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Trifusion Catheter: Twilight Anesthesia Weirdness, “Ow,” and Some Practical Consideratio

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Instead of a port, my oncologist decided to install a trifusion catheter in my chest. In addition to being a long-term catheter which can be used to draw blood and administer IV fluids and chemotherapy meds, it can also be used to harvest stem cells for my transplant procedure. It’s got three lumens (external tubing lines) of a couple inches in length which extend from the single catheter tube–which is a three-in-one configuration–tunneled under my skin.

The installation procedure yesterday was a minor in-patient surgery that took about 20 minutes in the operating room. (The prep and post took significantly longer, of course.) They gave me local anesthesia as well as twilight for it.

I’ve been twilighted once before, but it essentially knocked me out that time, and I don’t remember anything about that particular procedure. I do remember waking up and asking the time and being perplexed as to why Matthew found this so amusing. Apparently, I’d come around several times before, asked the time, and fallen back asleep–without remembering any of the previous wake-ups. I did, however, have complete awareness of having been rendered unconscious.

For the trifusion catheter installation, I remember the nurse telling me they were starting the anesthesia, staring at the IV tree, hearing the doctor saying he was injecting the local, feeling the needle prick and the burn of the lidocaine, staring at the IV tree, and then the doctor saying they were all done. Thing is, I don’t remember falling asleep at all. I even thought to myself, as they moved me to the recovery room, “Dang, I was awake the whole time. I was hoping the twilight was going to knock me out like last time so I could get some sleep…”

It only occurred to me on the drive home that I couldn’t recall huge chunks of the procedure–like when the doctor inserted the catheter, when they applied the dressing over it, and when they removed the sterile sheeting. But I could swear I never lost consciousness at any time.

Twilight anesthesia is weird.

Unsurprisingly, the catheter site aches. It’s on the right side of my chest, which makes it a somewhat ginger proposition to use my right arm. Getting dressed, ow. Reaching to close the car door, ow. Shoulder seat belt, ow. They say the pain is supposed to go away in a day or two.

On an awkward/amusing note, before the surgery, I asked the doctor whether I could still wear a bra with the catheter, and he assured me that the line didn’t go into the breast, so it wasn’t a problem. I don’t think he grasped the concept of “bra strap,” as while the installation site is under my collarbone, nowhere near my breast, the dressing and site of entry are exactly where a normal bra strap needs to go. I had to switch to a one-arm/off-the-shoulder bra configuration this morning. (Matthew has since informed me that most men, including himself, find the operation of a bra a mystery, and chances are the doctor indeed did not understand the complex and baffling mechanics of your basic bra strap. o.O )

I’m also finding my wardrobe options to be a bit vexing, as I’ve never shopped for shirts, sweaters, or dresses with the consideration of: “How cute will this be with three lines of tubing sticking out of my chest?”

Originally published at EugieFoster.com. You can comment here or there.

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On May 3rd, 2014 03:56 am (UTC), lovelylotus commented:
My father had a procedure on his knee and experienced the same thing. He remembers nothing. Like time slipped. They told him the doctor would be in a minute and the next thing he knew they were telling him he could get up when he felt ready but to be careful. He swears they didn't do anything but here was a bandage on his knee.

Best wishes to you. We are all here in your cheering section. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help.
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On May 3rd, 2014 03:57 am (UTC), elialshadowpine commented:
I had to chuckle at the doctor not understanding the bra strap; unfortunately, Matthew is probably right. It has been somewhat boggling to me to see how many doctors don't even get the concept, when you'd think it would be relevant information. Sigh.
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On May 3rd, 2014 04:41 am (UTC), threeoutside commented:
Twilight - any anaesthaesia, really, IS weird. And it can last for a bizarrely long time, and weirdness can return at random times for long afterward. I often wonder what we're really doing to our brains with it, but man oh man, is it wonderful we've got it! I'm glad the procedure was relatively low-pain and I hope the soreness goes away soon, and you adapt to the ports easily. *hugs*
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