Pain in the neck

So after my last blog there was some confusion over my graft and where it was.

Although the wound is in my armpit that was just the incision used to insert the graft. My graft is situated in my bicep. It feels hard to the touch and when I flex my arm it looks like I’ve got the prefect bicep muscle.

 The graft is a tube inserted into the arm that joins the artery to a vein, it does the same job as a fistula but as this failed a few times in my arm a graft was the only option left.  The graft allows for a higher pump speed on the dialysis machine (higher than the neckline)  The higher the pump speed the better ‘clearance’ you get which means the dialysis is better.  As it happens little did I know it would be used this week…

On Wednesday I had been on the machine for 10 minutes when it was constantly beeping and wouldn’t stop. I’ve had this problem in the past and the machine clots off and stops working.

We tried moving me up and down, head back, head forward, to the sides but nothing was working.  I was ‘washed back’ where the blood is washed through the machine back into my body (which happens at the end of every session) and taken off the machine to be given a chest x ray to check the position of the catheter as there was a worry it had moved.

After lots of waiting around for porters, the X-ray and then the results it was decided it had moved (or had never been in the right position in the first place) it was too high up.

The neckline could not be used from now on.  I panicked and thought they may take it out and put a new one in or manipulate it into the right position (which they would usually do) but they rang the surgeon who performed the graft on my arm and he agreed that it would be ok to needle.

I wasn’t mentally prepared for it, but had no choice. At least I didn’t have time to be nervous and in fact there wasn’t that much to be nervous about.  One of the nurses was surprised I wasn’t going to have a local anesthetic, but what is the point in being stabbed to be stabbed.  Anyway no sooner had it been mentioned than the needle was in without a problem.  I will be having one for a few sessions (with two prongs coming off it) then will go to two needles which will give me better dialysis.

 So with the needle successfully in, talk turned to getting my neckline out! It was decided that I would have it out on Friday.  Now this I was dreading as my last one was a nightmare to get out and hurt a lot. But no pain, no gain and the thought of a proper bath and shower kept me going.   At the end of Wednesday’s session I went ‘hypo’ where my blood pressure dropped (the reading was 70/30 if you are interested) and I almost passed out.  Thankfully I was given some fluid and I came back round, the nurses thought it was the result of coming on and off and a stressful morning.  I slept for the rest of the day and could still feel the after effects on Thursday.

I turned up on Friday morning.  The needling again didn’t go to badly.  I wasn’t allowed the anti-clotting drug on the machine as I was getting my neckline out and they were worried it may bleed afterwards.

Halfway into the session (2hours) it was bleeping constantly and then it clotted off again, this time they wouldn’t wash me back which meant I lost all the blood in the machine. I lost a pint of blood, which doesn’t sound a lot but when my red blood cells are low it’s can make a massive difference.

They had to re-line and prime/clean the machine and re-attach me 15 minutes later, luckily the needle could be saved so they didn’t have to stab me.  They used a different kidney on the machine so that I could still have the neckline out but it would not clot off again.

After dialysis I went over to the treatment room to have my neckline out.  The plan was with a bit of pressure and pulling that it would just slide out but in typical Holly style nothing goes to plan.  I had to have an incision and a lot of digging around ‘the cuff’ of the neckline to cut away tissue from the tube. It took a lot of routing and around 40 minutes for it to finally be out! I’ve got two stitches that can be removed in about a week.

Normal baths and showers are only around the corner….


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