Sunday, February 24, 2013

Never Get A PICC From A Resident

With this flu I decided to get a PICC line since I knew my lungs would not be able to handle this extreme sickness without some help. The PICC has turned into a disaster all its own, but that is for a future post. A few PICC lines ago the PICC nurses gave up on me. My veins are shot and are impossible to work with. I became radiology's problem territory. This was actually a nice change. Instead of spending an insane amount of time fishing in my veins, puncturing my arm a dozen times and leaving me black and blue, radiology would use their fancy machines and the PICC would be placed on the first attempt every time. Except this time because this time I had a resident place my PICC.

Here is what took place during ym PICC placement. I was also feeling like crap, feverish, sleepy, and didn't have much of a voice left.

I am all prepped and ready to go when this very young woman comes in and explains she is a resident and will be helping with my PICC placement. I am cool with a helper...

"I am going to ultrasound your arm now."
"Okay." Where the heck is the real radiologist
A substantial amount of time passes. The real radiologist comes in.
"Dr, I found 3 veins, which one do I use?"
What the heck? You don't know? Shouldn't you at least say, I found one I think would be perfect can you double check? But instead you make it clear you have no idea which to use!!
"Did you try compressing them?"
She quickly starts compressing my veins. They exchange a few words and I am just praying that she lets the real radiologist do his job. The radiologist leaves and I am alone with the resident. Or maybe he was across the room...I was strapped to a bed so it was hard to tell, but all I know is he was nowhere near me.
"Okay, I am going to numb your arm now."
Holy crap! Holy crap! This lady is going to do my PICC?? How do I tell her to get the hell away from me without offending her.
"Soooo, how many PICCS have you placed?"
"Uhhh, several."
Wait just one minute! First off, why the hesitation??? Second, the way you said several I would assume you meant more than a few. I am now assuming this is your 3rd or 4th PICC placement. I am actually more nervous now than before you opened your mouth!
"Um, I would feel much more comfortable with the overseeing radiologist doing my PICC." You can request things like that, right? Well, I am going to try.
"Yeah, well I haven't even put the needle in your arm yet!" I am not an idiot, I know you haven't done anything yet...this isn't my first PICC and I know what a needle feels like.
"I understand that, but I am requesting the radiologist put my PICC in."
"You can't. He will put it in if I fail." If you fail? This is getting worse and worse.
"I am sure you are capable, but I..." crap what do I say to not offend her...."am nervous" that you don't know what the hell you are doing!!!
"You need to try your hardest not to be nervous because the more nervous patients are the more nervous the doctors are."
Are you kidding me!? Did you just admit to being nervous!? And I think most people would be nervous when getting a PICC by someone who doesn't even know what vein to use!
I decided to relax and let her try. I was numb after all and I realized she is not going to give in and I was completely alone so it wasn't like someone could save me.
I can feel her accessing a vein (not painful)....
A looooong time elapses.
"Can you keep me informed on what is going on?" I like being in the know because it helps keep me calm.
Much more time elapses.
"Did you get the PICC threaded?" I am sure I was annoying the crap out of her, but it had been a very very long time and even though I rarely get nervous for PICCs anymore it had been so long I was starting to get worried.
"No, I am ultrasounding your arm again."
"Oh. Okay, can you let me know what is going on. It helps me feel less nervous."
Silence. In fact, she never spoke to me again.
The radiologist comes in and says, "How is it going?"
"The vein I attempted wasn't any good."
He then stands there and walks her through step by step. She has stuck the needle in, but is having a lot of trouble. The radiologist finally yells for someone to get him a gown.
Thank God this lady is getting away from me!!!
She screams, "I GOT BLOOD!!!!!!
Is that good or bad?? Am I going to die!??
"I am in, I am in!!!"
Okay, I guess it is a good thing.
The radiologist then walks her through the entire process and often has to intervene because she wasn't doing it right. Finally, he looks at me and says, "You can relax! We are done!"
I think I wanna throw up I am so happy.
One of the nurses comes over and looks at my PICC and says to the resident, "Did you do that yourself? Great job!"
"Well, not really, I had help." That was an understatement.

Well, I lived and she didn't puncture my heart or forget to wear gloves or sneeze on my line so I guess all is well, but next time I sure hope that they send the resident to someone else's room. Or at least I hope that my next resident pretends to know what they are doing, or has a personality, or actually knows which vein to access.


  1. Oh I would have had a few choice words to say to everybody involved in that scenario... "You can't. He will put it in if I fail"???? Um. . . you are one brave lady!! Stories like these make me so happy I get to be loopy on versed when I get mine done.

    I'm glad that your picc is finally placed and I hope it holds up well. Now, if only they could figure out which tape won't cause you blisters you'd be all set.

    I hope you start feeling better soon.

    1. I think being intensely sick and having had lost my voice was the only reason I didn't fight back. I am pretty sure I would have said okay if they told me they were going to preform a lobotomy at that point! I felt so horrible that I had no fight in me at all!

      Oh the tape...that will be the death of me!!

  2. Oh my word - PLEASE TELL ME you reported this to the hospital, or that you will. If you request for the resident not to do it, they should immediately get the regular radiologist and have them do that. That is not okay! I would have been so angry in that situation, too. Good grief! Our delicate CF veins are not to be messed with... I mean, for many of us at this age, they're mostly all shot anyway - we can't afford to have somebody creating more scar tissue! Good luck - I hope that it holds up ok from here on out.

    1. When I left I realized she placed the PICC really really high which pissed me off! Everyone knows that with CFers you start low! My CF nurse is pressuring me to get a port so I may be done with PICCs after this anyway.

    2. Get a port, get a port!!! Seriously - hands-down the best medical decision I have ever made. Even if you don't need IVs that often, it is such a huge deal when you do! It makes it SO MUCH EASIER. But seriously, I would definitely call or write to the hospital and report that resident... that is so out of line!

  3. I am beyond angry reading this post. The resident should have walked away the SECOND you requested the radiologist to do it. Ugh, how terrible for your. I would have probably been crying lol. I'm glad this traumatizing experience is over for you, and I'm guessing you will never let a resident near you again when doing a PICC. I just feel so bad for you!

    1. I was pretty pissed and if she had a personality or was nice about it I wouldn't have minded. I don't mind having a resident work on me, but seriously if you are rude and make it clear you are clueless that is just not cool!

  4. I am so glad that I am not the only one who has terrible PICC placements, unfortunately my last one resulted in a blood clot and I can no longer have PICCs. I am not sure who I am more mad at my veins or the radiologist who botched the job.

    Are you starting to feel back to yourself?

    1. I am so sorry you have horrible PICC experiences too. How awful to get a blood clot! I am getting lots of pressure from my clinic to get a port so I may be done with PICCs soon as well.

      I feel like the flu is gone which is such a relief and now I can actually function. Unfortunately, my lungs feel like crap, but hopefully this sucky PICC will fix that.

  5. My goodness that sounds terrifying!! I'm glad you made it out of their alive & with a picc line placed. Have you ever thought of getting a port?