Gavin now has a small bandage on his chest where the central line used to be. The bomb-squad swept in and made off with that particular time-bomb and we are awash in relief to find it gone.
Before being thrown headfirst and unwilling into the deep end of the oncology pool, I had only the vaguest notion what lines and ports were. In all honesty, I found the concept of them kind of creepy and repulsive. The thought of this catheter permanently placed in one’s chest… Well, I didn’t have to think about it much, so I didn’t.
We have had the dream run with this line. I feel safe to say that now that it is no longer ticking away, but is safely on its way to some haz mat disposal site. Lines open the body up to infection, and once the line is infected, it must be pulled while the patient receives massive doses of antibiotics to kill off the infection. Usually, when the infection has cleared, the CVL is then reinserted. Obviously, this is all very dangerous, although treatable. It is not the only danger a central line poses though.
The other major issue with these lines is that they have been known to snap from time to time, especially when rambunctious toddlers catch them on things, and kink them in very wrong positions. Clearly, snapping is not good. I repeat, NOT good. We have a little emergency CVL kit which has gone with us everywhere for the last nine months. I am so very thankful that we’ve never had to use it. I know people who have had to use it, and let’s just say that I’m grateful I was never called upon to find out how lightning-fast my reflexes are with a pair of clamps.
We got off to a bumpy start with lines, after going through a PICC insertion, losing the PICC, getting the CVL a short time later, discovering that it was not drawing, and then having to have it adjusted. Since that time though, nine months ago, the only issue we have really dealt with were clots on a couple of occasions. Luckily, those were sorted out quickly and we had a big sigh of relief all around. In order to keep clots from forming, lines must be flushed and heparinized every day. In the beginning, this task was carried out by our home-care nurses, but eventually Craig and I took on that role. We have only forgotten to do it once in all these many months.
Recently, Gavin has become very resistant to doing line-care as it forced him to sit still for at least 5 minutes. For the most part, though, Bean has been a superstar of cooperation, putting up with his weekly dressing change with barely a peep of complaint. At one point, “doing line-care” became one of his favourite games, and he would go to the supply box to get out saline and heparin, and then line up his dolls in his play area. Or Mummy had to have her line-care done too. He’s probably the only 2 year-old in the city who can say “cannula.”
Beanie was such a little champ today, bravely putting up with a poke in phlebotomy. Figures that for his last blood-draw with a line in, it wasn’t possible to use it! The biggest hurdle of the day was going without food all morning. It didn’t become completely clear to him until I sat down to eat my breakfast. He said, I’m going to eat my breakfast with you! and we had to explain again that he wasn’t to eat until after the procedure. At that point he lay down on the Thai cushion in our kitchen and cried. Denying him food is torture to me.
Once we were at the hospital he became occupied playing with Bubby and Auntie Lozza, and so forgot about food for a bit. The doctor who was taking him in introduced himself as Craig, with an Aussie accent. I remembered that my Craig had met him before, so I burst out with, Oh, you’re Australian Craig. My husband’s Australian Craig too! He didn’t seem to remember meeting my Craig and Gav before so it was all a bit embarrassing. We quickly went through the paperwork, dangers and whatnot, and a short time later I gowned up and carried the Bean, Minnow and Monkey into the procedure room. Gav was not happy about having a mask held to his face but eventually conked out and I went to the surgical waiting room to wait.
We had barely tucked into our sushi when Australian Craig was back to let us know that the procedure was over, and that all had gone well. I hadn’t even had time to develop a good bout of waiting-room anxiety. We had a bit of a wait to see Gavin in recovery, and he was pretty groggy, but otherwise in good spirits. He was annoyed though, to still be denied food until we were upstairs in the short-stay unit. At long last transport took us upstairs and our new nurse gave him permission to eat something. Just take it easy, she said.
Gav ate: teddy graham cookies, cheddar bunnies, a load of raisins, a container of blueberries, a banana and a cheese in quick succession. Then I was out of snacks. He spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Bubby, until the doctors finally showed up to send us home. With no concerns, we were out of there and came home to stuff him with pizza.
It has been such a momentous week. First the NG, now the CVL. We are making a huge leap into normal, and I’m keeping fingers crossed that the site remains uninfected and that all continues well.
I am filled with gratitude for how well this line served us and how few problems it posed for us. We are lucky, we know it, we are thankful for it every day.
In two weeks time, we’re going SWIMMING!