Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Problem with PICC Lines

Ok, so the title of this post might be a little misleading.  There are, in fact, numerous problems/nuisances that go hand-in-hand with having a tube sticking out of your arm.  For instance, you are unable to shower without suiting up your entire upper arm in layer upon fashionable-but-oh-so-stiff layer of Press-N-Seal saran wrap, followed by a ziplock baggie with the bottom cut out, which is then held in place with several rounds of waterproof medical tape (and, after all that, it still only seems to work about 1/2 the time!).  Another, more minor, example of a problem that arises when medical tubing is protruding from your body is the fact that, well, it hurts!  Along with the puncture site, there are the tube clips that dig into your arms when you try to cover the area with an ace bandage or some other kind of "sleeve" to keep all the tubes from dangling everywhere anytime you move.

Along those lines, I find the specific "problem" I'd like to address tonight (a/k/a the one that's currently bothering me):  the adhesive bandaging.  Up until today, I have actually been extremely impressed with how well my body has adapted to the PICC line and how little I've noticed it's there.  Again, it's kinda hard to miss a tube coming out of your arm, but the position of the line and the bandaging have all caused minimal discomfort or interference with my daily life.  Until today.  The home nurse came today to take blood samples and the change the dressing (even though that really wasn't necessary since they did it in the hospital on Friday).  While changing the dressing, she specifically asked me I'd like the tubes pointing upward or downward, and I said I'd like to keep them upward.  However, perhaps because we were chatting too much, she ended up doing the complete opposite:  the tubes are pointing downward, right into the crook of my elbow, and the tape from the adhesive bandage is also in my elbow crease, which means I can't fully extend my arm.  Furthermore, something about the way this bandage was put on feels like it is uncomfortably pulling on my skin no matter if I try stretching my arm out or bending it in.  Argh!  The bandage that was on before today was perfect - it was placed high enough that it did not restrict my arm movements and the adhesive wasn't so strong that it was already causing skin irritation.  I hate to bother her again, but this just won't do.  All I can focus on is how uncomfortable my arm is - this simply will not fly for another week, so I'll be calling her in the morning.

Ok, and now as a closing note, I want to acknowledge how amazing PICC lines.  The initial insertion of the line is a bit painful, yes, but not nearly as bad as needing to have a new IV put in every few days!  And beyond that, it allows those patients who otherwise have no need to be in the hospital to leave the hospital and conduct their intravenous treatments at home.  It allows you to continue with your normal life, whether that is at school, work, chasing your small children,or  buying your wedding gown.  Plus, and perhaps most importantly, PICC lines can make you feel better almost instantly!  I have now been on IVs for merely a week, and can already tell that I feel stonger and have more energy and breath to laugh with my family and fiance.  Though a pain to keep up with, these home IVs cold great power to heal.

And now, fellow CF-patents and friends - does anyone else out there have a PICC right now?  What is "the problem" that is bothering you this time?  Also - does anyone have a good way of getting residual adhesive sticky off of my skin?  Any advice would be appreciated!

Monday, February 4, 2013


I just have to take a moment to brag a little that my almost-husband is an amazing man.  In the past week, he has unexpectedly taken two full days off of work to be with me at a doctor's appointment for a PICC line placement, and then again for sinus surgery, and then made that time up by going in on a Saturday; he has driven across town multiple times to pick me up/drop me off at my house, and driven me to a pre-wedding beauty appointment when I couldn't drive myself but was too stubborn to admit defeat; he has held my hand in the pre-op room and made me laugh an unseemly amount for someone about to go into surgery; he has tenderly changed bloody bandages from under my nose, and patiently listened to my drug-induced Downton Abbey ramblings; he has somehow made me still feel pretty even when I have no make-up on, am sporting a hospital gown, and have gauze taped under my nose; and, perhaps most telling, he very willingly skipped out on a superbowl party so that he could instead watch it with me(/beside me) on a smaller tv while I looked at flower girl dresses on Amazon.  This was his first real go-around with the uglier side of CF life, and while I could tell he was a little nervous about figuring everything out, he did an amazing job.  I am blessed, and I am so excited to marry you, Mr. B.