Yesterday was the day that were able to remove the PICC line. We know at some point around a year from now, we will have to put one back in for a follow up dose of chemo. That said…
Today is the day:
- She can shower without having to protect her arm.
- We don’t have to remember to flush her lines.
- We step without any foreign object in her body.
It seems simple. Since October 13th we have had to be careful with her arm. For the first couple of months, the pic line lumens dangled from her arm. Bathing and showering required covering with a watertight seal. Often that meant cellophane wrapping with paper tape.
We progressed to a mesh netting and gauze to keep the lumens in place and secure. After some searching on the internet, I was able to find these cloth sleeves that would cover them up. She had a variety of colors to wear. I found it interesting that she preferred the lighter blue color vs the black or pink.
There was a rubber sleeve with a suction bulb that we would squeeze on to her arm and then suck the air out for an airtight seal. Way too often I would grab her skin trying to seal the hole where the bulb attached. I never felt good about that. I tried my best to just grab hold of the plastic. It hurt that she hurt.
Many nights, we did not mess with it as she soaked in the tub with arm propped on the side of the tub. On a rare occasion she would forget about it and get her arm wet.
In all these months there was never an issue with the area of insertion. It was always clean and looking healthy. I am not sure how many patients end up with infections at the site, but we are grateful that was not our situation.
The dressing change staff
MD Anderson is staffed for excellence. I can only imagine how many dressings are changed in each week at MD Anderson. These dressings do need changing weekly. I often let Michele go into the back room for the change alone. I knew she would be well cared for, and I often took it for a moment of alone time as well.
The times I did go back there was always a calm and peaceful presence among the staff. There is a lot of time spent waiting for things to dry. So, they chat. Talk about where they live. Where they may be going. There is a sense of quiet encouragement and normalcy. I am not sure if MD Anderson has it as a course or not. If they do, I hope they share with other institutions.
Today is a day that feels like Freedom. We leave tomorrow for a vacation with family. We have Andrew and Andrea driving today with our niece, Jennifer, to join us for our flights tomorrow. Michele has spent most of the day writing more applications and packing in between. After 10 months, she will be boarding a plane for the first time. A time now with individuals having the choice to wear a mask or not. The doctors strongly recommended that she wear one (or two).
I remember my heavy travel schedule prior to 9/11. I remember the strangeness of not being able to fly. I remember the first flight after that time. It was incredibly quiet. It was different than it was before.
I believe that tomorrow as we step on the plane it will also be different. Our lives have been reset. A slate wiped clean to live anew with much more attention to the things that matter most. Family. When all else falls away, they are the ones still standing.
I will take a break from posting while we are gone but promise to return with pictures and stories of laughter and living.