Adjusting to Life with a PICC Line

You may be wondering what you might have to do differently when you have a PICC line but the good thing is you can still do most things with ease. A PICC line should not hinder you from the normal activities you enjoy. It takes a lot of getting used to, but it is worth it!

There are some things you do need to be careful around, like any activities that involve arm movement. This is because there is great risk your PICC line can be dislocated. You should also avoid any sort of contact sport like football. 

This includes:

  • Any heavy lifting over 5 to 10 pounds must be avoided
  • Do not carry heavy backpacks or bags
  • You can have a bath or shower as normal but you must keep your line dry
  • A waterproof cast cover will be given to you by your doctor
  • Keep away from sharp objects

Having a PICC line means it will have to be cleaned every week to lower the risk of any infections. This is done by removing the plaster and using a wipe to clean around the tube.

After this they will flush out the tube to make sure the inside isn't clogged. A PICC line must be flushed every seven days when it is not being used. This can be a very odd feeling. For me it felt like cold water running through my veins. It may not feel nice but it doesn't take long!

Blood samples can also be taken through the PICC line and reduces the need for multiple needle punctures in the arm. The line can remain in place for 6 - 8 months, meaning you can have it throughout treatment. Limiting any stress or pain from needles.

Everyday you should check your exit site for:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Leakage
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, call your doctor. You might have an infection.

Don’t have any of the following on the arm where your PICC line is placed:

  • Needle sticks (such as for blood draws or an IV line)
  • Blood pressure measurements
  • Tight clothing or tourniquets