Central venous access (ports, PICC lines, Hickman catheters, etc.) ➡️ live-saving vs. life-threatening? Risks vs. benefits?
Personally, my PICC line is the only way I am able to receive many of my treatments. Home health nursing enables me to receive infusions prescribed by out-of-state doctors, as I cannot travel across states each day to receive treatment. That being said, there is a significant risk involved every time I access, de-access, change dressing, or flush my line.
The initial order by my doctor was for a port- I was never supposed to have a PICC line! Last minute, the anesthesia team decided they were unwilling to place a port under general anesthesia (as ordered) due to my cranial and cervical spine instabilities.
This PICC line has been troublesome for me. The insertion site has never healed due to my EDS skin; the skin around the line continues to tear and bleed after each dressing change. My MCAS hates the constant need for dressing, and I dislike the inability to de-access myself at times.
This line involves daily work, a lot of time, and careful attention- but ultimately, it provides me a level of care I could not receive without it. I get nervous each and every time I deal with my line, worrying that I may have contaminated something despite my utmost attention and care. It is a source of stress, AND a source of comfort. Like many things in chronic illness, two starkly contrasting feelings continually coexist side-by-side. I am slowly learning to accept that truth with each new device, scar, and medical risk taken. 🌙