Stares at a PICC Line

I got my PICC line about 2 months ago after several hospital stays during the month of April. Due to the only very small veins in my hands and feet infiltrating and the others collapsing, the choice was made for me. I knew going in that taking care of any central line would be a tough and sometimes annoying part of having a PICC line, but I also knew I had no other options after a visit to the ER that resulted in 17 failed attempts.

Visibility

Having a PICC line can be very visible as opposed to a port that goes underneath your skin. It very noticeably hangs out of your arm and looks very “medical”. There are two lines that come out of a PICC line that can be accessed, used to draw blood and also give meds. In many instances, PICC lines can also deliver TPN into your body for nutrition.

The looks

Whether you leave your PICC line visible and hanging out of your t-shirt or you wear a sleeve over it, you’re bound to get some different looks thrown in your direction as well as some questions.

It’s not often that I leave my PICC line without a sleeve on my arm to help protect it, but there have been times where I’m having issues with the dressing and I initially had a lot of pain with the placement of my line, so there were times I had no choice but to let it air out. It’s also summer in full swing here, so there is no hiding my line under a long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt.

Surprised by looks in the hospital

I got a surprising number of stares in public the very few times I was out and about the first week or two, but the most surprising stares came during my time at the hospital. In muggle life, people see and stare because they may not necessarily know what it is for, or maybe they knew someone who had one when they went through a certain type of treatment and a little bit of fear floods their eyes. But the hospital stares? They are more inquisitive. Being surrounded by medical professionals, I believe the stares come from a good place, wondering why I have my line, what it’s used for and what disease I live with every day.

I barely even notice anymore

I thought the stares would bother me at first because physically seeing it in a mirror bothers ME. But the looks and questions don’t bother me. I look at the situation as an opportunity to educate someone else about what I’m going through, what my diagnosis requires right now, and also how it has and is currently impacting my life. I’m over two months in with my PICC line and I know that I notice certain looks thrown my way. But I’ve slowly noticed myself not even seeing others look at it anymore. It probably helps that I know where to purchase covers to make it a little more fun/vibrant or hidden to match my skin tone if I want.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (2)
  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    3 months ago

    I think it’s great that you aren’t bothered by the stares. It takes a lot for someone not to be bothered by that. And I love that you use it as an opportunity to educate; such a great way to take a not so fun situation and make it into a moment of empowerment.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • #purpleproject moderator author
    3 months ago

    It definitely took me a few months to be less aware of it.. I had complications for the first month that left me in a lot of pain & it was difficult NOT to be aware of it. Sleeping was incredibly difficult for me as well. Not the way I had remembered my first central line.

    Of course, really pretty & nonchalant covers helped me feel more at ease since I had it the entire summer.

    Best,
    Kelly 🙂

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