But these lines need to be cleared, or flushed, every day. This is so blood doesn't clot and block the lines, which would render them useless. So every day each line has to have a sterile saline solution injected into it, followed by an injection of heparin. The heparin is an anti-clotting agent that flushes any particle of blood out of the line but breaks down before it hits Elle's bloodstream, so it's perfectly safe (ie she won't become a bleeder like a member of the Russian aristocracy.)
The visiting nurses, despite their name, don't actually visit every day. Care to guess who has to learn to do this?
Beth and I each took a line today while the nurse watched us. Beth did a great job. I forgot to de-clamp my line and tried for five seconds to push the saline through before I realized what had happened.
It's an intricate process. You have to:
- Wash your hands
- Wipe the cap on the end of the line clean for a minimum of 10 seconds with an alcohol wipe
- Do everything in your power not to let that cap touch anything else that occupies a point in space and time. Because if you do you have to clean it again.
- While holding the cap at its base in one hand, attempt to de-cap a syringe filled with saline solution in your other hand. Oh, and it's threaded, so good luck.
- Once you figure out how de-cap it without dropping the cap on the line, you take the syringe and screw it onto the end of the cap.
- Then you unscrew it and draw some air into the syringe to break the seal and then push a little water through the top to get rid of the air.
- Rescrew the syringe onto the cap and start to push the saline solution into the line.
- Realize that the water isn't going through because you forgot to de-clamp the line.
- Undo the clamp on the line and try to inject the saline solution again.
- Unscrew the syringe from the line because by trying to push the saline through with the clamp on, you create a vacuum that you have to break. And for God's sake, do not let that cap on the end of the line touch anything!
- Screw the saline syringe on for a third time and finally push the solution through the line.
- Look away as your daughter, who drew her own blood the other day, glares at you with thinly-veiled disgust.
- Repeat with the heparin.
On the bright side, I only have to do this 200+ more times over the next year. I have to get good at it at some point.
Elle had a good eating day today. Right now the goal is getting calories in her. So while I was able to get her to drink an Ensure shake made with ice cream and milk, she also had soup, vanilla wafers, Goldfish and french fries to go with multiple cups of juice. It's easily the most she has had to eat in two weeks. And she didn't have any nausea today.
She also sat on the couch watching her numerous Barbie DVDs (Barbie and the Magic Pegasus, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, Barbie Explains How to Sell and Buy Credit Default Swaps) and coloring with those great Crayola markers that only show up on their special paper. Her diarrhea lessened today and her fluid production was down slightly. So it was yet another good day. And that's all you can ask for right now.