I’ve been home for about a week now and it’s been a strange juxtaposition between old and new. I feel like everything changed for me while I was in the hospital, meanwhile it’s as if nothing changed at home. The girls still need the same things: food, diaper changed, bath, nap. Mackenzie still wants to eat cereal for every meal, Lexi still has a runny nose, and my husband still can’t find his watch. I find comfort in their consistency.
The biggest adjustment for our family is the PICC line. Every night my husband hooks up the TPN, which isn’t a quick process. First, he washes his hands and puts on latex gloves. He takes the TPN bag out of the refrigerator, along with my antibiotic. Using a syringe, he injects an antacid and two different vitamins into the TPN bag, and then massages it to ensure everything mixes. Next he hooks up the tubing between the pump and the TPN bag and “primes” the tubing. The TPN fills the tubing and stops when it gets to the end to ensure there is no excess air. Using an alcohol wipe, he cleans the end of my IV catheter and flushes it with a saline syringe. He cleans the catheter again and attaches the TPN tubing. Once it’s hooked up and ready, the infusion runs for 12 hours. The next morning, when the infusion is complete, my husband disconnects the tubing. He cleans the catheter and flushes it with a saline syringe. He cleans the catheter once more and then flushes it with a heparin syringe. He completes the process by clamping the catheter so nothing enters my PICC line while it’s not being used.
If it sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. And while the preparation for the TPN is inconvenient, so is being attached to it for 12 hours. We spend our evenings keeping a curious 2 1/2 year old and a grabby 8 month old away from the tubing. The TPN bag rests in a backpack that I wear around the house, but the tubing extends from the backpack to my arm. It’s very easy to trip over the tubing or for it to get caught on something. I feel like I’m walking around in a minefield.
However, for all its trouble, the TPN is doing its job. I’m getting the nutrients I need each day and I’ve gained back 5 pounds. In fact, I’ve been feeling so good that I returned to work this week, and my family is quickly returning to our normal routine. I’m back to singing “Old MacDonald”, heating up bottles, and enjoying bedtime snuggles. I wipe noses, kiss boo-boos, and beg Mackenzie to let me brush her hair. My husband and I are working as a team more than ever before since I can’t lift more than 15 pounds because of the PICC line. This experience has tested my family’s strength and resilience, and we’re closer for it.
My next step is to meet with my GI tomorrow. I’m praying for good news!