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Friday, November 8, 2013

Getting a Picc Line

The surgery to remove the bone flap was relatively a piece of cake compared to the brain surgery I had just went through two weeks prior. It took less than 90 minutes and no one had to wake me up in the middle of it.

I spent the next 2 days in the hospital so they could get blood work and find out what type of infection I had. It can take up to 5 days to see what would grow on the culture, but mine was determined within 24 hours. It wasn't anything they hadn't seen before, so that was some good news!

Before I could be released they had to insert a picc line in my arm so I would be able to take IV antibiotics from home. The only good part about having a picc line is that is serves two functions: 1.) Receiving IV antibiotics 2. )It can also be used to draw blood. Each hospital has a dedicated "Picc Team" which usually consists of 2 people. These people are specifically trained to this. Now I'd like to tell you that it's "not that bad".....but I'd be totally lying! After having this done twice I would recommend taking pain medication (like percocet or whatever they have you on) about 30 minutes prior to this. Not really for the pain portion, but it really helps to relax you and make you sleepy. It was by accident that I discovered this. The nurse had just given me my meds and then the Picc Team arrived not too long after.

Overall the whole thing takes about 45 minutes. There is a decent amount of prep. Everything has to be sterilized because they are inserting a small tube in your arm that will stay in there up for a decent period of time.  They almost always choose the arm that you write because you'll keep the arm moving. Both times for me it was the inside part of my right arm.

So now here comes the "not so fun" part. They raise your hospital bed up to about chest height and pull disposable covers over your chest and face. You'll have to turn and look in the opposite direction....which I would recommend anyhow! The team uses an ultrasound device to find the vein that they will use (usually large with no blockage). Before they start they will disinfect the arm area 3 times. You will be given a local anesthetic (stick and burn) in one or two areas. You still will feeling sensation while the line is going in. Try and stay relaxed and keep breathing. Once the picc line is in they will attach the ports (1 or 2) that the meds will go into (and blood can be taken from). And a sealed covered will be placed over the area. They will flush the line or lines (if you have 2 ports) to make sure they are working properly.  After that a chest x-ray will be taken to make sure the picc line is inserted correctly (which is actually done right in the room).

Once the doctor approves the placement you're ready to go.....and extremely thankful the process is over!

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