Just thought I would shine a light on some problems we in the UK should be aware of concerning our beloved PICC lines.
These weird and wonderful devices make it possibly to get infusions easily, get blood drawn and receive everything from transfusions to IV antibiotics without searching painfully for that one good vein.
What I didn’t know, is that they are subject to causing blood clots in our arms, unrelated to the usual blood clots associated with having cancer.
Also, one can suddenly become allergic to the dressings used to secure the line!
So, at the very end of my last treatment, I suddenly became allergic to the dressing, so that I had a lumpy, itchy rash that lasted for 2 months after the PICC line was removed.
This year’s treatment began a a little over a month ago and I had the PICC line inserted into my other arm, just in case. Sadly, an ugly spotty rash began almost immediately under the dressing.
The Chemo nurse gave me an expensive hypoallergenic dressing, but the rash only got worse. At my next infusion, it looked like my arm had the measles.
The rash was so bad, I felt as if my arm had swollen up around it. And guess what? It had!
Only it wasn’t the rash. There was something wrong with my arm. The Chemo Suite had me come back and whisked me upstairs to the Vascular Department, where the technician performed a quick ultrasound, because he already knew what was wrong, just pressing the wand against my shoulder.
There was a blood clot there caused by the PICC line.
He assured me I was not in any danger, but the line had to come out and I had to go on those tummy injected blood thinners again.
The doctor spoke to me back in the Chemo Suite and it was decided that I would now have a Portocath, which is pretty trouble free once inserted and does not require a dressing.
It is a bit more problematic to fit and needs time to heal before one can be infused, so I hope I get an appointment quickly, so it’s ready for my next infusion on 24 of December.
I guess what this is all about, is that I never thought about a possible blood clot from the line and if I had, I would have gone in a lot sooner. I should have realised that the swelling of my arm was not a good sign.
So, pay attention to the details ladies!
PICC lines are not perfect.
Best wishes to all,