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The Fine Line – Pt 4: Instagram, Zebras, and a different kind of ED

The Fine Line is a series of stories from Rick. Check out part 1, part 2, and part 3!
Note: Some of the details in this story are not for the squeamish.

Meanwhile, In the Hospital…


I was being fitted for an I-J or Central line, a special type of IV that goes directly to heart via the arterial jugular route in the neck. When they first informed me that one of these I was scared. IVS, needles, mid-lines, sure; I never would think twice about those but an I-J was another story. I found a beacon of inspiration and hope in an unlikely location…Instagram.

Finding Inspiration on Social Media

I had been following several people on Instagram with a very unique disease called Ehlers-Danlos. Patients often refer to themselves as Zebras. The disease is incredibly rare, affects each patient differently and often requires various tubes and monitoring IVs and PICC lines to keep the individual alive. One person in particular: Renee, stood out in my mind. I had recently seen a picture she posted with an I-J in her neck.

I thought to myself, if she can live for weeks with one in, surely I could survive whatever short stint mine would be in for. With the ketamine (a strong pain killer) knocking me out, I would barely feel it as they made the area near my neck completely clean before setting up the I-J.

They began feeding me all kinds of antibiotics to get rid of the sepsis. In truth I had no idea how close to death I was only moments before. But, as they tested me every few hours I was slowly coming to, and began asking questions. They sent me upstairs to the ICU for monitoring to see what else could be done. They continued to draw blood from my I-J and  from my arms to check if any of the antibiotics I was on were affecting the infection. They also had me take lactulose in hopes that it would help remove some of the fluid via my stool and that more taps would not be needed. I requested to be fitted with an adult diaper because I could barely control the flow from my butt. As the night went on and I regained some control I stopped requesting them and used the ICUs hidden mystery toilet.

You can follow me on Instagram: defnotricknash

Check back for more from Rick’s series “The Fine Line”

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.