luggage, dumb luggage. I really do have a great deal of luggage. I packed four books for light toilet reading.

09:12hrs: We walked down the stairs to Reception 2 on the Lower Ground Flood, and booked in for my PICC line appointment three minutes later. I also discovered a concealed toilet.

09:15hrs: Surprise, surprise, a Medically Trained Person called out my name and with that, I was led to a room I had visited once before. It was the first point in the day I felt Deja Vu, and Deja Vu it was. For legal reasons, I had to listen again, despite remembering, to what they were about to do to me, the risks involved with the procedure and then I signed a yellow form to say I understood it all. 

I then removed my shoes and jacket and lay on a hospital bed under blue surgical sheets whilst another Medically Trained Person pushed a tube through a hole in my left arm, whilst he looked at a screen and a lady looked at my ECG results. At some point, I was told off for contaminating a scanning device with my right hand. 


10:13hrs: The line was in and off we went to Ambulatory Care on the Second Floor, via Costa Coffee. On arrival, I introduced myself as ‘Emma Jones, arriving for the first day of transplant stuff’. I was told it was one hell of an introduction.

10:30hrs: Alternatively known as Observation Time, meaning I had my bloods, blood pressure and temperature taken, I got weighed and apparently I am 5ft 7″; I remember being taller.

Shortly after this, I was advised that I was going to be seen by the doctor shortly and I would hopefully have the Melphalan (Megatron for you and me), around 13:00hrs. I would have to wait until then because the drug would need to be prescribed by the Doctor and then ordered from the pharmacy.

At some point, I did see a pharmacist.

12:15hrs: The Doctor finally made an appearance, to be fair, he had made several appearances on the floor, but it was at this point he introduced himself and took me to room 2.6, for a quick chat and another yellow form. I would have mentioned this before the last one, but I was told that this procedure is not curative and there was a 2-3% chance that I would not leave the hospital after it. The rest of the risks involved infections and talk of intensive care. So, I signed the yellow form quoting something I or somebody else said last week and that was “if I did not sign it, the result would definitely be negative”. 

The Doctor, who was Medically Trained also told me that given the amount of treatment I had had, my heart and kidneys were in “great” condition. Mamma Jones said “good stock”, I thought, a pat on the back for obese people everywhere.

I then wandered back to Mamma Jones and the nurses, and I was told  not to come back until 15:45hrs, at which point, I would have the Melphalan at 16:00hrs. Great, I thought, food.
12:38hrs: Before food however, we collected our luggage and checked into the hotel. Also known as the Cotton Rooms. The Cotton Rooms looks just as it did before. We are in a twin room over looking the beautiful sight that is, the Macmillan Cancer Centre. Just like before. I also made sure I got a DVD player, which is also, just like before.
A lunch then filled the gap, along with very practical trips to Boots and Sainsbury’s for fizzy water whilst I can drink it and popcorn whilst I can eat it.
14:51hrs: We returned to the cancer centre with giddy excitment ahead of the chemotherapy. In addition to my mother, I was accompanied by eight ice lollies from Sainsbury’s. 
16:24hrs: I was hooked up to a drip and the Melphalan, started my first ice lolly, and with that, it all started. 
16:31hrs: Ice lolly 2
16:38hrs: Ice lolly 3
16:48hrs: Ice lolly 4
16:56hrs: Ice lolly 5, an ice lolly that was accompanied not by chemotherapy, but with a flush. After a bit of faffing, all was done and I was released until 09:15hrs today. 
17:25hrs: Bed and pyjamas. Bed and pyjamas in the hotel. Needless to say, I was very tired, but not tired enough to sleep, and so I watched High Society and half of Pretty Woman.
Aren’t transplants just a hoot?
As for this morning? I woke up with nausea, fatigue and swollen feet. I still had bacon mind. 
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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