Thought I would write about having my line put in just for people who may be having it done. Bear in mind, different hospitals have different practices. Also, see my link to Bupa for a really good little animation and explanation.
I had my line put in as a day patient. Some patients are already in hospital. If you have some sedation you shouldn’t eat for about 4 or 5 hours before, but I was told water was OK.
You will probably have some checks eg blood pressure, temp etc first. I only needed to take my top off for theatre. I had a back-fastening gown – which of course they then had problems slipping off to reveal my shoulder!
In theatre I had a shot of sedative and pain killers into the back of my hand. I had a light oxygen mask and my face was covered lightly so I couldn’t see the process. The sedation doesn’t put you right under – just relaxes you – I could hear comments. A fairly hefty amount of local anaesthetic seems to be used.
During the procedure I could feel a lot of tugging and pulling. It was only uncomfortable once, when I got a pain along the back of my shoulders – but it was over quickly and wasn’t too bad.
I was then uncovered and wheeled back to haematology for recovery and tea. The entry stitch (on my left upper chest, near my shoulder) came adrift so some strips were used to redo it. I was surprised at how dangly the tubes were. My exit site is between my breasts – just out of side of where the left one meets my chest, but it all depends on where they have put it, so yours may be different.
It all looks a bit weird – I didn’t really internalise what it might be like – but you get used to it.
Once the local wore off I was surprised how much my shoulder and arm ached. At follow up a couple of days later I was told this could last a while. The entry wound is healing up, but the exit site is still tender.
They will check it all out in the next day or so – I had blood removed and a flush through – which feels a bit strange as the cold hits your chest – and new dressings. I was also given a handful of special plasters that you can use to loop up the tubes. I have stuck them under my left boob!
I have to confess that I asked intelligent questions about the clips etc on the tubes and have now forgotten most of what I was told! If you use the line at home you will be given very specific training on flushing and keeping clean. If you don’t, you need to go in once a week to have it flushed and checked out, although I think you can be trained to do it too.
I confess that I probably didn’t realise it would take things out of me a bit and as always did a bit more than I should, so my advice is – take it easy afterwards. I had bad problems sleeping for a couple of nights and slept on my back. This and the odd paraceptamol has made my indigestion/acid reflux worse, as it did once before when I had a bad shoulder. So if you have similar problems, be prepared, prop yourself up and take some antacids! Don’t bend or lift (or do Tesco shop!!). And contact your clinic immediately if you feel poorly. My shoulders, neck and back are also stiff from sleeping weirdly, so I am exercising them gently.
It looks like healing up takes a while, but I expect it all to get easier once it does. One tip for women – I use a Sloggi stretchy pull-on top instead of a bra (wouldn’t work if you were big!) and that seems to hold things in place without irritation.
Hope this is helpful. I have shown the animation to my family so they understand it better.