This topic contains 40 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Jen Cueva 1 month ago.

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  • #20586
     Brittany Foster 
    Keymaster

    If you are anything like me, IV sticks become one of the biggest hurdles to jump through at the beginning of every hospital stay. It is hard when I am waiting in pain for medication or waiting for something to be put through the IV like antibiotics, symptom relief, etc but STILL am waiting on an IV. Yesterday, before being admitted into the hospital, an IV was attempted on me. I am limited to just one limb (my right arm) due to other surgeries to the left side of my arm and different veins and artery connections on that side.

    Because I am so limited as to what veins they can use, many of the veins I have are scarred down or overused. They turn, are tiny, and are just “bad veins” as I’ve been told thousands of times. Something that helps to make getting an IV easier is getting someone who is comfortable doing the IV while I am laying down. This helps me to relax and be less tense as it’s going on. It also helps to warm up my arm with a few warm blankets, slap the veins a few times, and stay as hydrated as possible.

  • #20599
     Colleen Steele 
    Keymaster

    Darn IV sticks. Even post transplant my son really struggles with this because of small, moving veins. Heat packs and drinking lots of water helps…a little. He always tells them to go in the hand if possible because unless they are the best of the best, they are not going to get anything in the arm.

    If he catches on that it’s going to be a nightmare getting an IV he requests the nurse track down the IV team with the blue light that helps locate veins. It often means waiting for a while until they show up but it’s worth not having to get poked a dozen times.

    • #20617
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Colleen,
      yes! I learned this lesson the hard way while being in the hospital this last time. There was one nurse who was so confident that she was going to get it. There’s always that nurse around that is everyone’s “go to” nurse for an IV. Well, I got her and she DIDN’T get me. I ended up requesting the ultrasound guided IV because I knew that with my level of dehydration they just weren’t going to find anything. It actually was a quick stick. Those always seem to bleed out the most though because they have to go pretty deep for a vein. They have been finding them closer to my upper arm now.

  • #20601
     Jen Cueva 
    Participant

    Oh, I feel your pain, Brittany. These IVs often can be the worst. I have so much scar tissue and tiny veins, too. They often use a “vein finder”, call in the NICU nurse who is often a great resource, if available.

    Staying hydrated, heat packs as well as repositioning often is helpful when I have had issues with IV sticks. I hope that they have you hooked up and helping with your pain some by now.

    The worst is when the nurse goes in and starts digging around. Hello, I am attached to those veins, Hehe

    • #20618
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Oufff I cringe with just reading that about digging into the veins! That is the WORST! I know they are just trying to do their jobs in finding one, but STILL, it’s at the expense of our comfort level. Usually I just say that “it’s fine” when they ask if it hurts but inside my head in screaming! It’s hard because you know that you need the IV medication and are willing to do what it takes to get it but at the same time it’s painful and uncomfortable. For me, there better be some good meds that are waiting for me LOL

      • #20621
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        So true, Brittany! I often am OK until after 3-4 tries of that digging by one nurse. It hurts, but as you said, often it is needed for some pain control, so usually worth it. I try to “stick” it out. Hehe

      • #20630
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Lol “stick it out” total pun intended! I love it! You’re too funny. Oh yes . After try 3 or 4 I just kind of go numb. It has always been a way that my ptsd appears when I’m getting tested . I almost “drift off” to another planet (and I promise there are no meds in my system at this point). It is my body’s response to pain which can both be a good thing and a bad thing because I’m kind of desensitized to it. As awful as that sounds.

      • #20642
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Yes, certainly thought you would like that one, Hehe

        I think some days it is good to drift off to “Layla land” as I say when I am in the hospital and want them to do what they need to do and move along, LOL

      • #20653
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Jen,
        As much as I fight to maintain that control over my body at all times, there are certain circumstances I get put in with medical procedures, tests, IV sticks etc where I just have to let go of that tight grip of control and just accept what is going on in the moment. Learning to loosen that control also helps medications take better effect too and do their job. I don’t know about you but I have a really high tolerance for pain medications, pain in general, and even anesthesia. I just don’t go out the same anymore and it takes a lot MORE to do the trick. Usually anesthesiologists are surprised by how I “fight it off”

      • #20675
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Great point, Brittany. I, too was told by my pain doctor that I have a high tolerance to pain. She said that my husband would be out with the pain meds that I need at times and he is almost twice my size.I find this can help but also hinder me at times. Can you relate?

