After an interminable period of nervously waiting, Thursday was
finally upon me – the day I would have my line inserted. I still did not, at that point, fully understand the full ramifications of what was about to happen. All I could think about was the impending procedure and what it represented… the physical confirmation and constant reminder that I was now a ‘sick person’.
I knew the line insertion was a procedure, but I was not aware of the details. I knew it involved the insertion of tubes, to allow me to have Dialysis, but again, I did not really know, or comprehend what that really meant. I spent that Thursday getting more and more upset and worked up and – to be honest – just plain terrified.
When they finally came for me, I am not ashamed to say, I was a bit of a mess! They wheeled me through to the procedure room. A room which was so incredibly clinical, that it only served in making my anxiety ten times worse. Now, I know it is a hospital, so what could I expect, but a wee bit of music in the background – anything to make it feel more normal – would have been so welcome. As they put me in position and hooked me up to the monitors, I could hear the constant bleeping of the machine, telling me that my heart rate was racing like the beat of the most energetic song ever!
I was laid flat on my back, looking up to the lights above, with my hands by my sides. A doctor, a nurse, a healthcare assistant and Andy were all present. Through everything, having Andy’s calming presence there; holding my hand and just generally being lovely, has been such a strength – I can’t even describe how lucky I feel. So, when they asked him to leave the procedure room, the panic really set in – and I have never felt so alone and so very afraid in all my life… and I have done some scary things in life! I could not stop the tears from flowing, the hyperventilation, or the feeling like my heart would burst through my chest.
I understood that, generally, such a procedure would be performed using a decent amount of sedation, to ensure a feeling of mild amusement with everything! However, they were unwilling to give me more than the tiniest amount, for fear of health consequences at the time. To be fair, that level of euphoria, or even detachment, would have taken an awful lot of sedation! They setup their equipment and got ready to begin.
The next part is one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in living memory. I had to give verbal consent for them to proceed with inserting the line. I was in such a panic I could barely speak. “Stacy, you need to say yes, you want us to put the line in” I couldn’t “Stacy, you need to tell us to go ahead – it has to be your choice” but it would never have been my choice. Stuck in a battle between knowing that I needed this procedure and desperately wishing I was anywhere else, anyone else… meant it was almost impossible for me to consent to giving them the go-ahead. I don’t remember if I ever actually articulated the word ‘yes’ – but I assume I did, because they continued.
A sheet of plastic was placed over my face and right-hand-side of my body – a template of veins etc I guess. The local anaesthetic injections stung, but the thought was worse. I could feel the tubes going in and being pulled through, but it wasn’t painful. I could hear the sound of the tubes snaking against the plastic – a sound I will never forget. The most painful part of the procedure was the awkward position I was lying in, which put immense pressure on my back. However, this did take my mind off of the procedure!
Two tubes were attached to my jugular; snaked down my chest and exited through my right breast. I think this is particularly difficult for a female for obvious reasons. Certainly for me, vanity seems to always trump; when, even in the hospital, I was worried about my hair. When the tubes were in, I was stitched up, the area was dressed over and I was sent back to my little oasis on the ward.
The area was stiff and a little soar afterwards, but the psychological wound would take longer to heal. I have had that line in for three months now and I can honestly say; I would do it all again. The line, though not my most flattering feature, means I am able to have Dialysis; receive iron and have many blood tests – all without feeling even the tiniest modicum of pain or discomfort. I wish somebody had told me all of this, before I had the line put in, then I honestly don’t think I would have felt half as terrified or upset with the situation. I now realise that the line is only temporary; is just part of my treatment and the existence of it in my chest, serves only as a reminder of the marvels of modern medicine.