So I went to work today as planned, since my PET scan wasn’t until 3pm.
At about 10:20am I got a call from my nurse asking me where I was. I said at work. She asked me when I was coming in and I said ‘well I have my PET scan at 3pm…’
And she was like ‘you’re getting your picc line in 10mins… Then you’ve got your [insert terminology I don’t understand] after that.’
I said I thought it was all getting moved to tomorrow since she said that’s now when I’m starting chemo, and she said ‘oh no these two things are still happening today, sorry I didn’t explain that’.
So I had to drop everything and head to the hospital (luckily it is super close to work and I got there pretty much on time).
I kinda wanted Charlie here for this but ok…
So I went straight to the PICC line people. Now a PICC line is pretty much like a permanent cannula that sits in my arm which I will have for the duration of my treatment and basically means NO MORE NEEDLES. Absolute dream.
The PICC line people were amazing. I loved them both. I wish I were better at remembering names. I think the guy who assisted was called June…? Did I make that up? Anyway, he was so lovely and put me at ease and put some music on for me during the procedure so we all had a bit of pop music in the background to keep everyone happy. Then I met the lady who was inserting the PICC line. Surprise surprise, she was Australian! We always manage to find each other. She was great fun, and it turns out that prior to moving here (8 years ago) she was living in Canberra! Which is where I was living for the 4 years before moving over to the UK. And in fact she was in her final week of work here before heading back to Australia for a while.
But she was great. She talked me through everything as she did it, which I am always a huge fan of. So the first step was to find the vein using ultrasound, which was super cool. It turns out that my veins split and wrap around and dance all over the place, because I just have to be different. So they found the best spot to go on – it’s on the inside of my upper arm, about halfway between my elbow and my armpit. Then it was on to sterilising the area and covering me all up, then local anaesthetic. It stung a bit at first and then was ok. Then she went to go into the vein and my goodness it hurt. I cried out in pain and she got a bit scared. They worried for a moment that they had hit a nerve (there was one just next door to the vein), but thankfully no. She gave me a bit more local anaesthetic and tried again to get into the vein. It still hurt a bit but nowhere near as much, and it was over quite quickly. I think my veins just don’t like to be poked. They hurt more than a regular person – she said she was surprised that it was hurting me because it certainly wasn’t meant to. But it was perfectly fine after she got into the vein.
And then she started threading. Poking it through my veins and hoping that it went the right way! After a bit of threading, she thought it should have been there but wasn’t yet. So she thought she would pull it out a bit. She asked me to hold my chin down to my shoulder and pulled it back out, and I felt it shuddering back down through my neck. We were both a bit shocked, she said she had never felt that before, in her 7 years in the job. I had certainly never felt anything like it! Imagine a rubber tube inside another rubber tube, maybe with a bit of a kink in it, and pull the inner one out. Think about how the rubber would catch and almost shudder as you pull it. That was my neck. Not painful, but bloody weird!
So if you hadn’t guessed, it was not supposed to go into my neck. Though weirdly, apparently this is common in young people! So with a bit of breath holding from me and re-threading from her, we successfully got it into place, sitting just above my heart, threaded from my left arm over to the right hand side of my chest. Phew! Then I got this thing put into my skin with metal hooks to hold it all in place, and I was good to go! Wow. All in all it was quite fun though, and they were really quite lovely. I wish them all the best! Though I hope I don’t have to go back there again, as I would like to go through the whole process with no issues with my PICC line!
But now I have two ‘access ports’ (i.e. two cords with a valve at the end of each) hanging out of my left arm, with a nice stretchy bandage I can put over it. They gave me some plastic sleeves for showering too. It bloody well hurts at the moment, but I’m hoping it calms down soon.
Anyway, I then wandered back upstairs and had an appointment with my clinical oncologist. It was the first time I met him and I liked him. Prof. Whelan. He told me about chemo and about how my type of sarcoma is totally treatable and should be fine, the only problem is likely to be if it comes back one day. But that’s the future’s problem. Maybe it won’t. It’s rare anyway, right?
Then I went to pharmacy to get my chemo drugs sorted out for tomorrow. The guy there was really great too. We chatted about gigs and all sorts.
I ran upstairs for a quick session with the Ambulatory Care. The room is a bit depressing, but more on that later.
Then off for my PET scan. Thankfully this time I had my PICC line! So no needles, no veins, nothing stressful, just a little bit of radioactive sugar. This is the important one that looks at my whole body and tells me if the sarcoma has run away to any other parts of my body. But apparently it’s unlikely with this type of tumour in this location. So fingers crossed that is correct! I had to lie still with my eyes closed for about 45mins while the liquid made its way around my body, so I listened to a podcast and promptly fell asleep. It had been a big day. Then 30mins in the scanner, and I was all done!
So that’s some more things ticked off, and tomorrow it’s on to the real deal! I’ll report back soon!