Thursday, January 05, 2006
An Unwanted Journey: Day 0042 - My PICC
Tomorrow is the final preparation before treatment begins. There will be a blood draw in the lab as well as the insertion of the PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter).
The blood work will provide a baseline for the efficacy of the chemoradiotherapy, monitoring haemoglobin, platelets, red blood cells, alkaline phosphatase, carcinoembryonic antigen, creatine, and many other measures. I will be able to monitor these weekly scheduled measurements through My CARE Source online.
The PICC line is plastic tube which will be inserted into a hole created in a vein with a needle near the bend in the elbow. The tube is then pushed through until the tip is close to a large vein just above the heart. It is likely that I will then have an X-ray to ensure that the PICC is in exactly the right location.
There are a variety of reasons to have a PICC for the cancer patient. One reason is to avoid constantly using needles to draw blood. Another is to make it easier to provide chemotherapy and antibiotics directly into the blood stream, especially where the drugs can be quickly diluted by fast flowing blood in one of the major veins near the heart.
The PICC will probably be in my arm for a few months, being flushed and the dressing changed weekly. There are some potential medical problems such as infection or clots, but the advantages seem very clear to me. Exercise, dressing and undressing, showering, etc. may be uncomfortable. If I’m lucky, my personal trainer may figure she needs to be more lenient with me in our training sessions.