One of the lasting images of our kitchen will be me sitting at the kitchen table last Christmas season while Janine performed the weekly PICC line maintenance on me. Every week she would go through a rather lengthy procedure to change my dressing that covered and protected my arm and me from infection at the site where the catheter enters my arm. Every week for more weeks than I can count she did this.
She had to take a class and repeat the class to get certified in the procedure. "Nurse Janine" with this new credential stepped into a realm of new, unknown tasks with this effort. It started when I was hospitalized at MD Anderson back in July 2014 and began a clinical trial chemotherapy regimen. I received intravenous treatments twice a day and night along with several other drugs that were attached to me like a tree with branches and vines. Having a PICC line was sorta like a right of passage for leukemia patients. If you didn't have one you were not cool! The down side is that the dressing had to be changed on a weekly basis and my care giver, Janine was required to do this.
What started out in early August after my first discharge for her was one of the most dreaded difficult activities. In addition to removing the old dressing, cleaning the skin using several methods and swabs and solutions, applying the new dressing and label complete with written date and her name, she had to change the caps on the twin catheters. Invariably, one of these was so tightly screwed on that she could not get it to loosen. Janine and I would get so frustrated when we would have to go back to the MDA Infusion clinic to get one of their technicians to fix things. This happened several times. Once we got back to Jackson, we had to get the nurses at JOA to do it once or twice as well. They would always tell us to not get the new ones too tight when she put them on. Likewise, every day when Janine or other technicians would flush my lines they had to screw syringe like devises to the caps to do their duty. No matter how careful they were, the caps would tighten every day such that after a week these could be a nightmare to remove. Man she would get so angry when she could not loosen one and we would have to go to the clinics to do it. Never did Janine make the caps too tight. It was a poor design flaw that had two ends that twisted in the same direction. Thus when you attached anything to the one end it caused the whole cap to get tight.
So as we pack and prepare for our move away from this Jackson home, this image will forever be one of lasting fun and misery. Thank heavens I no longer have to have that PICC line!