…like opening up the dressing to find the catheter half out.
In order to keep Haley’s central line clean, I will have to learn to be as quick as a thief, steady as a surgeon, and calm as a deep breath. That time has not yet come.
Three days a week, I must change the dressing of Haley’s central line (essentially an open wound that still bleeds), and twice a week I must flush the two IV lines that dangle from her body, all the while blocking out her cry that I’m causing, that hits me right in the womb.
The hospital has set me up with home nursing care– they provide all of the dressing and IV supplies, as well as provide great moral support while I learn a task that must become first nature. ”Joy” the nurse was a joy, and I find comfort in how she guides me through this process. Part Mary Poppins, part Martha Stewart. I had to flush her lines by myself the other day when I saw blood in one of them.
I hope I get used to looking at a feeder line going through my baby’s body. So far, I haven’t. I finish changing her line, and Haley’s cries turn into uncontrollable giggles. I wish I could do that. I pick her up and hold her close, so she can calm me down.
Today is February 8th, which should have been Haley’s fourth day on chemotherapy (they have to wipe out her own bone marrow to make room for the new one). But one look at her runny nose and watery eyes, and the doctors felt it was too dangerous to knock out her immune system. So we are back in DC. The new start date is March 5, which coincidentally is also Purim (Jewish holiday that can be summed up like all the other holidays: Someone tried to kill us. We lived. Let’s eat.).
In the meantime, they put a broviac central line into Haley. It’s essentially a permanent IV line that is inserted into the upper chest and is inserted into an artery. This line has to be constantly cared for (the dressing changed and the IV lines flushed every couple of days). Between me and Ranan, I’ve taken up this task. I’m not yet proficient at this task, as the site cannot be exposed to air much, for risk of infection, and the first time my sterile gloves snapped in half.
It has been quite a roller coaster ride already– gearing up emotionally, mentally, and intellectually for this procedure that comes with it risk of everything from mild learning disorders to death. And so we wait, and gear up again, and keep in mind that she will never remember this. Anna has been pulled out of school, and we’ve been purelling and cloroxing that there’s not one microbe that dares show its face.