Treatment Note:
Surprise!
19 February 2019

It wasn’t on the schedule — so far as I knew. So far as I knew, it might have happened next week, which is when, according to my discharge papers (I’m sure without looking), the at-home infusions of Ceftriaxone were to  end. But they ended last night instead, without our even knowing. So, surprise, the PICC line was removed today. 

I had a call from the doctor with Infectious Diseases this morning, who told me that, as I was now infection-free — quite literally yesterday’s news, although not from her but from the dermatologist, who on a frolic and detour decided to run an independent blood test, despite having nothing to do with the treatment of my foot — the antibiotics might be stopped. Actually, this wasn’t a surprise to the people who were delivering the refrigerated antibiotics and other supplies every week, not even to the nurse (employed by them) who came by yesterday to change the dressing on my arm (where the PICC line went subcutaneous), as she has done every Monday for what seems like months, but in fact only four times, plus of course the initial visit at which she demonstrated all the necessary techniques to Kathleen. No, even she was not surprised, when she received the order to remove the PICC line only a day later.

It’s a good thing that she did come yesterday, though, because she occasioned one of Ray Soleil’s best quips ever. He was here setting up the knee-walker, and he sat at the table while the nurse did her thing. He and she turned out to be molto simpatichi, and they shared an equal (and equally mocking) incredulity when I expressed the surprise that I’d had at the hospital, when one of the residents made a point of cautioning me not to use the PICC line for any other purpose. “What would I use it for?” I asked. The resident hemmed and hawed and said that in the event of being re-admitted, it might be deemed convenient to use the line to infuse some other drug. The nurse and Ray burst out laughing. As nicely as possible — according to them — the resident had been advising me not to use the line for hard drugs. They knew all about this, Ray as well as the nurse, and they traded saucy tales about Emergency Room experiences (Ray took care of a good friend all the way through AIDS, to the very end). Besides, the nurse said, the PICC line was an “open line” that could be used not only for any antibiotic but for any medication. “So,” concluded Ray, “when it’s used for antibiotics, it’s an open line, but when it’s used for heroin, it’s a party line.”

But who under sixty remembers party lines?

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