BA 7: With a Little Help from my Friends.

Gathered Comrades, Painful Rituals, Cruel Tricks and a Surprisingly Welcome Surgery.

The antibiotics I was being given for this infection were top grade, in the sense that they were extremely powerful and therefore came along with extreme side effects. Mostly the inability to keep down around fifty percent of my food in the first few days.
My body did eventually begin to adjust to this new drug (which some of the doctors referred to as bleach) and I started to only be sick every two hours instead of every thirty minutes.

The Pin Cushion

This, however, was not the worst part of my new prescription. The worst part was the fact that the cannulas which delivered the medicine into my system kept on bursting and needing to be replaced.
There was a time that, (and here I exaggerate not a jot), I had my cannular replaced no less than twenty times in the space of four days. Not only was this very painful it also became deeply depressing, as every time I saw fluid leaking out of the dressing I knew it meant I was in for another session of my least favourite game, “Find The Vein”.

Face needles for comedy value only.
They actually only stuck them in my arms.

Understanding was dawning as to why the villain from “Hellraiser” was so grumpy.

I had received so many injections and had so much blood taken that the sheer volume of needles with which I had been perforated seemed to have created a defensive response in my body, where it appeared to be shutting down any “damaged” veins to prevent any more blood loss.

One day, after thirty six unsuccessful attempts at inserting a cannula, with me broken and in tears while my mum sat seething in the corner, only seconds from damaging the nurse, my doctor (of many years) materialised.

He entered my room on proud strides and told the nurse to halt what she was doing. Then he turned to me and, in a tone that sounded more like a mafia boss than a medical professional, he said;

“I’ll get this sorted out. I know a guy”.

PICC of the Bunch

The “guy” he knew was actually a colleague of his, a surgeon who, among many other things, inserted devices called PICC lines.

They are basically much larger and more permanent ways of delivering medication. Rather than going in with a needle, these are long tubes inserted into a vein surgically and inched carefully along the internal bore, allowing medication to be delivered just above my heart.

They had not previously gone down this particular vascular route with me because of the fear of exacerbating the existing infection.
However, it was decided that the need to get guaranteed accurate doses of antibiotics into me was, on balance, the most important consideration.

I was a bit nervous going down to the theatre as it would the first time I had ever have been conscious during a procedure. Granted, it may have been a small one but even that in itself was quite unusual for me. Going for surgery meant slipping on a mask, counting back from ten and not even reaching five before waking up groggy in a totally different room.

For this one however, I was just receiving an injection (yes, another one but at least they didn’t have to find a vein this time) to anesthetise my arm before he started cutting away.

It was actually really interesting. They had large screens all around the room with machines scanning my arm so I could watch the tube as it went in.
Now, although they said I shouldn’t be able to feel it inside my vein, wiggling its way up my arm, under my shoulder, past my neck and finally down towards my heart, I have a faint memory of the sensation. That might have been real or it may just have been my mind making it up but either way, now you are imagining how that might feel, aren`t you?
All this was made easier by the fact that my surgeon was blasting Bon Jovi from his wireless speakers.

My mum was allowed to sit with me through the procedure, though she had to wear some protection because of the radiation, which looked a very thick tartan apron.

The whole process was, thankfully, painless and at the end I had a tube with two access ports dangling from my underarm around five inches below my shoulder.

No more cannulas. Woohoo!

Not the Worst School Trip.

A couple of weeks into my daily routine of waking up, antibiotics, watching Frasier, more antibiotics, going to the hospital café for a dream ring (best part of the day), antibiotics, playing Minecraft, antibiotics for supper and then sleeping, my mum got a phone call from my head teacher.

She asked if I was allowed visitors and when my mum said yes she told her that she was going to organise for a few of my classmates to come to the hospital at least once a week.

It was just the kind of boost I needed following the stabbings and the weeks of daily upchuck that had been visited upon me.. Apparently some of the teachers were threatening to send some homework with my friends but I wasn’t sure what they were planning on doing if I didn’t complete it. I doubt the hospital would have let me come back to the village just to attend after school “homework club”.

I think it must have been pretty weird for some of my friends the first time they came to visit. Hospitals had always been a part of my life so I was used to being in them (albeit not for this long) but most of them hadn’t spent much time at all in one.
Still, they were all happy to come along and, for at least a short while every week, provide me with the company I so needed. We had a laugh, talked about what was happening at school, they made fun of my tubes of many colours and one week I filled an empty one (supplied by a nurse who was surprisingly supportive of my mischief), with raspberry juice. Once my friends were all sitting comfortably I allowed the open end to fall out of my sleeve and watched the horror unfold.

That’s what they get for calling me “The Borg”.

I must also give a shout out to our School janitor who, every week, made the hour drive into Inverness and sat in the hospital café for two hours while I was being entertained. That was pretty cool of him.

The Wisdom

  • Speak up.
    Despite the pain, I, like a chump, just sat there quietly allowing the stabbings to continue until another option presented itself but speaking out earlier may have moved me more quickly towards the insertion of my Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter, (Try saying THAT ten times in five seconds), thus avoiding a lot of pain and tears.
    I thought best not to complain and let them get on with it.
    That was wrong and I think it is perfectly acceptable to complain when something hurts that much.
    There are times when you shouldn’t feel worried about upsetting someone else or causing too much of a fuss. I will say it again, “thirty six” needles in one day and I didn’t say a word.
    What was it I was thinking of? ?
  • People are an important part of recovery.
    The people surrounding you while ill or recovering from being ill will have a huge impact on your mental state, which in turn will have a huge impact on your physical state. A lot of people might shrug it off as unimportant but trust me as someone who has been through it enough times, without my family and friends there as support, the whole process would have been a lot darker and more painful.
    I dread what it must be like to be in hospital at the minute, when people aren’t allowed to have anyone around them. We need to work hard to get everything back to normal as soon as possible.
  • I don’t care if you’re joking, when I ask for a quote for my blog, I’ll use what you give me.
    My sister didn’t understand this when I asked her earlier tonight.

Obligatory Blog Quote

“No matter what anyone tries to tell you, strawberries are always better with sugar”.

My sister when I asked her to say something inspirational.

Thanks for reading folks, I hope you all enjoyed this one.
Stay safe and be excellent to each other.

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3 thoughts on “BA 7: With a Little Help from my Friends.

  1. Having looked at the photo of you with the PICC line, I can’t remember if that’s what I had when I was in ICU, I’m convinced it was called an A-Line though… I don’t know but similar to you, it was to administrate medication and be able to take blood. That’s so lovely of your school to organise that!

    1. It could have been the same thing but just with a different name. It sounds like they put it in for pretty much the exact same reason. It wasn’t fun getting it done but not needing a needle every time they wanted to take blood was a bonus for sure.

      It was really kind of them and I’m sure it did me a lot of good to see some friends, especially with everything else being so crazy. A little bit of normality goes a long way.

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