Train In Vein

After my hospital adventures, I had a point driven home to me. My veins suuuuck! Holy crap do they suuuck!

For years I had to have blood work every 3 months. I didn’t really mind, they’d poke me, take what they needed, it was all over in a second. I’d just go in there, offer my arm, and say “Go at it.” The nurses would laugh at me and call me brave. Brave? What’s the big deal?

But a few years ago, I started noticing they were having more trouble drawing blood. Every now and then, the veins would play a rousing game of hide and go seek, which meant the techs would play root and go find, which made me go wince and go flinch. One lady had to put a warm cloth on my arm to draw out the veins.

This was an occasional thing, but it really started to get worse, to the point that I would warn lab techs that my veins sucked, and developed memory tricks to remind myself which arm was the good arm.

And then along came Mr. gallbladder surgery. That’s when things really got cute. Trying to get an IV into me so they could shoot me full of those lovely pain meds was no fun at all. When I was at St. Mary’s, they actually called in the IV nurse because they were having such a crummy time. She founda vein, but it was no picnic. Every time they flushed it, it would hurt. You know all that stuff about being brave? I am no longer brave. I whine and complain the whole time they’re trying to get hooked up, and despite my best efforts, end up saying things like “aaa you didn’t find it, did you? Aaa you missed it aaaack!” I know this doesn’t help, but I can’t stop myself. At one point when I was especially whiny, in my mind I suddenly saw a very small child’s face superimposed over my own. That was my brain’s way of saying “Stop being such a goddamn baby!”

By the end, they had to use what used to be a really good vein for blood draws for my IV. Now, that has come back to bite me because that goddamn vein has developed scar tissue over it. I learned this when the lab tech drove her needle through said scar tissue. I went in for followup blood work, offered up that arm, and the vein actually stopped working. They filled one vial, it went trickle trickle…stop! At this point I warned the tech that I might just hurl on her head. So they had to switch arms and go for my bad one. Luckily they got what they came for, but not before visions of butterflies in the back of my hand danced in my head.

My point of this post isn’t to continue my best impression of a screaming baby. My point is to ask if anyone has any tricks up their sleeve, har har, about making my veins not be so difficult? I try to remember to drink water before blood work, but sometimes I forget, and when I do remember, I can’t remember it giving me much more success. I’ve tried long sleeves because that would keep the arm warmer, but I don’t remember if it was super helpful. I know I haven’t been as diligent about remembering to try and repeatedly bend and straighten my arm before blood work…maybe that would help? Any other thoughts?

If this is how bad the suckers are when I’m young, I can’t imagine the shape I’ll be in when I’m old and grey and wrinkled.

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  1. The only thing I can think of is a semi-permanent stent (Ray had one for a while) but I think his was for fluids going in, not blood coming out. Poor guy is having the same problems you do. He is a human pincushion.

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