Fight of Faith: Out comes the port, in comes the PICC!

The choice for surgery was to put me to sleep and take it out or be wide awake and apply local anesthesia to the site. Option one would not work. I had already eaten. I had no problem being wide awake. Transport comes over to wheel me to outpatient surgery. I am all wrapped up in 2 warm blankets. Bankole follows along. The surgery is less than 15 minutes. Throughout the process, all I am saying is “Thank you Jesus” and taking deep breaths.

I am taking peeks as the doctor scalpels his way through my upper chest wall. Lo and behold, puss is draining from the port site; oozy, gooey puss. It was no longer hypothetical; the port site is infected.

Doctor takes the port out, cleans the site, stitches it and he is done. The tip of the port will be taken to the lab for further tests. I saw the tip of the port. That tip did not look clean at all. It was dark. It looked like a dirty clogged pipe. I am just glad it is out. I am transported back to my room to go rest. Friends and well-wishers are coming in to visit. Sisters from church are bringing food, especially amala. There were only 2 foods I could tolerate throughout my hospital stay: moin-moin and pap, amala with ewedu or bitter leaf soup. Long live amala!

When an Ijesa girl starts eating Ibadan food twice a day every day, you know something is up. Dara made so much amala for me till she could make no more. That was the only meal that my belly could tolerate. Ewedu (jute leaves) had the much needed chlorophyll. Amala was fermented yam flour. What else could go wrong? The combo was king and queen. All the food groups if you ask me 🙂

As my body grew weaker from the port complications, my veins began to collapse as well. My veins are naturally small.  You could only draw blood from one vein in my left arm. The nurses had to pass IV fluids on  a vein on my hand. It was quite painful; by March 30th, my left hand was swollen. From that evening onward, it was impossible for anyone to draw blood. My veins were no longer cooperating. I had no port, I had no veins. I was tired.

The morning of 31st, no blood had been collected for further testing. Yet I had been poked many times over. It was not a pretty scene. The doctor on duty comes in and prescribes a PICC line. This will be inserted through a vein in my hand, guided by ultrasound to end in the superior vena cava. This procedure would be done right there in my hospital room. By the time the ladies performing the procedure explained the side effects and infection implication, I was distraught and I started crying…again.  Yes, crying was my way of letting out heaviness and surrendering to God. Those liquid petitions are my way of telling God that I am helpless. After all; King David cried. He even wrote a psalm about it.

“Hear my cry o Lord

Attend to my prayer

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I”

I am allowed to cry; not whine and complain. Bankole had gone home to change so he missed the procedure. Before they started, I told them I needed to pray. The scene brought back the time I was alone in the room on the biopsy table with no one to hold my hand. It was me and the Holy Spirit again, as usual, during dire situations. Oh how I love Him.

“Father, I commit this procedure into your hand. Let your presence fill this room. Sanitize and sterilize these ladies and the equipment, guide their hands throughout the procedure in Jesus mighty name. Amen”

They also agreed with me and said amen. That was comforting. They found a good vein in my right arm and the insertion was seamless. They first measured the distance from the insertion site to my chest to get an accurate measure to the vena cava. I was breathing in and out, not looking at all. I could not look anyway. They were done in no time. Finally blood could be drawn for labs. The only caveat was no massages, no heavy lifting, and no unnecessary pressure that would yank the PICC line out. It had to be flushed every day to avoid clotting.

I am still in the hospital on the 1st, the port site is healing very well. The pain had reduced tremendously. A doctor from Infectious Disease Control comes to pay me a visit. Dr. Wildes introduces herself and finally gives the bacteria found in the port site a name: methylene resistance staph aureus; MRSA for short. I jumped out of bed.