PICC Line Works

Friday, I got a PICC line installed. I was told the procedure would take 45 minutes, and technically, it did.
This did not, however, count the set-up and the follow-up. It took about an hour to assemble the mise en place, and then after the line was in, it took another hour for a chest x-ray and to generate the appointments for the weekly dressing change.

However, the line seems to be accomplishing its purpose. Right after the line was installed, it was used to draw blood for my lab tests, and today it was used for the infusion of my monoclonal antibodies. I decided to accept the offer of a PICC line the day it took five tries to get a working IV started. Today, no tries at all because there was a line sticking out of my arm. No need to make new holes.

Alas, there are entities in Kaiser that aren’t allowed to hook up to the PICC. So over Thanksgiving Weekend, I’ll probably have to take myself to a clinic lab, and they’ll have to make a fresh hole in me. Hopefully, after the veins have had a rest, it’ll be easier for them. (Actually, they haven’t had much trouble with a blood draw.)

The PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line is a catheter that’s installed into a vein, and then threaded up to the superior vena cava. This spot is chosen because it’s nice and wide, and when strong drugs are injected, there’s time for some dilution to occur before they reach the wall of the vein. I’m under the impression that the current drugs, a monoclonal antibody and a bone-strengthening agent, aren’t that nasty. But they’ll be diluted anyway.

And so with this, my exploration of 21st Century medicine continues.

Now I’m Committed

I’m at City of Hope, and I’ve just received my big dose of chemo to kill off my bone marrow. Tomorrow, I get the stem cells that were harvested from me put back in.

The idea here is to kill off the cancer in my bone marrow without killing me off, and then grow a new set of bone marrow from the stem cells.

My doctor thinks he’s actually cured a couple of patients, rather than merely extending the time until they relapse.

I won’t mind if it turns out I’m number three. Or even four.

Foot Officially Put Down

I’ve been looking at having a new heart valve installed. One of the drawbacks of having a team of doctors on my case is that I don’t always know what any medical decision is going to be until it’s actually implemented.

The procedure to install the heart valve has been scheduled for August 14. Or not. One oncologist wanted to move it into September. But the other oncologist is fine with leaving it where the cardiologist scheduled it.

I’m happy with August 14 as the date for a new heart valve. It’s exactly opposite Valentine’s Day, so it strikes me as an auspicious date for repairing a broken heart. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So my instructions to the nurse who called about scheduling is, leave it on the August 14 date, unless someone comes up with a compelling reason to change it.

Now all I have to do is survive it.