So, rewind to January when I had my first chemo and I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t and still do not read the 100’s of pamphlets that they give you, my rule of thumb being I listen to the professionals and do what they say.
Anyway already on chemo one, I had my arm/hand in hot water to find a vein for the cannulae to be inserted so that they could administer the chemo. Taking bloods was ok but it happens regularly so you get bruises and the more chemo you have the smaller the veins become and remember with breast cancer they only can use one arm.
Then, fast forward ten days and I realised I was neutropenic and spent four days in hospital at which time they had two attempts to get a cannulae in and then to take blood I had over twenty one needle pricks which included trying in my feet. As a result on being discharged, I demanded a pic line and off I went to the sister hospital Royal Marsden Sutton.
Below is an image of what the pic line is:
Pic then became my new best friend and after a month, I didn’t even know it was their unless someone squeezed my arm or bashed into me.
The pic line has meant that I can give blood, receive chemo, have antibiotics all through the same tube and all I have had to endure is visiting the hospital once a week to have it flushed with saline and the dressing cleaned.
It is visible but its covered by a plaster to avoid infection and then a bandage and for me it is a reminder that I am ill as initially it hadn’t hit home. I have never hidden it, so its visible to people in the hope that they actually stop to think before they make a comment. It can make some people queasy as I have witnessed.
The only real draw back is that I can’t swim which with the weather improving is a shame but I have to confess I am not a water baby and for me to swim it needs to be not only very hot outside but the water warm too. In fact I am adopting my partners rule of thumb it needs to be 25 degrees.
When you shower you need to wear a sexy blue armband but apart from that, you forget about it.
As my chemo is coming to an end, I know that pic will need to be removed but I have already made it clear that this will only be once I am assured no more treatment.
I met many ladies during my sessions who didn’t opt for the pic line some for cosmetic reasons and some because it would draw attention to colleagues at work they were undergoing treatment and everyone is an individual. I can hand on heart say that having a pic made my chemo more pleasurable – if you can even make a statement like that!
I will now also confess that I didn’t read the literature on the pic line as they took me through the steps before it was inserted and yes there were side effects but the reality is sadly the whole journey comes with a long list of what if’s. I have Salem, my first chemo nurse at The Royal Marsden to thank for mine.
My tip for anyone considering a pic is to speak to the chemo nurses as they are a fountain of knowledge and they want to make the whole experience as stress free as possible.