Monday, August 2, 2010

The Other Side by DH (organization-part 4)

Here are a couple points for making life on IVs easier.

  1. Become as independent as you can from the home health care company.  I learned to access and de-access Tiffany’s port early on.  In fact Tiffany de-access’ her port by herself often and has even accessed it by herself once -- she is pretty brave! This allows you to be on your own schedule and not theirs and also keeps bugs from other people away from your port.
  2. Organize your supplies -- see previous post -- trust me this really does help in making life easier but it also gets it out of your living space so your house doesn’t look like a hospital.
  3. Get a basket that fits on the base of your pump pole wheels.  I stock this from my organized supply and since we put it on the base of the pole, it is always there with whatever is needed.  I usually have to stock it every other day for some things and only once a week for others.  See the picture below. A longer, skinnier basket works well that sits right on top of the wheels of the pole base. In the basket we place the heprin, saline, tube caps, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer. the caps, wipes, and sanitizer we put in a little box on one end and then the syringes we put in going different directions to make it easy to keep them separate.  You will always go through more saline then heprin.
  4. Get a good pump and learn how to use it without help. We do every medication through the pump even when it is not required.  This is especially important to us when Tiffany is doing them alone.  It gives you much more control especially if you have reactions to the drugs. For example, Vanco is not a very nice drug and Tiffany cannot run it at the speed for which it is prescribed.  We have to slow it way down in order for her not to get Redman’s. No matter how many times we do IVs we have to expressly ask the home health to send the pump and to fill the meds to be used with a pump.
  5. Remember that your body needs time to recover so schedule your drugs with sleep in mind.
  6. Become friends with your nurse -- she can save you a load of trouble and help you out of a tight pinch.
  7. It is ok to let your friends and family help.  If they ask if they can help, see if they can bring over a dinner for you.  We have found that we only want about 3 dinners a week from others because of all of the left overs. Maybe they can come over and help clean your house or apartment.  Once when Tiffany was in the hospital, we had a group of friends come over and clean the entire house and sanitize everything -- they probably worked for four hours and there were around five of them.  It was great to bring Tiffany home to a clean and sterile environment. (thanks guys)
  8. Soft blankets are wonderful -- our best are homemade fleece blankets -- you can email Tiffany for instructions on how to make them.
  9. Put a towel below the IV pole and on the arm of the recliner (or whatever comfortable chair you sit in) to protect them from drips and such. Some of the drugs do stain carpet.
  10. One I haven’t done yet but plan to do next time, with a small wire or ribbon, tie your little basket to the pole.  Inevitably either my dog or my foot will knock the basket over a couple times in a week.
  11. Combine other treatments with IVs such as do your breathings and CPT while you are hooked up.
  12. Showers with picc lines and ports are interesting.  For picc lines -- cut both ends of a ziplock back off  so as to make a sleeve of the plastic that can go over your arm where most piccs are inserted.  Cover the the bandaging with a washcloth with the bag on top and then tape off both ends. Unfortunately, we have not found a tape that works good every time and we have tried them all from waterproof to basic tape.  We now just use the one inch wide tape that comes from home-health. For a port, use the heavy plastic bags that your supplies are delivered in or a zip lock bag and cut it just a little bit larger than the bandage over your port and needle.  Cut a wash cloth to the size of your bandage and place it on the bandage and then the plastic can be taped on. Do the top first and then the bottom and then the sides.  For some reason, the tape seems to stick better if you stretch it tight as you put it on.  When you get out of the shower have a paper towel ready as water will always get through the tape but hopefully the washcloth will soak most of it up.  Tear off the tape (every way we found still hurts) and then dry off the dressing with the paper towel.
  13. We normally have one of those big shower heads that feels like you are standing under a waterfall but we change out the shower head while Tiffany is on IVs for one those shower heads that is on a hose.  We then place it lower for Tiffany so that the water does hit her head but below the port and then she can wash her hair with the shower head because of the extended hose. The five minutes to change out the shower head is worth it!
  14. Keep a trash can handy with good plastic bags. You will have lots of trash and plenty of liquids from tubing and left over drugs in bags. You don’t want that leaking out all over. We used to use grocery bags but too many of them had holes and we would get stuff all over.



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