Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hickman=My Man

I don't know who this guy Hickman was, but he could sure make a mean catheter.
No no, not that kind of catheter. I'm talking about the central venous kind. Still don't know what I'm talking about? Well you're probably not the only one.

During my stay in ICU, it became apparent that I would be needing a lot of things pumped into me over the coming months. Most obvious would be the chemotherapy I'd get, but then also there would be pints(and pints and pints and pints) of blood, platelets(even more than the blood) medications(three cheers for morphine), and fluids. This would be way too much for a regular IV line to handle, and the veins in my arm would probably be "blown." I don't quite know what that means, but it sounds unpleasant.
So, on my last day in the ICU, when I was feeling relatively(relative to what, I don't know) better, they transferred me onto a stretcher and rolled me down to the surgery wing to get a Hickman central venous catheter inserted into my chest. I was informed that the procedure would be done while I was awake, and would take around 45 minutes, so I wasn't too excited about it.
When I got to the surgery wing, I was greeted by a male nurse who looked like a black-haired Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV. I'd come to learn over the coming months that lots of male nurses work on the pipes as much as possible. Are they overcompensating for some kind of potential reverse-sexism thing? I hope not, because being a nurse is a noble profession, and the world needs great nurses. I met more nurses than I can possible count or remember, and just about all of them took great pride in their work, and were excellent at what the did.

Anyway, on to the surgery. Thankfully, it sure didn't seem like 45 minutes, and it didn't hurt a bit. When it was over, I had something stuck in my that looks like the picture at the top of this post...only in colour...and in HD...and with a bit of blood seeping out from behind a bandage.

So I was all set for what was to come. I was feeling stronger, I had my brand new catheter that would mean no more stabbing from insane vein hunters, and I was to be moved to a brand new room with no monstrosity behind me, my own bathroom, and no windows on the door for anyone's viewing pleasure.

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