Today was another good day. I was asked to go to lunch with my old friend Rob from work to talk about God and cancer. We had a nice long chat about both and he gave me a great bible. Thanks Rob for the encouragement and enlightenment. I was actually able to eat and it all stayed down.
Tonight was the first time we cleaned the port (Central Venous Catheter). This is a tube that is usually inserted into a vein in your arm, groin or under the collar bone for infusion therapy. Mine is located in my arm and is called a PICC line. The catheter is designed to stay in place throughout your chemo treatment. While at MDA I met a woman who had her catheter in place for 3 years. The CVC has many uses such as infusion of chemo therapy, blood products, antibiotics, IV feeding, and other intravenous medications. Mine goes from a vein in the side of my arm and they led a tube to the main artery in my heart. It's done this way to protect smaller blood vessels from the chemicals. When the doctor told me about the procedure I thought she must be crazy. She brought me in a small surgical room and made me feel comfortable. I asked her how bad it would hurt and she said you'll just feel a few sticks. That's exactly what happened. They deadened it, put it in, and then stitch it in 3 different places so it won't move. It's been sore but getting better each day.
Maintaining the catheter is very intense. If the dressing gets wet we have to change it and have must change it weekly. It's important to wrap it with Glad Press n Seal before showering to keep it dry. We have to flush the catheter daily with Heparin which is a blood thinner that keeps it from forming blood clots. Because it's a blood thinner I have to be very careful not to cut myself. We were trained in 2 sessions at MDA and then had to prove we knew how to clean it before we went home. While cleaning the CVC everything must be extremely sterile. Each time you clean your CVC you must open up a new sterile pack. It includes scissors, sterile gloves, the medication, sanitizer, swabs, tape, and a bandage.The person cleaning it must keep their gloves from touching anything outside the sterile field including clothes, my arm, etc. If they accidentally brush up against something they must start over. Everyone watches the person cleaning it carefully to make sure they don't slip. The main concern is keeping an infection out of the main artery. If there is an infection you may be in the hospital for 2 weeks. They also have to follow a strict, regimented order when cleaning the CVC. For example, when cleaning you can't go back to the same spot twice. If you do you must start over. You also must move the swab in a circular motion. The process takes about 45 minutes to complete. Although it was nerve racking for the first time, we were able to successfully get the new bandage arm. Thanks Kim for all your help.
One day you have a normal life and the next day you wake up and have a disease that turns your world upside down. The change has been difficult for everyone involved. You go from being a refinery worker to almost a doctor when learning about overcoming your cancer.
Below is a diagram of a PICC line.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5