One PICC Line Closer to Home

Too emotionally drained to contemplate whether I could go home today I shifted my attention to something else entirely: the Pacific Crest Trail.

The idea came to us late last fall. Although I’ve been dreaming about thru-hiking the PCT every since I read Wild, Peter has never expressed much interest in hiking that kind of distance in one go. When I randomly came across a PCT sponsorship posted by an outfitter on Facebook I urged Peter to apply with me as a couple. Before applying, Peter asked what any rational person would ask, “What if we get it? We haven’t even decided to hike the PCT!” As always, thinking more options are better than less, I answered, “we don’t even know if we’ll get it! Why don’t we worry about that when it happens!”

As it turns out, we won the sponsorship out of hundreds of applicants and then subsequently lost it due to our incoming hiker #3. Unfortunately, most people see babies as an unnecessary burden and liability. Not only did the outfitter withdrew our sponsorship, he also had some rather stern words for us, something about wait to take our kid hiking when he can express himself. Of course, this kind of response only intensified my desire to attempt the impossible. Nothing motivates me more than being told I can’t do something. Out of all of the people in the world, I am lucky (or unlucky) to have found the only one who would go along with my craziness. After only a brief conversation about me wanting to take advantage of the six-month paid maternity leave and not knowing when the next opportunity will come, Peter came on board. “If you really want to do this, I want to do it with you.” he said.

So instead of “nesting” and preparing for our baby, we spent majority of my last trimester planning our thru-hike. Peter took up sewing to create the perfect baby carrier that is fully integrated with our hiking packs. He also kept the dehydrator at least a few days a week to make our own meals. We studied maps and came up with a rough itinerary with dates and resupply points. The morning I started labor I insisted to go into the office just so I could print out the mailing labels for the resupply boxes. Frankly, we even started this blog with the hope of documenting our MX to CA trek and other adventures.

We were finalizing our itinerary just before my hospitalization thinking we would still be able to leave for Campo later this month. This health crisis inevitably placed our plans on hold but I have not given up hope. With my laptop here and nothing else going on for the day, I carefully went over our resupply strategy one more time. A successful thru-hike can only be made possible within a limited time window. Hikers need to get out of the SoCal desert before the unbearable heat sets in but not arrive into the Sierra too early to risk unpassable snowy peaks and dangerous stream crossings. Once out of California, hikers must be on a mission to get to Washington state before early snowfall and potential blizzard conditions in high passes. Considering our new delayed start date, I ruthlessly eliminated a number of late resupply points to speed things up on the trail. The logic goes if we ever make it that far it must have mean we’ve gained speed and efficiency.

And speaking of speed, the doc came through and got me an appointment to get the PICC line today. A PICC line, or Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter, is a long tube that is inserted into a vein in an arm (peripheral) that goes into a large vein that carries blood into the heart (central). This set up will allow me to administer antibiotic IV to myself at home over an extended time period without dealing with needles and traditional IV line. Although PICC line has become a fairly routine device, the thought of getting at tube from my arm to a vein near my heart is not at all comforting. I can’t help but to feel a bit nervous as I was being wheeled down to Radiology for the procedure. Three lovely ladies there reassured me that it is going to be quick and painless. For even more sympathy points, I showed them pictures of baby Owen and told them how much I miss him. “This is one step closer to going home,” one lady responded with a motherly expression on her face. It made me feel better. Once they positioned me under the scope and pulled up good visuals on the monitor, the team of three got to work in unison. The most I felt was a couple of pinches from local anesthesia. Just like they told me, the whole thing took just a couple of minutes. My arm felt a bit numb and there is a noticeable pull under my armpit but overall it is much better than a traditional IV. With all the fluids and antibiotics they’ve been pumping into my IV, my arms and hands have been getting visibly swollen. It was so painful every time they switched to a new site. The inside of my elbows look like they’ve been through war from multiple blood tests that are performed each and every day! Thankfully there will be no more of that! Now they can directly connect me through the PICC line and also use it to draw blood.

 

I have been mentally preparing myself to not go home today so that fact that I have to spend one more night away from my baby is not quite as difficult to swallow. I expected more time is needed to schedule a home visit for the PICC line care and instructions. Still, it is uplifting to know home is not that far away now.

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