A Heart-Transplant Patient’s Life-Changing Call
The day was September 26, 2011. My family and I had been staying at the Ronald McDonald House for the past 2 months after I had gotten sick again. I had to be on a frequent intravenous drip of a medication called Milrinone through a PICC line located in my left upper arm, and I carried a small fanny pack with the pump with me at all times. When you have a PICC line in your arm it sucks because you can’t shower properly, you really have to be careful how you do things around your arm (keeping the area dry and clean), and you have to be careful how you sleep.
You may be asking, what is a PICC line? A PICC line (Peripherally inserted central catheter) is a IV-like tube that goes into your upper arm. Unlike an IV, a PICC line travels through the vein over your heart. Another thing about getting a PICC line is that they hurt a lot to put in because doctors have to make a small incision in your arm before they can insert it. It’s also really easy for a PICC ine to get infected, so you have to get the sterile dressings changed weekly. You also have to flush them thoroughly with saline so the lines does not get clogged, and make sure the pump is charged every night.
That night after getting out of the hospital, I tossed and turned in my sleep and ended up accidentally pulling my PICC line out of my arm. My mother and I freaked out that morning when we saw what happened, and immediately drove to the emergency room a few blocks away from us. Thankfully, the line didn’t come all the way out so they didn’t have to remove it completely. But the doctors in the emergency room didn’t know if they would need to put a new one in yet. They sent us back home after spending the whole morning there and they said they would call us back to let us know if I would need a new one so, we went home and waited.
Now, the Ronald McDonald House has many fun activities and recreational rooms to visit when you’re bored, want to relax, or just wanna simply pass time. One of the recreational rooms I enjoyed was the TV lounge. There’s two on each floor of the house and inside of them is a huge flat screen with huge, comfy couches and armchairs. There’s also tables and chairs if you want to play any board games or anything. You can even bring your gaming system in and hook it up to the TV to play video games — that’s what I liked to do.
After our long morning in the hospital I was playing video games so I wouldn’t get too stressed about the PICC line, while my mother was in the other TV lounge with my little sister, doing her hair. My mother used to be pretty bad at listening for her phone, so her friends would call my phone to reach her. In the middle of my game I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize and I figured it was one of my mother’s friends, so naturally, being a kid, my first thought was to ignore it, because they could just call my mother’s phone and eventually she would answer.
But deciding to be a good kid I got up and took it to her. I remember running down the hall to take her the still-ringing phone and telling her it’s for her, and sitting with her after giving it to her. I couldn’t hear what the person was saying, but I saw the look on her face change. My first thought I had was crap I’m going to have to get another PICC and this is gonna suck.
I’ll never forget the sound of her scream as they told her they had found a heart for me after being on the list for only two months.