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: