What is the worst pain you have ever experienced?
On my second day at my new hospital in Malaysia, I already could feel a little heavy whenever I walked. I felt a really bad pain on both of my knees, and I needed the support of my mum to walk somewhere as near as the toilet. My chemotherapy had not yet started and already I was feeling crap.
One night I was casually going to the toilet, very carefully I sat down and there it was. A really bad cramp on my back side. I screamed in pain, in a position of half sitting, half standing. Some nurses rushed in immediately to offer help. I could not move for I knew if I moved an inch, I would feel the same unbearable pain. Slowly the nurses and my mum reminded me to breathe and helped me to an upright position. I was already in tears.
It was the steroids cut. Even though I was still consuming it, the dose was lowered down by a lot, therefore my body who had been relying on it was in a state of shock. It was as if my muscles lost all of its strength in a night.
One of the nurses brought back a special toilet chair, it was placed on top of my toilet seat giving it leverage. This means that I didn’t have to bend down so much, this chair became my necessity during the first leg of my treatment.
How is it possible that a year ago I was lazing around on the beach in Barcelona having a laugh with my friends and now, I have a “special chair” just to pee?! What did I do to deserve this? Why? Why? Why? WHY?
Too many questions crowded my mind. I was miserable and most of all I couldn’t understand the change in my body. I felt so weak…and SO MUCH PAIN!
Before I knew it, my doctor ordered for me to get myself ready for my first batch of chemotherapy. It wouldn’t be the standard chemo since I still had jaundice but he was giving me a low dose. He didn’t want to waste anymore of my time, it was time to act. Time to get rid of the cancer cells.
As I told my doctor about my fear of needles and also him observing my fine lines of veins, he decided that it was best for me to have a PICC Line inserted.
A what now?
Basically if you google what a PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters) Line is, you’ll get this:
Which is precisely what it is. It’s a long, flexible tube inserted from my big vein (in the arm) that goes right through the heart. This “device” was put on my right hand.
The good thing is that I don’t have to get pricked whenever they needed to take my blood or insert intravenous chemotherapy (IV chemo).
The minus side is to have it placed, they did a minor surgery…well OK, my doctor rolled his eyes at me when I said “surgery” but it was kinda! They injected me with anaesthetic on my arm then did the dirty work, put this flexible tube to my heart from my arm then stitched it on my skin to make it stay put, while looking at the XRAY every once in a while just to make sure the tube was in the right place. Very professional I must admit!
I cried a lot but really it wasn’t that bad!
After that they put a sterile bandage on top of it and I saw two tubes danggling from the flexible tube. These tubes are the ones that will be used to inject medicines and take blood.
This PICC Line was not so pleasant to put on (ehem *minor surgery*) and my mum had to learn how to clean the flexible tube insertion and change the bandage every 3 days with alcohol. Not to mention that i have to be careful when moving around with my right arm. BUT this device was (still is) a lifesaver for me since I didn’t need to get pricked by needles hundreds of times right?!
This is a lame picture of it, just to get you an idea of what this awesome device looks like!
Anyway, I was all set. One of the nurses came to talk about the side effects of chemotherapy, including hair loss, loss of appetite, ulcers, etc – all sounded so scary! But really my mind drifted off and didn’t quite grasp what she was saying for all I could feel was the pain on my backside and how it was getting harder and harder for me to walk.
A PICC Line can lasts up to 6-8 months when cleaned and checked regularly so this device really helped me a lot!