After more than a month of being on remission, I went back to the cancer institute for my scheduled consolidation or intensification chemotherapy. The goal of this phase is to destroy any remaining leukemia cells. It was also the start of the preparation for my stem cell transplant tentatively scheduled on July 2008.
First, my Hickman line was reinstalled. It is a silicon tube placed into one of my major blood vessels leading to my heart. It is used for giving treatment directly into a vein for my chemotherapy, administration of intravenous fluids, for my blood transfusion and for taking blood samples. The benefit of this thing is that it will save me the discomfort of having needles repeatedly inserted into my veins. I hate needles really. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
The procedure actually started with a lot of x-rays in my neck and chest. When the vein has been identified, the line was then fitted. The procedure lasted for less than 30 minutes. Of course, it was done with a local anaesthetic and some intravenous sedatives. The line actually enters a vein in my neck (my collar bone) and exits from my upper chest. It was inserted through a tunnel in my skin. There were tingling sensations and pinches of pain during the procedure. It was very uncomfortable and I got four stitches after the incision. Keeping my “dangling line” in place is a stitch placed around the catheter. I was told that the stitch will remain there until the normal tissues has grown enough to hold the line naturally. Also, I was informed that there’s a small cuff in the tunnel which supports the tube.
I had four chemo sessions already using the reinstalled line. And as expected I was wasted, nauseous and exhausted. The day after my second chemo I’ve spiked a fever and was given a liquid paracetamol. When I woke up the next day, my temp went down from 101.2 to 98.5. Thank God.
Just a while ago, I was told that my “precious” Hickman line is due for flushing and cleaning with saline and heparin anytime this week so as to prevent it from being blocked by blood clots and also to avoid contamination. The nurse also told me that they will teach me how to clean it so that I can do the cleaning when I go home. Yahoo!
My oncologist told me that this “thing hanging on my chest” will now become my constant companion and best friend and I better give it a name so that our “bonding” will become more personal. Okay then, so from now on, my hickman line will be called “Hickie”. Ha ha ha.