Monday, 12 April 2010

Lymphoma Assoc. Chairy do, PICC line infection, a week in hospital, Femoral line and Chemo#4

Well this past week has been very eventful! This may be a long read...

A lovely lady my mam works with organised a chairty fundraiser for the lymphoma assocation after she heard I was raising money for them through shaving my hair off. It was a good family day with kids easter egg competitions and colouring competitions etc that I had to judge (eeek, dread to think how many little kids hearts I broke!) I even had to give a little speech which was quite nerve racking! I think a total of about £400 was raised which was amazing and apparantly one person donated £100 individually!
After the charity do I went to Pools (Hartlepool United Football team) and we won 2-0 woooo!
When I got home, after having pain in my picc line arm all day I decided I'd have to inform the hospital. When I'd taken my coat off I noticed it was slightly swollen above the elbow and I knew pain and swelling indicated infection.
I went on down to the hospital where I thought I would just have the line removed and then be sent home but to my absolute shock they wanted to keep me in over night. They took about 7 tubes of blood to be tested too. I was really upset because I'd suffered with the PICC line for 5 days and now I wasn't even going to get chance to use it and my chemo was due the next day. They wanted to keep me in to start me on IV antibiotics. By taking them through a drip going into my veins they were quicker and more effective than tablets.
The next day I found out they couldnt give me my chemotherapy because of the infection in my arm:

Because my arm was so swollen and painful on tuesday night one of the doctor reccomend I take some tablets...up my back passage!! I nearly died when I heard what they wanted me to do lol but in the end it wasnt that bad, and like they said it would make the drugs be absorbed quicker and so relieve my pain better than if I took it orally.

The doctor who inserted my PICC line came to see me and he looked like he was dreading seeing me haha! He said his main concern was giving me the nect round of chemo rather than the infection. He was saying he didn't want to risk the 90% cure rate which was pretty scary to hear really cos this was the second delay I was having. After he'd discussed my situation with my consultant they had decided they would put a new line in me every day of the chemo and then remove it straight after. I was going to have my chemo on the friday and I had the choice of either another picc line, a line in my neck or a femoral line that goes into a big vein in your groin. I opted for the femoral line because he said it was really easy, quick and the veins down there were the biggest in your body.
Later that day I was told my body wasn't responding to the anitibiotics because my immune system was so low. I just remember crying because my arm was literally getting bigger infront of my arms and it was as if they couldn't do anything.
On the night, my venflon fell out (the small tube you have inserted into a vein to take the drugs) which got me upset again infront of the doctor but he said that the antibiotics were having some effect as I had an infection called Cellulitus that he said could take over your arm overnight and mine was only spreading slowly.

My arm started to show signs of reducing size thank god!! They started to cover it in a special cream and bandage it up regularly that was supposed to help the swelling. I dont think much else happened this day apart from the usual IV injections and oral antibiotics taking.

The day of the dreaded femoral line...
The doctor on wednesday said he would put me down for sedation, I think because of the disaster of the PICC line insertion. Anyway a group of 3 doctors turned up on the morning to insert it and said they wouldn't reccomend the sedation cos it would just leave me feeling sleepy for the rest of the day and the procedure was quick and done with local anaesthetic anyway. I think it was supposed to take about 15mins max...30-45mins later it was in. The only word I can think to describe it is horrific. The tube goes in at the top of your leg in the crease. They had to try both sides because on the left side they knicked my artery so I could feel the blood pouring out of me. The whole procedure was very painful because they had to try that many times and it was on their very final attempt that it actually worked. It's definately something I'd not want to repeat. I remember telling the doctors before they started that nothing ever works first time for me and they were reassuring me how easy and quick it was...funny eh!

Chemo - was painless for the first time yay! However, because of where the femoral line was, I couldnt move my leg for fear of it falling out and then I needed the toilet just after the chemo had finished and because I couldnt walk it meant I had to go in a bedpan. Possibly the most humiliating day ever! The line was taken out and I was sent back up to the ward.

Pretty much a week later and finally allowed to go home! Sent home with a LOAD of antibiotics, painkillers and antiskickness tablets to take for the next week. It works out at 36 antibiotics every day. Bleurrrgh, theyve already made me throw up once.

Anyway I think I've included all the important things so hopefully the next entry will be a bit more positive. Hopefully only 2 more trips to the hospital for chemo! Fingers crossed!

Friday, 2 April 2010

PICC line

I caved in and agreed to have a PICC line inserted into my arm. It's just like a cannula in that its a tube that goes into your vein except it goes in at my elbow and the end of it ends up in my chest somewhere.

The insertion did not go well at all. The doctor said it would be best to put it into my left arm since i'm right handed...makes sense. Basically the procedure goes as such: you get jabbed with a big needle (bigger than blood test ones) into a vein in your elbow and then I think its left there while a tube is threaded through it (I didnt look during that bit!)

So the nurse put the turniquet on my arm to get my veins to pop and the doctor said I had good veins - first time ive heard that! I was relieved as I thought it would mean the process would be straightforward...oh how i was wrong! He jabbed one vein with the needle which I'm not gonna like - bloody hurt! Then he started to wiggle the needle about because it wasn't in right - ouch ouch ouch! No success with that vein so he opted for another near it...stabbed with the needle again ouch! Wiggles about again ouch! Then he tried to thread the tube up....OUCH! Apparantly it was hitting a valve and just wasnt gonna go up so I turned to look at my arm and the doctor said and i quote, "Don't look now, its a blood bath" which it was - blood EVERYWHERE so its a good job I don't faint at the sight. By this point I was blubbering away because of the pain and because every single thing I've gone through with this whole crappy cancer has not been straightforward, there's always a problem somewhere.

Anywat this meant he had to resort to my right arm. Got the needle in and he didnt think it was in properly again but luckily when he tried to thread the tube up it worked THANK GOD. I thought i'd feel it going through but I don't think I did, it was just a bit weird. Got bandaged up and went home.

Its now 2 days on and to be honest my right arm is pretty much useless as the tube is coming right out the bend in my elbow so i can't move it much which is kinda crap since im right handed. I cant do the simplest of things like pick something up off the floor, get dressed or put make up on. It really got me down today and ~I was on the verge of going back to the hospital to get it mam was even on the phone to them about it but I know I can't take the pain of the chemo so either way I'm stuffed. I just don't see how the uselessness of my right arm is gonna be woth it more than 10minutes of pain every 2 weeks. I've looked to the internet for reassurance that it will get better but all it's done is confirm my fears that it wont. Im gonna have to have a chat with the nurse about it on tuesday as I'm really not happy and it's got me really depressed.

A quick update on the hairloss situation...the past few nights i've fallen asleep with my dressing gown hood covering my head so I've not noticed much more hair coming out but I suspect more will come out quicker after my chemo on tuesday sighhh. For now though you cant really tell (I Hope!!) Heres a picture: