Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Prior to undergoing treatment for my chronic illnesses, I had never heard of a peripherally inserted central catheter, more commonly known as a “PICC” line. A PICC line is a medical device that delivers medication, fluids and other intravenous solutions through a large vein near the heart- quickly and efficiently. Over 1,000,000 PICC lines are placed in the United States each year, making them more common than one would think.
Life with a PICC line can seem challenging, but can be much improved by learning some tips and tricks to make your life easier. Below, I chronicled the top tips that have made my life with a medical device much easier:
1. Utilize a PICC line sleeve:
At times it can seem like there is no perfect solution to having a swinging tube attached to your arm. The last event you want to experience is getting your tube caught on something, damaging your tube or accidentally having a brush with an unsanitary surface. It took me a few weeks, but I came across PICC line sleeves- they are comfortable against the skin and keep your PICC line site and line protected during your day to day life. A reusable sleeve is less bulky than the thick, white stockings they give you at the hospital. Personally, I love the brand Mighty Well for regular wear.
2. Shower sleeves will improve your shower routine:
After getting my PICC line placed, I quickly realized that I had taken being able to easily hop in the shower for granted my whole life. Showering became a marathon event, having to wrap my arm in saran wrap pre-shower. I stumbled upon throw-away shower sleeves online that have made my shower routine 10X more efficient. First, I put a PICC line sleeve on. Next, I pop a shower sleeve over the line- and poof! I had mobility in my arm back to wash my hair, and felt safe and secure against possible contamination from water. I order these from Amazon.
3. Don't be afraid to try different dressings:
I have always had very sensitive skin. I cannot use skincare products and hair care products that contain chemicals or scents. Band-aids leave a bright red, itchy splotch where applied for days. The thought never crossed my mind that I would react to a PICC line dressing- until it happened. Thankfully, I discussed this with my nurse and she recommended trying a different dressing- which I did not know was an option! From that point forward, I have used the IV3000 dressing, and have had no issues. If you have sensitive skin or experience discomfort at the PICC line site- do not be afraid to seek medical help. There might be a solution!
4. You may need to size up in tops:
Having a medical device popping out of your upper arm can make wearing long, tightly fitted sleeves difficult. This is normal! Don’t feel bad about having to size up in tops to make room for your new “accessory.” In my world- comfort is key.
5. Give yourself time to process:
When I found out I would need a PICC line, my first emotion was sadness and shock. Was I really sick enough to need this medical device? I allowed myself to process my feelings, and eventually flipped the narrative in my head to recognize that having a PICC line would give me the ability to heal faster.
Now, I have an appreciation for my PICC line and all that it does for me.
*The Case Integrative Health blog does not give medical advice. If you are interested in making an appointment at Case Integrative Health, please contact the office at (773)-675-1400.
Image courtesy of Mighty Well.