Hickman Line

Today Is the day I had my Hickman Line fitted. It is not a procedure I was looking forward to. Anita, who had a day off work, was able to drop me off and drive me home. This was useful as I was told not to drive home by myself. Even so a lot of waiting around for her and not much of a holiday.

I am someone who has a “bit of a thing’ about blood. I have never donated blood, as the thought of extracting blood makes me feel quite ill. So this whole process was a bit scary. If you are squeamish you may want to avoid the description of the process which is indented and italicised below.

I arrived at Nottingham a little before midday. Thankfully we found a parking space really quickly. I was booked onto the afternoon list. The first part of the process was to take blood (as always on a visit to Haematology). Then there was s long wait until finally at about 3pm I was taken to a waiting area outside of the operating theatre.

After twenty minutes or so I was collected and taken in where I was introduced to the nurses, doctors and anaesthetists who would be involved in my operation. After explaining the procedure I signed a consent form and prepared for the operation this took about ten minutes. Then they were ready.

Firstly I lay on the operating bench with my head turned to the left. This was to allow access to my jugular vein. It’s possible to go in either side but for most people the right is better. One issue is the position of the jugular compared to my carotid artery which thankfully lay alongside. If one lay on top of the other the procedure would have been much more tricky to perform.

My blood pressure was taken as it was repeatedly througjout.. My head was covered and they swabbed the area around my neck and chest before the most painful part of the process. This was the injection of anaesthetic. The sharp sting quickly subsided and they were ready for the gory bit. (You have been warned!)

The doctor made an incision into my jugular vein which has no nerves apparently, an then proceeded to push the Hickman Line through the vein into my chest working along the vein. There was no pain just a strange sensation as the wire worked it’s way along the vessel. After much prodding and pushing and under the guidance of X-ray and Ultrasound the doctor worked to line into the correct position and out through a second incision in my chest. Stitches were applied to the neck and chest wounds followed by dressings. The whole procedure took less than ten minutes. By her own admission my doctor was speedy.

The result is I now have two tubes emerging from my upper chest from which blood can be taken and returned and a small wound on my neck.

You can start reading here again If you have ignored the procedure.

I was returned to the ward a little after 4pm. Blood pressure and temperature were taken again and I was monitored for the next two hours. The process was a lot more straight forward than I feared and the only issue is the slight pain at the incisions, which as the anaesthetic wears off, is being controlled by paracetamol. One thing I must do is avoid heavy lifting of any sort which given we move into our rented house a week tomorrow poses a bit of a problem or me and lots more work for the girls!

On Tuesday I return to Nottingham for stem cell harvesting and in preparation we were shown how to administer the 5 G- CSF injections I will need daily. More of which in my post tomorrow.

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