Tuesday, November 23, 2010

PICC Placement Fiasco

I don't know what to say about this even except that I have never been so scared in my life.  I thought I was going to die and I kept repeating over and over in my head that I didn't want to die this way.

Rapid Response had to be called during my PICC placement.

I don't remember too much after the initial excitement, and I only remember bits and pieces during.   What happened was this:

The PICC nurse was placing the line bedside, as I have always had done.  She had a little resistance at first but it finally went in.  As she got to the end, the walls started to close in, my stomach dropped to the floor and I thought I was going to pass out.  Then my throat closed.  This was in seconds.  I told her something was wrong and started yelling I couldn't breathe and to help me.  Next thing I know there are people everywhere, a nurse rubbing my head telling me everything will be OK and a doctor rubbing my feet shouting orders.  I heard them mention the code cart, rapid response team, Benadryl and O2.  A mask was placed on my face at full force O2.  Benadryl was injected into my IV line (not the PICC).

I remember seeing a ton of yellow....the gowns they were all wearing.  Looking back I am quite impressed everyone gowned up before coming in.

I remember thinking all I wanted was Peter and I know I mouthed it.  I was crying, hoping that I wouldn't die. If there was any doubt ever about how I felt about him (which there NEVER has been), this whole thing cleared it up.  All I wanted was him.

I was in and out of consciousness.  When I began to come to, I could hear more.  I saw the room empty when they brought the x-ray machine in.  Felt my body moved forward for the plate to go behind my back.  I remember my shirt being pulled up to allow the heart monitor stickies to be placed.  I remember people saying to hang in there.  At one point they asked me to open my mouth, I remember thinking that I didn't want to be vented.  Apparently I didn't open it wide enough because they kept repeating to open wider until finally I did.  I laid there expecting the tube to be put in at any second.  Luckily, I was spared.

Everything was blurry.  I was crying, though not hysterically, my mask was partially covering both eyes and I was groggy from the Benadryl.

I could feel the tightness on my arm from the PICC and remember thinking that I didn't want it and I would deal with peripherals until I could get a port on Monday.  I still have the PICC and it works great.  Looks great and doesn't hurt at all.  The PICC nurse came in later and mentioned I was yelling for it to be removed.  Opps, I don't remember that!

My doctor came in at some point.  I know I looked around for him but couldn't see him earlier.  He hadn't been there at first.  He was across town in a meeting but came as soon as he was paged.  He has been in a few times since then and has been a huge support in this.  He wants to make sure that this doesn't happen again while I am here.

I just finally came off of the heart monitor about an hour ago.  They were watching my O2 and blood pressure.  Both were low.  I am on constant O2 right now because when I remove it, I de-sat to below 90%. This is a side effect from the trauma of the morning.  Something that can and will improve over the next day or two.

I'm shaken up over all this and realize just how bad it can be and how something so "trivial" can cause something so major.

I am glad to be awake, vent free and alive.

(P.S. this happened Friday, Nov 19 and was written that night)

A few days have passed now since this happened and I am learning more and more.  They are thinking what caused this is the nurse pushed the PICC in too far to my heart.  This happens very RARELY but when it does it causes all sorts of troubles.  With me, the troubles were multiplied because of my already horrible functioning lungs.

As I meet more people I am also hearing more and more.  My nursing assistant today was there on Friday and she was telling me some things.  Like how people were outside of my room praying I would make it.  How everyone was pulling for me because I am so young and too young to die.  I won't lie, this made me cry.  I know that part of it is because know one knew what was happening, but also that I was in a pretty serious state for a short amount of time (though to the people working on me and to me I am sure it felt like an eternity!).

I wasn't going to post this originally, but you can see I changed my mind.  I've told everyone that needed to know what happened, so now the rest can hear about it.

I am fine now, no adverse effects from the fiasco.  However, I will be using IR from now on for PICCs unless I decide to take the plunge and get a port.


  1. got my 3rd yesterday. A central line this time so hopefully no more issues.


  2. I'm telling you it was the Horror story thread that did it.


  3. OMG Amy! That's scary as hell! If I were you I would just take the plunge and get a port. I debated for years, but once I got mine I LOVE it! If you're not ready then definately use IR for future PICCS for sure! I'm glad to know you pulled through it. US CFers are the ultimate fighters!

