An Introduction to Ivy

Ivy is my PICC line.  Because it carries my I.V… we call it Ivy… get it? 

PICC stands for peripherally inserted central catheter. It’s a fascinating bit of medical wonderment.  Before the PICC line, patients would have to stay in hospital just to get their 3x daily shot of antibiotics, like I’m doing now.  It frees up beds and creates jobs for nurses who do in-home visits.

This is the bag that never leaves my side.   It’s normally zipped up and is essentially a fanny pack that I refuse to wear like one.  I sling it over my shoulder like a purse.

The bag on top is the medication and the little computer regulates it. A tube runs from the medication through the computer to make sure no big air bubbles or other problems crop up because the next place the liquid goes to is my body.

That’s the crook of my right arm.  The line goes into the inside of my elbow and runs inside me up my arm and across the top of my chest to my heart.  The medication is pumped directly to my pump and delivered efficiently to the rest of me.  My nurse changes the tubing every three days and the entire system (except for the internal line) every 7 days.  It’s squeaky clean and I don’t feel a thing.  I didn’t even feel it being inserted.

Part of the package is a cozy little knit thing that’s like a forearm sweater, that holds everything together and makes it look a little less scary.

I haven’t been out among a lot of people but those who have seen me haven’t made a big deal about there being an obviously medical tube across my body, going up my sleeve, probably because I don’t make a big deal about it.  One woman did comically back up from me in Mac’s as if I was walking toward her with an open vial that said “Judy murdering fluid”.  (In this case, her name would have to be Judy.)  But I just assumed she’s an idiot.

So that’s Ivy.  I have since learned that it’s also used for delivery of other drugs including chemotherapy.  I’ve also learned to bathe with one arm and there really isn’t much it prevents me from doing, not that I’m doing much.  It’s brilliant, really.  In this age of overcrowded hospitals and debate over whether a hallway is an acceptable place to house a patient, the PICC line’s time has definitely come.  Ivy and I are due to be BFFs for another month or so.  Stay tuned.