A couple of days ago I started feeling really just not great. As part of my weekly dressing change, one of my nurses had to give my PICC line (the IV line that delivers my pain meds automatically) an extra good scrubbing because of some buildup that had accumulated there. After she replaced the dressing, almost immediately I noticed some condensation underneath the clear plastic dressing, but I just chalked it up to any number of things (weather was warmer, dressing placement slightly different, I was simply sweatier.
The next day-ish, I was extremely tired, to the point where I didn’t even want to get out of bed. Woohoo! I thought, maybe this was a side effect of my drug showing that it’s working. But then the next few days continued similarly, with the added attractions of fever-like delirium so without any actual high fevers. Neither Peter nor I slept at all for at least 3 nights. I was agitated, restless and highly uncomfortable. At one very low point, I wished I had died when it seemed like the time was right.
Shortly thereafter, however, my rational brain kicked in and started making some connections. I knew I had this weird, new condensation. It sort of seemed to coincide with when my pump went off. So to test my theory, I hit my bolus buttons which would force an activation of the pump and medication, and sure enough, less than 2 seconds later, I had drips running down my arm. I showed Peter, and he agreed with me that something was rotten in the state of Denmark.
Thank GOD for home palliative care and their 24 hour nursing. Within an hour, we had a nurse in our home also agreeing with us, but unlike us two laypeople, she could actually DO something about it! In the meantime, since we now realized I had been getting little to no medication for several days now, Peter gave me two oral dilaudid and I was finally able to be comfortable for the first time in days (addiction is awful). So around midnight, we pulled out the PICC line that was clearly misbehaving (it’s was practically jumping out of my skin into the nurse’s hand), and the nurse set me up with a temporary “subcue” or subcutaneous line for my meds until I could get another PICC line installed the next day (unfortunately, almost immediately after the nurses left, I realized that this one too was leaking, so I just resorted to begging Peter for pills again.
Ultimately, I got an appointment for a new PICC line yesterday. I was excited and scared, as I definitely did not remember the placement of the first one. So I loaded up on oral meds and prayed for the best. Apparently it was a fairly tricky placement, as I was in pain for a good portion of the placement (again, I have been reassured that this is NOT typical, just in case you are getting ready to get one and are now totally freaked out).
Thankfully, the new line and I are quickly becoming friends, especially since I’m finally getting meds again and I feel normal again!