June 12, 2008


I had my PICC Line surgery today. Fortunately I was able to get it done here in Canada as I found away to bypass the traditional Infectious Disease route. Of course, given that my surgery was being done by less than traditional avenues, I was hoping to fly under the radar, so to speak...as in get in and get out before anyone asks too many questions.

The nurse who booked my appointment for me was aware that I have LD but I was hoping that that information would not go further than her. Not because I was trying to be sneaky but more out of the need for self-preservation. I have been subjected to so much abuse by the medical system that I wanted to avoid any opportunity to raise undo questions or deal with skeptical scrutiny. Of course, given the fact that my surgery was being done by less than traditional avenues, I was certainly hoping to get in and get out before anyone asked too many questions.
You know, fly under the radar, so to speak.

However fly under the radar, I did not. By the time it was over, 3 surgeons had been called in, 1 resident and 8 nurses had attended.
And a procedure that normally takes 20-30 minutes had taken 2.5 hours, and Lyme Disease was the topic of discussion for the ENTIRE 2.5 hours.
Nothing like flying under the radar...NOT!

While Surgeon #1 was prepping me for surgery, one of the nurses was chatting with me. Then all of a sudden, she says, "Are you the girl from the US who has Lyme disease?” My heart started pounding and I nervously responded, “Ah no, I’m not from the States."

“But you have Lyme disease, don’t you.” she queried. Sounding to me as though she was questioning me with a megaphone

“Yes." I tentatively whispered.

Surgeon #1 stopped his preparations and said, “What? You have Lyme disease?”

I was so tense by this point that I half expected my head to blow off. Yes." I quietly, almost apologetically admitted. "I do."

Then the unexpected happened, he grabbed my hand and empathetically said, “Oh, no that’s a terrible disease! I just recently saw news coverage about it, and how these folks had to fly to California to get treatment.”

“Ah, yeah, I was one of those folks on that flight.” I admit.

By now he’s patting my hand and says “Oh my gosh, you’re that girl who's dad hired the jet?”

"No, I’m not her but I was one of the other passengers on that flight.”

By this time, the OR was buzzing with questions about LD and the whole nine yards.

At this point, Surgeon #1 who had been working on my arm for about 30 minutes already says my veins have collapsed and they need to call in Surgeon #2. Surgeon #2 enters amidst the round table discussion that is going on about me and LD. Upon hearing this, he asks, “Lyme disease. Who has Lyme disease?”

“I do.” I confess…once again apprehensive as to what his reaction may be to my confession. Much to my amazement he has the same response surgeon #1 has. He's wholly emphathetic, is even somewhat knowledgeable about the controversy of it and surprisingly acknowledges how terrible that it is.

So, the LD discussions continue as Surgeon #2 takes a crack at my arm. Another 45 minutes passes and 3 more nurses are called in to assist. Before long, Surgeon #2 is suggesting they call in Surgeon #3. By the time Surgeon #3 enters the OR, there are 6 nurses attending, I have a resident standing on a stool behind my head, torquing on my tourniquet, my arm has gone completely numb, I've had numerous needles, 3 incisisons have been made in my arm and there have been 8 failed attempts to insert my PICC line.

And they are all still wanting to talk about LD. Of course, Surgeon #3 jumps into the hoopla and as he is directing Surgeon #2, he wants to know "What's with all the talk about LD?" At this point, I was so frazzled by the fact that they were butchering my arm, that in exasperation I said "I have LD alright?" and then nearly yelled, "Enough with the talk could you just get my PICC in and send me on my merry way."

Suffice to say, the whole surgical unit at my local hospital got a crash course on LD today. Too bad it came at the expense of my arm and my arteries.

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