The Phoenix Zine

Freedom; AKA the End of IV Ganciclovir


After fifty-five days of intravenous ganciclovir infusions twice a day, my doctor has finally said my cytomegalovirus viral load is low enough to stop taking the drug.

Every time I’ve thought of this day during the past few weeks, George Michael’s song “Freedom” has played in my head.  Admittedly, the song is thought is to be about George Michael finally coming out of the closet, but I love the chorus.  To celebrate this momentous occasion, I have decided to create a list of Five Things I’ve Learned While Taking Ganciclovir

1.  PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) lines are a gift from God.  Let’s face it, I went through my second transplant nearly eight months ago and the amount of needles I’ve had to endure since then has been extensive.  My veins were already messed up from the first transplant, so now trying to do bloodwork , or put in an actual IV can be excruciatingly painful.

For that reason, PICC lines are beautiful.  Maybe I was lucky and just had a good experience with them, but having a intravenous line that goes from the upper inside of my arm directly to my heart that does not need to be changed unless it is clogged is a wondrous thing.  Not only have I avoided the hassle of finding new IV sites week after week, but I’ve also gotten a break from bloodwork needles.  A PICC line is multi-purpose and lets blood out and the drugs in.  I almost wish I could keep it permanently.  Almost.

2.  Yarn and IV tubing do not mix.  These weeks on the IV ganciclovir have given me plenty of free time to work on my knitting and crochet projects and during that time  I’ve had my share of tangles.  An especially fun one was when I forgot to check if the yarn was tangled with the tubing before I got changed for the night.  Took me a while to figure that one out.

3.  Having plastic tubing extending from your arm does not guarantee you will remember to take your IV pump with you every time you get up.  In fact, it seems to guarantee that you won’t.  I don’t know how many times I stood up and started walking without my IV pump only to realise what I’d forgotten when I felt the pain in my arm from the pull of the tubing.  The only time I remembered to take my IV pump with me was when its bag was already slug over my shoulder.  Now that the IV pump is gone, every time I even consider getting up, I think, “Wait, where’s my pump?”

4.  During times of nausea and intestinal difficulty, Original Pringles are the perfect food.  At one point during these past eight weeks I had six empty cans of Pringles in my recycling bin at once.  Pringles were my go-to food because the thought of them didn’t make my stomach turn, they have no cholesterol and their sodium level helped prevent me from becoming dehydrated.  Also, while there are some foods you can never eat again after they come back up, Original Pringles aren’t one of those foods. 

5.  Fifty-five days is exactly 7.85 weeks, 1320 hours, 79200 minutes or 4752000 seconds.  During this period I don’t know how many people told me my time on ganciclovir would be over before I knew it.  That is a platitude.  The truth is, time is time.  It may be perceived as moving fast or slow, but it moves at the same pace, day in and day out.  I agree with The Byrds’ song “Turn, Turn, Turn” that for everything there is a season and the saying, “This too shall pass,” but the passing still takes time.  There is no way to hurry it up.  And platitudes just make that fact especially irritating.

Two more weeks and two more blood tests and if all goes well I can say good bye to my PICC line too.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


  1. I was listening to Douglas Coupland being interviewed on CBC about his most recent book, Generation A (you might know his 1991 classic Generation X) He is quite imaginative and in this futuristic story creates a drug called Solon (pronounced like “so long”). This drug has the capacity to speed up our perception of time during bad life events such as serving jail time or, in your case, taking that retched drug therapy. One can also slow down the perception of time such as the pure enjoyment of a wonderful sunset or a treasured, happy experience. I’m still pondering if that is a good idea but it certainly makes you think.
    cheers! and congratulations on losing the IV pump.

  2. Hi Amy – This is GREAT news and happy to hear you have jumped another hurdle. I’m getting a visual on the yarn and the Pringle cans, trying to figure out what you could make out of those two things. Thanks for sharing, take care. Love Aunt Cindy

  3. Amy: Just keep that smile on your face that you always have. You are right, time is time. It depends on which end of the clock you are on, doesn’t it. as Cindy says, you have jumped another hurdle and heh… you are jumping.
    We miss you and are keeping you in our prayers.

    Blessings and Love to you.

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