Making a Decision
After getting information about your options, talk with the doctor about the merits of each type of catheter and ask for his opinion. Talk about the pros and cons with your child if he or she is old enough. Then make the rounds on the oncology unit, asking both parents and children which type of catheter they chose and why. You will probably hear many opinions about the benefits and drawbacks of each type of catheter.
The nurses in the clinic and on the unit are another source of valuable information. They will have seen dozens (or hundreds) of children with catheters, and they can give excellent advice. There is no right or wrong choice, just different options for each unique child.
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My 4-year-old daughter Christine loved ballet and was extremely interested in her appearance. Her younger sister was very physical, and we were worried that if we chose the Hickman® her toddler sister would grab and pull on the tubing. We chose the PORT-A-CATH® so that Christine could wear her tutus without reminders of cancer, and so the children could play together without mishap.
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We chose the Hickman® for Sam because we didn’t want any needles coming at him. He spent almost the whole first year in the hospital, so it saved him from so many pokes. The line was a blessing. He went 3 years and 3 months with no infections. We thought it was just a beautiful thing.
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We didn’t get a choice when my daughter needed a stem cell transplant. They needed to put in two Broviac® lines to accommodate all of the meds, fluids, and TPN [total parenteral nutrition] she needed for the procedure. I remember seeing six bags hanging up at once. I did the dressing changes, and we didn’t have any trouble with the lines throughout her recuperation.
© 2016 Nancy Keene
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For much more information about external catheters, read Chapter 9 in Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors: A Guide for Families Friends and Caregivers, 2nd ed. by Tania Shiminski-Maher, Catherine Woodman, and Nancy Keene