Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today began with an appointment to have a central venous catheter placed in my chest. Since I was feeling a little skittish about having a scalpel applied to my chest, the infusion therapy nurses had two syringes of veracet waiting for me. There was a brief argument about which side of my chest the catheter would be placed, mostly on my part. I wanted the contraption placed on my left side since that's where it was last time. Call me vain, but I wanted to keep all of the scarring on one side. It was because of the scarring that I lost the argument. Once this matter was settled, a disagreement arose as to how much veracet I would get.

I am a small person, I know this. I am also a rather stout small person, so I tend to fall into that nether world of petite and sturdy. The head nurse felt that one syringe would be enough to relax me, but I felt otherwise. We reached a compromise in which I would take one syringe and wait to see if I still wanted the second one. One was enough to take the edge off and I decided to be a big girl and proceed.

Since the catheter was being placed on my right side and I already had a picc line in my right arm, the nurse had to pull part of the picc line out without totally removing it. Even though I was mildly sedated, watching part of the line being fished out of my arm still nauseated me. It was hidden under a bandage while the nurses proceeded with placing the CVC.

Today, I learned that I was born with a unique complication. The big vein in my chest on the right side is very deep under my chest tissue and it lays flat. I know this because the IV nurses were using ultrasound to place the line. The vein also lays very close to the big artery on that side which made things even more difficult. The fact that the vein was buried so deep and tended to lay flat made things nearly impossible. It also felt like I was being hit in the chest by a fast pitch softball every time they tried to snake the catheter in. After an hour of trying I could hear the frustration of the APN each time my vein disappeared. There was discussion to the effect of getting a different catheter and trying again tomorrow. This was vetoed in favor of getting a doctor in to take a shot at placing the catheter.

I was given the second syringe of veracet which effectively made me not care what happened next, shortly before the doctor arrived. She got it placed on the first try. I was stitched up and placed in a wheel chair due to my spacey state. After a quick stop at x-ray, Chris and I went to lunch.

I don't remember anything from that point on. Chris said I slept while he got food and I only woke up long enough to eat. I must have passed out again, because the next thing I knew, I was having my picc line removed. I have to assume that the x-rays came back okay.

I passed out again as soon as we got back to the apartment. I now feel like a mule kicked me in the right side of the chest. My shoulder aches every time I move and I have to hold my head still, lest my neck moves the wrong way and pulls on my chest. It's a very odd existence tonight. I know this feeling will resolve, but I can't remember how long it takes. On the up side, I think I've finally caught up on all of my sleep.

I have to go back to the infusion therapy clinic to have the bandage changed on my chest tomorrow. I also have a blood draw at 4pm and then we'll be off to see if a room has been made ready for me on the BMT floor. I've already been warned that Friday is the busiest day for hospital admissions, so it could be pretty late before I get in. I'm thankful the apartment is only a few minutes from the hospital. If worse comes to worse, we can just hang out until we get called back.


Jennifer said...


You got guts girl - I kept my eyes closed both the insertion and yesterday's groshong removal. I tried the agruement scarring on one side - did not work for me either. Good luck on your start of the journey tomorrow. I will be keeping you and Chris in my thoughts and prayers.

Kepp fighting this beast

Ronni Gordon said...

What an awful experience. Sorry you had to go through it. They should have given you the two syringes to start with. I had three Hickman catheters and have two scars on my right side and one on my left. They do fade with time, as, hopefully, do the bad memories.

Susan C said...

Oh, my what a dreadful experience. I'm glad I was completely out when they inserted my Hickman.

I always have to have "the talk" with the anesthesiologist about how I'm half Asian and a cheap date with the drugs. (Yes, Asians have this issue.) Otherwise, I can't wake up for 24 hours, in spite of being dragged around like a rag doll in an effort to revive me!

I can't believe tomorrow is check-in day. Woo Hoo!

Anonymous said...

Ann- That lunch much have been memorable to say the least! You often bring a sense of humor to possible painful and anxiety provoked situations- an amazing talent.

I hope ou are all tucked in your new room sound asleep. Keep the updates coming!

xo-Lea Morrison

PJ said...

I feel weak just reading this. As ronni says, the scars do fade. You can barely see the one I have from 2006. Hope today goes smoothly. xo

michelle said...

I keep reading this entry over and over again thinking " if Ann can do this awake then I can do this (a third time) heavily sedated!" I can't believe MD Anderson does this without putting you to sleep and without a surgeon. You got some guts woman! Last month we found out that I got the wrong line placed. Instead of a cook or hickman I got a permacath which is normally used for dialysis patients. It's huge and has great blood return, but it's HUGE and I hear Stanford may have to replace it when i get my transplant because it makes me more susceptible to bacteria and infection. Arg. I still don't understand how this mix up happened. I was so proactive about this when I relapsed because I wanted to make sure the one Kaiser put in would work at Stanford. I think I'm at peace with it now. I just hope I get the chance to get the third line place. Knowing that you have been awake during the procedure makes me feel like a whiner... Even if I have to get it replaced I'll think of you for the courage! (I just don't want to be awake when they pull out the current milkshake straw from my chest! :P)