Friday, January 1, 2010

Port-A-Cath Failure

Just on schedule for November I started feeling sick. For whatever reason, November seems to be the time of year for major medical issues to arise. After a week or so of increased coughing, shortness of breath, sleepless nights, and B telling me to go to the doctor's... I did. I recieved the news I always dread, IV antibiotics!

I hate IV's because they limit me. While I do have a port-a-cath which means I can do this all at home with the assistance of a home health care nurse, I still hate it. It's a reminder of my health status, it's a reminder that one day the IV antibiotics will no longer help, it's a reminder of all things Cystic Fibrosis.

So, I proceeded to start the IV antibiotics in the clinic (first doses must be done under supervisor to monitor any reactions), 6 hours later I was able to go home with a trunk full of supplies. Doing the treatment at home requires all the things being in the hospital requires. Strict sterilization, flushing the IV line with saline between medications, lots of alcohol pads (which starts to make my house smell like a hospital), sharpes containers, etc. I also have to strictly follow the medication timelines, every 6 hours for one drug and every 8 hours for the second. Yep... waking up during the night to "hook up" to the drug. This requires full attention so I have to fully wake up in order to ensure all procedures are being done.

Approximately the second day into doing the treatment routine, my port-a-cath site started to hurt when infusing the medication and saline flush. I called the home health care nurse, who then suggested that I be seen in clinic. After a frustrating appointment with a woman who clearly had no idea how to deal with a port-a-cath, I left the clinic. The next day I was seen by another woman, who was awesome. She knew exactly what to trouble shoot for. She got me scheduled for a dye test, which includes injecting dye into the IV line which then can be detected thru xray where the dye is going. The dye should stay within the port-a-cath and then flow directly into the vein. Well, it wasn't staying within my veins but rather filtrating under the tissue, causing the pain.

Long story short my port-a-cath failed. They must remove it! The alternative to a port-a-cath is a Picc Line. I had a Picc LIne place when I was 8 or 9 years old and it was suck a tramatic experience that I refused to ever have one again. After finding out that the port-a-cath had failed I knew I would need a Picc Line to carryout the IV treatment. Well, alot has changed in 15+ years making the Picc Line procedure less tramatic or maybe I am 27 years old not 8! I was still so nervous that I asked B to take the day off to be with me. He was great! He held my hand, he reassured thru the entire procedure and even made me laugh a time or two. After all that the 2 weeks of IV treatment when well and I ended up with a fully charged battery!

Good news is that my doctor feels that because I only generally needs the IV treatment about once a year that I don't need another port-a-cath. I will have to use the Picc Line method each time I need the IV's but that much better than a permanent piece of plastic in my chest. I will have to undergo a surgery to remove the broken/failed port-a-cath but on my watch, when I am ready!

(picture of a port-a-cath)

(Picture of a Picc Line)
(Picture of a Picc Line)