  4. Well now I'm terrified. I go into the hospital Monday for my first round of IVs and I'll be getting my first PICC. They're definitely going to have to load me up with anxiety meds!

  5. Amy that sounds horrific. I go to B&W and have always gotten the picc placed in IR. Before the clinic was split into peds/adults, I would have it placed by a nurse in children's; but once I had to start with admissions to B&W they did it in IR. Granted you can wait up to four or more hours, but the safety factor far outweighs that. Also, they can offer you some sort of sedation (versed) I think for next time if you are nervous. Sorry this had to happen to you, but glad that you are doing better now.

    Catchastar (from cf2 chat)

  6. Chags it is SO that dam thread!!!

    Misha, don't be nervous. This was far from my first PICC and this RARELY happens. If you are, tell the doctors and they can give you something for the anxiety. My first PICC I was a nervous wreck and the woman who did it talked to me the whole time and answered every single stupid question I had. She was awesome and really made me feel MUCH better. I wish I could have brought her to MA with me lol.

    IR will be getting my business next time that's for sure!!!!!

  7. So, so, so scary! I'm so sad that you had to go through this :-(

  8. Oh Amy!!! I'm so sorry you had such a terrifying experience. I was welling up reading this :/ I'm so glad you are ok now!!! No more of this alright!? ;) Hope you continue to feel better. <3

  9. Amy, when we talked you didn't make it sound so bad. Yes you had the crash cart but you left out some of the details. I must say the picc looks great. No bruising or anything. You looked good today as well. It was nice to visit(oh wait we aren't supposed to) so it was a nice virtual visit. I managed to sneek out undetected so we are safe. I hope you are feeling better and your thanksgiving day plans work out(whichever way you end up wanting them to be). Take care and keep up that knitting.


  10. amy -- that sounds absolutely horrific! i'm so sorry you had to go through that and i'm really glad to hear that everything thankfully turned out ok. you bring up a good point about the importance of remembering that these procedures that become almost routine to us can actually be incredibly dangerous with one wrong move or misstep. we should remember to always take them seriously and count our blessings when things go "right."

    i can' even imagine how traumatic it must have been. i hope you've been able to relax (ha!) and recuperate from that event (not to mention all the CF stuff that landed you in the hospital in the first place) over the past few days. i'm also definitely a supporter of only getting pics in IR, especially if you need some poking and prodding to get the picc in as i do thanks to stenosis of the veins in my shoulders. feel better, amy!

  11. Oh Amy, that must have been so traumatic, very scary. And having to hear more and more a few days later, more details. Hugs to you

    I must say, if I were you I would definately go for the port. Have to say, I have never had a PICC. Only periferals and ports

  12. Holy crap that is scary stuff. I know ive said it before but i still cant believe that they've always done them bedside. I'm glad to hear you're good now.

  13. I am just now reading this (Saturday night), and I want to add that you were in good spirits later that day, but surely "shaken," tired, and I could tell you had been through some sort of sweaty mess of an incident based on how white your face was. I think its important to note how RARELY this sort of thing happens, and that no one should rush to get a PORT if they don't want one, because of reading this. That being said, what Amy wrote is also true, when a "minor procedure" is done, there are alwyas risks, and if you are severely compromised to begin with (sick, low lung funtion), the risks are greater. I xxoo you, Amy, and I'm glad we've become better friends!

  14. Yes exactly what Beth said. I wrote my experience out because well this is my CF blog :) But no one should worry that this WILL happen to them. I'm considering the port but chances are slim I will get one. However, knowing how I AM, I will have to go to IR because I just won't be able to relax and will probably give myself some sort of stress related issue.

    I'm glad we have become much closer too Beth!!! <3

  15. One of my earlier PICCS I had to go back to IR to get it moved because it was too far into my heart and was causing me palipations and a panic-like sensation. Even my port, though I told the doc about this problem (subsequent PICCS I was able to recognize it during placement and they had to pull it farther out until I said OK - which they said it was wierd for people to "feel" them from the inside, but not unheard of); anyway, even my port, if i lay in a certains position on my right side, will cause that strange palipation feeling and I start to get really worried...but when i move it goes away. I have not brought this up yet to my docs, but I may have to. It's wierd, because even though I KNOW what it is, I still get very afraid, like a panic attack. I would not be surprized if that is what happened to you. Still, I am glad you are Ok and everything is working fine <3