I had my CVC surgery at the first available appointment. The surgery was outpatient, but I was put under (sedated) for it. When I woke up, I had a tube, clear, about the width of a pencil, and about 12 inches long sticking out of my chest, and two sets of stitches. At the place where the tube went in, there was a plastic bracket holding the tube in place which was stitched to my skin. The other set of stiches was higher up on my chest, just below my collar bone. I learned that the higher spot is where the tube went into the vein. The tube ran from there, under my skin, to the bracket where the tube came out of the skin. There was a nozzle on the end which was presumably for the medication.
I realize that there are probably official medical terms for all the parts listed in this post, but this is my journey as I saw it, and in the easiest terms, this is how I experienced it.
I was released with another prescription for oxycodone for when the anesthetic wore off about 5 hours later. And boy did it wear off! My entire shoulder and the left side of my chest ached like I got hit with a sledge hammer. Once again, the oxycodone did nothing to ease the pain, but once again, it made me just not care how much it hurt. I was out of work for the week due to the surgery and my kids were arranged for, so I went with the not caring and slept most of the week away.
My primary doctor had made the arrangements for my supplies and medication deliveries, and the home nurse that went with the package through a company. I don’t remember the name of the company, but the whole thing was very patient friendly and convenient.
I received regular deliveries of all the supplies I needed to care for my CVC:
- Pre-loaded saline flush syringes
- Antibiotic swabs, individually wrapped
- Alcohol pads
- Sterile bandages
- And those white paper on one side, plastic on the other side sheets that they use in doctors’ offices to lay out sterile tools
I also received regular deliveries of my IV antibiotics. They were pre-dosed and about the size of a baseball. No hanging bags involved. They self-administered over about 30 minutes once attached, so I wasn’t tied to chair or worrying about air pockets during the treatments. I could simply slip the thing in my pocket and go about my day until it was empty.
I had access to a 24-hour help line (which I did use from time to time). The staff was always helpful and seemed to specialize in my treatment.
And I had a home visit nurse. I realize she was just one person and may not represent all of them, but she was absolutely wonderful. Caring, attentive, friendly. And she explained everything. She came once a week to check my CVC and do a basic wellness check. If anything in particular had been bothering me, I could let her know and she would advise if I could wait until my next check up with my primary doc or if I needed more immediate attention. And she always seemed to know what was going on. I suppose she had been visiting Lyme patients for so long she was familiar with the patterns and symptoms, but it was always comforting to know that she understood what was going on and was there to help.
Twice a day, I had to wash my hands and find a fairly sterile area to set up. I donned the rubber gloves and spread out the white paper sheet thing, laying out two saline flushes, several alcohol swabs, and one ball of antibiotics.
- Remove the protective cap on the “tube”
- Clean the tube end with an alcohol swab
- Flush my line with saline
- Clean the tube end with another alcohol swab
- Attach the antibiotic ball and wait the 20-30 minutes to administer the medicine
- Detach and clean the tube end again with alcohol
- Flush my line again with saline
- Clean everything one more time with alcohol and put the cap back on the end
Once a day, I had to change the bandage over the spot the tube entered my chest. So, again wash up and put on the gloves, and this time a mask, and spread out the paper thing, but this time with an antiseptic swab, more alcohol swabs, and a new bandage. I simply had to remove the bandage, clean everything really carefully but thoroughly, and apply a new bandage.
The saline and antibiotics had to be kept in the fridge, so they always felt a little chilly at first, but not horrible. And the whole process was usually pretty easy and non-threatening.