Sunday, May 13, 2007

PICC up the pieces (say what?)

I was thinking yesterday, as I was infusing my antibiotics, what an amazing piece of technology the PICC line is. Thanks to it, I do not need to have someone prick my arm and find a vein every time I need my antibiotics, and they can draw blood through it, too. Basically the way it works is that they put a needle into a vein in your arm, then somehow feed a lengthy tube up the vein until it reaches a more central vein. In my case, the intravenous line goes from the middle of my upper arm up to where my shoulder and neck meet. But here is what it looks like on the outside:

That little golden ball you see is the antibiotic, and these things are also amazing. They are sort of pressure-packed, so that as soon as I unhook the little valve in the tubing that connects the antibiotic bomb to my PICC line, the pressure of the ball starts pushing the drug into my body: no need for gravity to do the work, as with a traditional IV, and therefore no need for one of those metal carts you usually see with people on IVs.

Today we went over to the infusion center again, for what I hope to be my final blood draw. (Typically a home health nurse would come to the house to do that, but because I will be visiting my parents next week, that is not possible, and they must do blood tests and change the dressing on the line once a week.) There was a bit of a wait, because it was busy in there today. The PP was waiting in the waiting room (of all places), and got to talking with the other people waiting on people getting their infusions. (Many people either choose to--or must, for reasons of insurance--get their antibiotics infused in the doctor's office, so it is open seven days a week.) It turns out that everyone in there was there because of an infection that resulted from surgery. And I learned in the conversation in the infusion center itself, that one woman, whom the others call "Saint Teresa," had been coming in there since the fall of 2005. That is once a day, every day, every week, every month, for more than a year and a half!

The whole experience has made me both marvel at the achievements of medicine, and wince at the reality of how dangerous it is to be hospitalized. And it is all a lesson in patience.


MartyTheFool said...

>It turns out that everyone in
>was there because of an infection
>that resulted from surgery.

Isis, wow, SCARY! Thanks for the info. It's a great device, unfortunate how many people get to see it first hand for what seems like a bad reason.

Good news on the blood draw though!


Yarngineer said...

For the last few years, I have been worried about getting an infection if I was ever admitted to a hospital. Fortunately with my outpatient surgeries, I have not been infected YET. I will even worry about it if I have a baby. Infections are scary and serious things.

Poor St. Theresa.

Joe said...

That picture makes me a bit queasy.

Magpie said...

Amazing. Continued good healing to you.

Chris said...

i had a picc line in 7th grade. I had an infection, so they gave me my medicine in that. It IS amazing. I could carry out life almost normally(couldn't get it wet) I also used that ball medicine. I thought it was very cool because I didn't have to stay in the hospital.