Thursday, August 12, 2010

PICC Picnic Under a Warm Blanket

Can you say peripherally inserted central catheter?

Had a quiet morning waiting to go to the hospital to have my PICC installed.  Surgeon had mentioned Wayne does the procedure, I was really hoping so.  You remember Wayne, my favorite radiology nurse?  If you have forgotten, go back into my blog in early May, and read the one entitled "Houston, We have a problem."

Here's an excerpt;  I was scheduled to have a vapogram of my first port, and it was my last encounter with Wayne.

I show up Monday for the test. They get me ready, take out Flopsy and Mopsy, who by now are used to the drill. The radiology nurse comes in, he is going to access the port for Dr. Zen. When that's done, they will shoot the special dye in and Dr. Zen will be able to observe it as it travels through the cath and hopefully into my vessel.

I am so nervous about my port being accessed. I mean this thing is like a Lego under my skin, I repeat, under my skin. I start deep breathing. Nurse Wayne comes in, he has a very gentle manner about him, and he's already surmised I am scared shitless. He rubs my arm. He explains the whole thing to me. He says it is a long needle but a tiny needle, it's going to be ok.

Tears run down my face. "So it's not going to be like when Dr. Zen hurt me, with the core needle biopsy?"

"No, no sweetie, nothing like that. And this is how they will access your port every time."

"But they prescribed me a cream to rub on my port an hour before I come when I start chemo, and I didn't get any creme today."

Tears run down my face. I feel like I am going to lose it. I feel about 5 years old and I need my Mommy. Where is my Mommy?

Nurse Wayne pats me. "You are doing just fine. Everything is going to be ok. I know you've had a rough time of it, and all of this is new and there's a lot more coming. Just get through one thing at a time. You are a real trooper Debbie. I am sorry you are going through this." He looked at me intensely, like he really really meant it. He looked me straight in the eye and didn't look away.

Wow, this is what I had been needing to hear, my whole life. My whole life. A little of poor poor baby, and you are doing good, and I am so so sorry for you...

First order of business today?  Check in at the hospital admissions desk.  I've gotten the same nice lady every time, she reminds me of Terri Garr.  She's a real doll.  She hadn't seen me in one of my wigs yet, I wore the Jennifer Aniston today.  I know she was trying to place me and just couldn't.

"Can I ask you, where do you get your hair done?  That is a great color and I love the style."

I love this part.  It happened at Costco the other day, getting my card renewed.  The gal at the customer service counter asked me the same thing.  Same wig.  I whispered in her ear the truth, and I am undergoing chemo.

"Wow, you look just beautiful."

I leaned in to Admissions Lady.  "You know me" and I held out my right hand.  As soon as she saw my opal ring and bracelet, she knew who I was.  She remarks on it every time I've come there.

"OMG it's you, you look great, I love that style and color on you."

I repeated the secret, and told her this is wig one of three.  She asked me about the others, and I told her I get the biggest reaction from the red one.

I leaned in.  "That red girl is a little naughty."

She fell out laughing.  She's also a golden blond.  "H-m-m-m, I may just have to consider something like that."

"Uh huh, I don't know what it is, but when I wear the red wig, my alter ego comes out."  We both had a good laugh.

I made my way down the long hall then right to Imaging, checked in and waited my turn.

It wasn't long before I could see Wayne making his way into the waiting room, looking for his patient.  It seemed as if he knew he was looking for me, but couldn't find me.  I waved.  He looked surprised.  I gave him a hug. 

"How do you like me as a brunette?"

He blushed just a little, "I knew something was different."

He said "Ok, so what's going on here.  We are replacing your PICC line?"

"No, putting a new one in.  Remember how my first port got all tangled up?"

"Yes" he nodded enthusiastically.

"Well, my 2nd port was just removed by Surgeon on Tuesday.  It was trying to come out of my body.  One of the black nubs was already out."

He looked at me in disbelief.

"I'm here today to go to the next plan, a PICC.  I am hoping you can put it in on my right side, since I'm a lefty and I'm a server, and planning on returning to work a night or two.  Surgeon said that would be fine if you think it will be fine."

He contemplated.

PICC on the right because you've already had two ports over there.  On the other hand, we don't like to put the PICC on your affected side, and you're a lefty.  Ok, give me a minute, I need to go research this, and I'll be back for you."

All the tension and all the waiting was much better knowing I would be in Wayne's hands.  That is just how some people make you feel, as if because they are there, you will get through it, and he will help me get through it.  He has a way about him.

He came back a bit later and said "Ok, let's take a look at the right, and give her a try."

"Ok" and I followed, went into the little dressing room, took off shirt and bra, and put the gown on.

After a short wait, Wayne called me "Ok girl, let's go."

I followed.  He turned to ask "Did you bring a blanket?"

