Saturday, January 07, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0044 - PICC and pickin'

Medical Stuff
Today (Saturday), the Community Care Access Centre of Waterloo Region (CCAC) nurse came to our house to change the dressing and flush the line for the PICC catheter (peripherally inserted central venous catheter). Since this was the first visit from the CCAC (delivered through CarePartners), we had to go through another health questionnaire. We also discussed the details of how often nurses would be visiting me at home to change the dressing. Evidently the chemotherapy nurses will flush the line weekly when I visit the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre (GRRCC) on Mondays, but the CCAC nursing team will visit me at home once a week to change the dressing, probably on Friday mornings.

My wife and I watched the procedure carefully, just in case we have to perform the procedure ourselves. It is a sterile procedure which means that the nurse and patient both have to wear masks (I only have to do so if I want to face the nurse and watch the procedure, which I do). Removing the tape, swabbing the insertion point in gradually larger circular movements first on-time with hydrogen-peroxide and a second-time with povidone-iodine, allowing time for drying, and then reapplying the see-through tape are fairly straightforward. There is no pain involved except for the removal of bandages which usually means pulling out hairs on the arm.

The PICC line I have in place uses a needle-less injection cap (CLC2000®). This prevents blood from backing up into the catheter as well as enabling the delivery of fluids and medications into the blood system. The line itself has a single lumen (central channel in the line). The nurse uses a syringe from a medical kit which I pick up from the home care department of the Grand River Hospital’s main pharmacy. Medical supply kits can be picked up from the pharmacy on Tuesday or Friday afternoons. Each syringe has either a saline solution to flush the line or a heparin solution to prevent blood clotting in the line. Injecting the solutions requires carefully eliminating any air in the syringe and then very gradually injecting the solution. Quick or forceful movements could be dangerous, especially if there is a blockage already in the line which could then be forced out into the blood system.

Home Stuff
I’ve been meaning to play the guitar for quite a while now, but realized this morning when I actually took my Tacoma Chief (C2C) out of its case that I hadn’t touched it since being diagnosed with cancer in late November. Prior to that, I had been practicing my fingerstyle Christmas songs and carols. Today, however, my fingers could only take a few minutes of play. This may be a good thing; I am forced to think more about music and music theory if I want to get back at the guitar. Today, for instance, I found myself running through chord progressions and trying to write out chord frames and progressions on sheet music. I’ve never done this seriously before, so maybe my illness will be the occasion to try on something new with the guitar.

A good friend, whose father passed away from colorectal cancer and who has been writing to me regularly since my diagnosis, has been forwarding photographs of his guitar and amplifier collection. These are primarily investment opportunities for him, but I’m sure the pure aesthetic delight of seeing these one-of-a-kind beauties is just as important to him. He certainly has me salivating over some items in his collection.

In any case, I’m hoping now that I’ve actually picked up my guitar again that some of the shock of my diagnosis has diminished and that I can enjoy music wholeheartedly again. Instead of the PICC line, maybe I can concentrate more on picking the guitar.

No comments: