Given my lovely wife Rosemary’s fabric art hobby, you might be forgiven for thinking that title refers to some kind of furious argument. While I won’t pretend we haven’t had disagreements (mostly about living in Fabric Mountain) we don’t really go in for the nasty kind (or at least, not very often).

No, this is all about my PICC line – or, rather, the absence thereof since this morning…

When I was having chemo infusions every couple of weeks (and, always, a blood test beforehand) the PICC line was a genuine asset. (Once I got over the interesting experience of having one fitted…) It meant, for example, that I rarely needed a canula, which in my case frequently involves an extended period of minor torture while some poor nurse searches vainly for a visible vein. (Mine are scared of canulas and like to hide…)

Blood tests and infusions alike could be taken and given through the PICC line. And once Rosemary and I had got over our initial jitters, we could do most of the work of looking after the line, at home, saving us time and fuel on hospital visits and (hopefully) freeing up the limited time available to my team.

But my next round of chemo (after I’ve taken a welcome break from ingesting poisons into my system) uses tablets rather than infusions. So the PICC line is now (mostly) redundant. And – while it’s undoubtedly convenient – the fact that it provides a clear path for potential infection from my arm directly to a major artery above my heart is… well, let’s just say it’s thought-provoking. (Not that that has ever happened to me. Rosemary has taken excellent care of keeping it clean and clear.)

So today’s visit to the chemo van was to take out the line. And I was greeted by my lovely friend Kerry, who responded with her usual care and concern to the negative results of my chemo, got me relaxed and comfortable, and then told me – as kindly as possible, that this was going to hurt…

Surprisingly, perhaps, the line itself came out easily and with almost no discomfort at all. The tricky bit was the orange triangular piece lying against my arm. Because what hadn’t been obvious to me at all was that it was held in with a couple of bits of wire looking a little like right-angled fish-hooks. And that new tissue had effectively grown around them, anchoring them securely in place…

Solution? Cut the plastic piece in half – to separate the two ‘fish-hooks’ – and then take them out.

One by one. Ouch and ouch again.

Only not so much, because Kerry knows me well. And asked all about our weekend down in London celebrating Rosemary’s birthday. And because I love storytelling, I was focusing on that rather than the pain.

So yes, there were a couple of swear words (which I’d been graciously permitted to utter). But that was about it.

Nice job, Kerry – thank you. And how nice to find that you, like me, are a huge admirer of Van Gogh. You should get down and see that Experience before they pack their tents…