Becoming less of a Borg

My friend Tanya and I used to talk back and forth about how much we liked the concept of “going borg”, getting cybernetic implants to improve our bodies, give us physical advantages.

I went a little bit Borg last month as I had a PICC installed in my arm and a intravenous pump hung from my shoulder. The PICC is essentially a plastic tube inserted into my arm that extended deep into my body, all the way into my chest. It allowed the intravenous pump to inject the antibiotics deep into my system and allowed the doctors to pull blood samples without having to dig around under my skin with needles.

Apparently I have a physiology that is well suited to Not Bleeding. Any time any of the nurses tried to set up an IV or draw blood all of my veins would retreat into my body and hide. While this is good for avoiding damage in the regular world in the medical world it meant dozens of nurses would spend hours, literally hours, digging around with needles just under the top layer of skin trying to connect with an elusive vein. It was agony and would have qualified as torture if the people hurting me weren’t trying to hard to save my life.

In all honesty I was quite relieved to get the PICC installed. It meant no more needles of any kind. But once the intravenous antibiotics were no longer necessary and the blood samples no longer required the PICC was just a direct line to my chest and a serious risk of infection. I wanted it gone.

Well I got my wish last Wednesday when the clinic finally decided the infection was definitely gone and I didn’t even need the oral antibiotics anymore. So they set about removing the PICC.

Inserting the PICC was a surgical procedure that took about half an hour. It involved the surgeon using sonic imaging tools to guide the insertion through my arm, around the shoulder, and into my chest. It was nerve wracking.

Dianne and I were joking that taking the PICC out might be considerably simpler, perhaps just a quick yank. As the nurses set up their supplies Dianne jokingly suggested it might be akin to pulling the rip chord on a hot wheels racer. The nurses didn’t comment. Instead they busied themselves with making sure they had all the supplies necessary.

The one nurse then sat down beside me and asked for my arm. She carefully removed the bandage over the PICC line and spent several seconds cleaning the area around my PICC line, making sure it was as sterile as possible. All this while the nurses were debating between each other on how long the PICC line in my arm should be expected to be. They had no information on whether it was the full 53 centimeters or if it had been cut down.

The nurse then asked me to take a deep breath in, and then instructed me to let it out slowly. As I did so she pulled the PICC line out of my arm in one smooth motion, like that of someone pulling the rip cord on a hot wheels racer.

Many seconds later Dianne realized I hadn’t resumed breathing and quickly told me to breath in again.

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