"Huh?" I asked.

"Would you like a blanket?"

"Oh, I thought you said did I bring my blanket."  We laughed.  "Yes, I'd like a blanket.

His lovely assistant, I think I will name her Sophia, after Sophia Loren, said "Ok hon, get on the table and lay down."  She got me another pillow, at Wayne's request, and then tried to adjust it underneath me.  I thought my wig might come off.

Wayne came back with a nice warm hospital blanket and tucks me in.  Nothing like a warm blanket to help summon your bravery.

"Watch the wig" I giggled.
"That's a wig, honey" Sophia says "You look great!  Aren't you a blond?"
"Yeah, I knew something was different." Wayne said.
"Thanks, I have three of them, but everyone seems to like the red one the best."

Wayne checks my right arm, the under side of the top part of my arm, looking for a good vein.  "This looks beautiful, ok, let's get started.  Now once I get it in, hopefully the veins will cooperate all the way up."

Oh Lordy, then if they don't, I suppose we start all over again on the left.  Oh Lordy.  Wayne prepped the area with the stinky stuff, and I'm not sure what else. 

"Ok get ready for the stick and burn."

Deja vu.

"The stick and the burn."  I tell him. "More like the ice pick and the napalm."

"Now who would want that and it would scare the children" he laughs.

"And the big children..."

The stick.  The burn.

"Ok, this is going to feel like a wasp sting."
"Ok."  He was right.
"Now get ready for some pressure."

Let me tell you how this lingo works folks.  When they say the stick and the burn, you already know what that means.  When they say "you will experience some discomfort" that means pain baby.  When they say "pressure" that means a lot of pain baby.

I feel the pain, oh man, some of this shit feels ungodly.  I can't explain it.  Like somebody is poking places that just aren't meant to be poked, and threading stuff into you like trussing a roast.

"Ok, now I'm going to thread the line up, it's about 50 cm long, and I like to have most of it inside so you don't have a lot of it on the outside getting in your way."

"Hey, that's right, you are my ok girl, you are awful agreeable to everything."
"Oh, I can be feisty, especially with the red wig on."
Wayne and Sophia laugh.

Wayne continues and then says "Ok, I think we've got it, let's take an X-ray and have a look."  They X-ray my chest.

"Beautiful" Wayne says proud of himself.  "Let's have the radiologist take a look and make sure he thinks so too."  Wayne and Sophia leave the room with my X-ray.

I am alone in the room.  I have a moment, looking up at the machine over me.  I've been in this room before. Another layer of acceptance floats down from the fluorescent lights, onto my blanket, and into my brain.

I have breast cancer.

Wayne comes back in the room with a big grin.  "Ok, everything looks great, you're all done Hon!"

As I get off the table, I ask "Do you get the local paper? They did an article about me and the blog I've been writing since my diagnosis."

"Uh oh, I better be good to this girl, she might write about me."

"I already have!  Don't worry, I don't use any one's real name."  I wrote down the blog address for him.  He walked me to the changing room.

"I hope I don't see you again" he said with a look of concern and affection on his face.

I hope so too Wayne.  Thank you Honey.  You are the best.  I hope so too.

Ok, so let me tell you about this thing hanging out of my arm.  Wait, something I need to do first.

Ding dong my port is dead, my port is dead, my port is dead, Ding Dong my wicked port is dead.

Ok, I feel better.  This thing hangs outta your arm like an IV with a super long tail with a connector at the end of it.  It was very tender and sore right after the procedure.  It is getting better, but honey don't move your arm a certain way cause Yikes!!!  Ouch.  You got a tube and line going up there.

What a week people.  What a week.  Starting with last Friday.  Good Witch says that port has to go.  The Relay for Life.  Seeing Surgeon at the Luminary Ceremony.  Tuesday the port comes out like some scene from Gone with The Wind, minus the liquor.  Thursday, hello Wayne and hello PICC.

Tomorrow it's back to normal for me.  My new normal.  Chemo day.  Can't wait to see all my peeps and the Good Witch too.

What a week, and what a weekend ahead!!!  Midge comes up to scout wedding and reception sites in Napa.  Then my usual two nights of extreme insomnia on my decadron high, wrestling with my dark side.

and Sunday?  Batman comes home from tour with the Concord Blue Devils!  Yippee.

Maybe, just maybe, some smooth weather is coming my way.  Unless God has already heard about my "f" bomb prayer.  Kimberly said she thought I would be forgiven.  "I just know it."

Just in case, put in a good word or two for me, will you?

1 comment:

masonmft said...

I know a secret, God invented the f*@# word (and warm blankets) for occassions just like this. No confession or pennance required. Uh...who knew I still knew Catholic words. Sending love and prayers for tomorrow and always. xoxo

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