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Another Year Another Blood Transfusion

Posted May 27 2010 8:50pm
About three weeks ago, after Muddear's respite stay at Brookwood Retirement Community, it was time for a doctor's appointment. Thank goodness! I was worried that she was coming down with another upper respiratory infection - Muddear had been complaining of a severe sore throat and coughing.

We utilize visiting physicians - what a blessing to have doctor's come to your home instead of the cumbersome job of transporting a wheelchair bound person from home to doctor and back again. The doctor - Dr. Amin - ordered chest x-rays, which thankfully came back negative. Additionally, I requested blood work, because it had been a few months since Muddear had blood tests. This is critical due to the sheer number of medications she has been prescribed. Surprisingly, Muddear's hemoglobin levels came back extremely low. As you know, Muddear is normally anemic, nevertheless I was quite surprised when the doctor advised that I should take Muddear to the hospital for a possible blood transfusion. Surprised, but not alarmed - we went through this same "exercise" in March of 2009.

Typically, we take Muddear to Mercy Hospital - this time was no different. Let me take a moment to say kudos to Mercy's new ER check-in process. Within 30 minutes Muddear had a room and had been seen by an aide, her nurse, and the doctor! Never before have I received such speedy and attentive service in the emergency room. Kind of like an episode from Gray's Anatomy!

So fast forwarding this account...

Muddear did in fact receive a blood transfusion. For those of you with small veins, be advised that if a small IV needle is used for your IV it is not large enough to accommodate a blood transfusion. A PICC Line (pictured in the beginning of the post), by definition and per its acronym, a peripherally inserted central catheter. It is long, slender, small, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, typically in the upper arm, and advanced until the catheter tip terminates in a large vein in the chest near the heart to obtain intravenous access. It is similar to other central lines as it terminates into a large vessel near the heart. However, unlike other central lines, its point of entry is from the periphery of the body the extremities. And typicallythe upper arm is the area of choice. (This information was pulled from the website, PICC Line Nursing:

Once inserted an x-ray must be conducted to confirm accurate placement - see picture to the right. I was once again surprised - this time to discover from the x-rays - that Muddear now had pneumonia. That is, however, a story for another day. With the PICC Line in position, Muddear was ready to receive her two units of blood. The procedure went incredibly well and Muddear was subsequently treated for pneumonia and later discharged, but not without some drama. That will be the subject of another post.

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