One of those cancer survivor bloggers today wrote about her PICC line dressing change. When I read those words, I took an involuntary sharp breath. It wasn't that long ago that I was worried about PICC line dressing changes for Steve. And yet I hadn't thought about them in months.
The PICC line was the tubing inserted in a vein in Steve's arm with direct access to a larger vein in his chest. It was how he received IV chemotherapy and fluids and antibiotics and all those drugs that helped sustain his life in 2009.
I never changed the dressing (the materials on his skin that kept the line secure), but I observed often enough (with sharp eyes, watching for possible contamination) that I could have changed it if necessary. I knew that his was a single lumen, not double, which puzzled more than one nurse. I kept track of when the bio patch had been changed, and I checked for signs of infection, and I covered -- and later uncovered -- the dressing every single time Steve took a shower or bath.
All of that came rushing back just by reading the words "PICC line dressing change."
I miss everything about Steve -- our life before brain cancer and our life during brain cancer. I grieve the years we had together before we had ever heard of the word "PICC" and all the other cancer-related vocabulary. I grieve the months we had together after, when we were forced to make room for the kind of medical knowledge no one wants to know so personally.
I miss the years when we would end our busy day and walk upstairs to the TV room to catch up on shows and visit and cuddle. I miss the months when he was too weak or unstable to walk upstairs at all. I miss able-bodied Steve, who always drove on long car trips and made me coffee and wrestled with Cooper in the middle of the family room. And I miss the Steve who stopped driving in December 2007 and couldn't reach the coffee pot because of his wheelchair and who couldn't wrestle but never held back a hug.
This afternoon Katie told me, "When Daddy was alive and not sick, he worked and did lots of nice things for you, Mommy." She is so right.
Then I told her what is so remarkable about her Daddy is that even when he was sick, he was still very much alive and still worked and still did lots of nice things for me and many others.
Katie and Steve at her 2nd birthday party, June 2007 (recently rediscovered photo from Melissa)