This – a peripherally inserted central catheter – is what was offered to me in hospital, when they ran out of useable veins for i-v administration. As you can see here, on the MacMillan website, this is not a fun procedure. Then, in hospital, fun is at a premium anyway!
Not only did the very idea send my newly-acquired needle phobia (the reason for which I’ve explained in an earlier post ), into overdrive, but I seriously questioned the possibility that this might be screwed up big-time, given that they’d already trashed every easily-accessible vein through a mixture of clumsiness and plain, old-fashioned, stupidity. For example, before and after an i-v is connected to a cannula, it has to be flushed with saline solution. This is supposed to be painless but, for me, it’s excruciatingly painful and, on several occasions, was responsible for the vein blowing out/blocking. Nobody – repeat NOBODY – gave the tiniest shit about finding out what the hell was going on to cause a routine procedure to go so badly wrong. The attitude was “This isn’t a painful procedure, therefore you can’t be hurting.” Well, hey, I fucking was!
One nurse, clearly the proud possessor of a 20Watt intellect, tried to tell me that what I was feeling was cold, as the flushing saline was kept in the fridge. Er, no. I can actually tell the difference between cold – hell, the i-v bags were in the same fridge, and all I felt was a chill from them – and severe pain!
I didn’t, as far as I can recall – though memory is hazy as I was pretty much out of it at that point – actually refuse, I merely expressed my doubts that people who had fucked up veins they could actually see could safely insert a couple of feet of catheter deep into my body, especially when they couldn’t even get a needle in to draw a blood sample.
The issue wasn’t pressed, and wasn’t raised again, from which I assume it wasn’t actually vital in the first place.
As you can see from this image, drugs are effectively injected into the heart and – this occurred to me much later – I have no idea what effect, if any, this would have on my already damaged aortic valve.
An i-v by this route would certainly raise the pressure within the right atrium and ventricle (delivery pressure has to be greater than the pressure within the heart or it simply won’t work), but whether this would normalise on its trip through the lungs before getting to my aortic valve as it exits the left ventricle I have no idea. Logic suggests it probably would, and this isn’t really an issue, but I’d prefer to know for sure.
Anyway, for now, at least, the question is academic, as unless my life absolutely depends on it there will be no i-vs in my future, and sure as hell no PICC line either.