Thursday, July 12, 2007

Farewell, Mr. Hickman

Darlings, tomorrow we can all say goodbye to the faithful yet annoying Mr. Hickman, of Hickman catheter/central line fame.

Yes indeedy. He's been around for almost 50 days and, having done his job, it's time for him to go. Especially since my counts are now at a point where I may need only a few more transfusions to get over the hump. I wish I could say that Mr. Hickman and I have been having lots of naughty fun recently, but sadly, the only thing I'm doing in bed is drugged-out sleeping. I've been feeling like warmed-over sh*t for the past several days with low-grade fevers and random malaise, more than likely due (says Dr) to infections of the line, which are a common occurrence. So it's time for him to go. I'm happy that I'll finally be able to take a shower without wrapping half my torso in Glad Press-N-Seal and Industrial Medical Tape to keep the line dry. I'm happy I won't have to keep telling Bambina to "be gentle with Mama" so we don't accidentally pull the line out. (Believe me, no one wants to see that). I'm happy I won't have to look at a plastic tube coming out of a hole in my chest every day. At the same time, a part of me will miss him, kind of like that cheating ex-boyfriend we've all had, where you're simultaneously thrilled to be rid of his issues and yet unable to fathom your life in the near term without him. He was a son of a b*tch, but he was MY son of a b*tch.

Now, should you find yourself in the unlucky position to need any kind of contraption that is half in/half out of your body, for god's sake kids, do NOT google anything about it. Seriously. I breezed through the insertion in the OR because I specifically avoided any and all documents describing the process by which the doctors insert it. I knew in general, but I didn't see diagrams or read about calamitous results of medical errors. I just showed up and said, "Do your thing." Well, actually, I said, "I'm going to be drugged up, right?" But you get my drift: NO GOOGLING medical procedures. If you are not a doctor, don't read anything meant for doctors. As if competing to win Medical Scrabble, they notoriously tart up their documents with words like "erythema" which just means "redness." (I know this because I saw my file on day 6 or so and was alarmed to see that I had erythema of the line exit site. Luckily my nurse filled me in before I started writing my own eulogy). Anyway, back to the google docs: they will only scare you, especially when you see that your doctor is your own age or younger. You think, okay, I could have been drinking Milwaukee's Best with that kid only ten years ago before he got hammered and peed in a closet instead of a bathroom--and now he's going to insert a tube into my superior vena cava?!! Not bloody likely!

Having said that, I was fighting insomnia one night and just (as my bro would say) "for sh*ts and giggles" looked up "hickman catheter removal." What can I say? Stupid is as stupid does. I am beside myself with thoughts of this procedure which, in layman's terms involves nothing more than some lidocaine injections, a snipping of the stitches, and a gentle tugging on the line to pull both parts out of the veins, then pressure to stop air getting in and blood getting out. Go home soon thereafter. But what did I do? Yup, I read a medical document. Wherein I learned that a catheter incorrectly pulled can cause an embolism and death. Thank you, UCSF you b*stards!

So the good news is that Mr. Hickman is going to be history tomorrow. The bad news is that I'm going to spend the entire time hoping that Doctor Youngblood doesn't pop me an embolism in his rush to get home and watch a High School Musical/Aquamarine double feature with his friends Avril, Britanee, Josh and Devin.

If you hear from me by Friday night, then you'll know it all turned out okay. Or you could always google news for "hickman embolism" and see what comes up. Kind of like what our dear departed Southern relative (let's call her Aunt Oma) used to say when we were getting on an airplane: "Have a safe trip, bay-buh. I'll watch the news to make sure you git there okay."


Anonymous said...

I hope your parting of ways with Mr. Hickman goes smoothly. Your mention of Aunt Oma brings back many fond memories. Thanks.
Love, Peej

Anonymous said...

You just had to bring up Aunt Oma...I'm laughing so hard-thank you! As for you-best of luck and god speed Mr. Hickman, been nice knowing you :) Think of all those nice low cut shirts you can now wear..he he
Love Nomer

nm in mn said...

fantastic! I hope you get to keep it. In a slightly weird way, it would be kind of cool. Just don't use it as a straw, that would be too much.

Anonymous said...

Yes, don't drink from it. That is wrong in so many ways, but you would win the "I never" game with that one.."I never drank out of my own Hickman line." That certainly sounds naughty...

E said...

Girl, I was rockin' the low-cut shirts anyway. Love me, love my Hickman. Besides, the only people I see these days are sitting in a hospital, so we're all vectors for Hickman Chic.