      • #20677
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        I think it’s definitely a double edged sword for me too. In one respect, having a high pain tolerance means that I can deal with a lot more than the average person probably could and still do the things I need to do in a day. But on the other hand, the level of discomfort and pain that I tolerate usually has to get to the point of being excruciating and needing 9-1-1 in order for me to do something about it because it becomes hard to tell what “normal” pain is for me because I almost become desensitized to it. I also disassociate as a form of PTSD from my past body traumas that I have experienced so it’s hard for me to even fully grasp the level of discomfort I’m feeling and be able to talk about it in a sensible way with doctors. When they try to get an IV into my arm or something before a procedure I take myself to a completely different place in my mind to the point where I’m not even responding to their questions appropriately.

  • #20766
     Sarah Kuykendall 
    Participant

    I’m a retired IV nurse with PAH. I mostly can give tips to those who start the ivs, but there are a couple of things the patient can do. First, muscles mean better veins. We used to get our patients to squeeze a ball several times a day. Raquet balls probably work best, but any smallish ball will work. When watching tv just start squeezing that ball.

    Another thing – you hear the nurse or iv nurse is coming. Get warm. Cover yourself with blankets. If you’re where they having warming blankets ask your nurse to bring one. If you have time and ability take a hot shower. The body expands the veins so they can get to the surface to cool off. Makes it much easier for the nurse and for you.

    Good luck!

    • #20773
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Sarah,
      This is such amazing advice! Especially coming from you as an IV nurse, you certainly have the experience and know what you’re talking about. I’m sure you have used your own advice on multiple occasions too. I like the idea of pumping up the muscles with a stress ball or something too. Usually they give me a ball like that to squeeze while I’m getting it done. I’ve also warmed up my whole arm with the warm blankets and even hot packs. I gotta do whatever I can to pump these things up. Quick question: why do IV nurses slap the arm or vein? Lol does it even help that much?

    • #20801
       Jen Cueva 
      Participant

      Hi Welcome, and thanks for your IV tips. I was a hospice nurse, so I did not start any IVS in my last job pre-PH.

      I was at the infusion center yesterday and the nurse blew 2 veins then got one in my other arm. My issue is that my veins are tiny and scar tissue.

  • #20805
     Sarah Kuykendall 
    Participant

    A lot of nurses slap the arm trying to get the veins to stand up. I never found that particularly helpful, but I’d done it so long it wasn’t usually necessary. I actually ran a listserv for iv therapy nurses for 10 years and then started and ran a website for 10 years for them (www.iv-therapy.net) but gave it up to someone else about 2 years ago. I’m afraid it’s not as active as it was, but is still around. After seeing this post, I went back to my website and saw that the links for starting iv tips seem to be down. I’m going to contact my successor and see if he can put them back up.

    One other thing I’m a little hesitant to say. In my hospital we never stuck anyone more than twice. After that we’d call someone else. Most hospitals now have an ultrasound just for this purpose. If it’s all that difficult someone should be using that. Please understand I worked at a large teaching hospital and we were ahead of a lot of places. In smaller facilities they may not have this.

    Oops! Another thing. If you wind up having to have a long term antibiotic course or need frequent iv access, ask your doctor about getting a picc (peripherally inserted central catheter) or port-a-cath. Either will save you a lot of pain.

    Sarah

    • #20813
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Sarah,
      as someone who is getting frequent infections and it is hard for me to hold down my medications and pills, a PICC line has been brought up to me. I know that with the way my arteries and veins are in my body my vascular surgeon may need to be the one to place this. I think I am going to bring this up with my cardiologist the next time I see him. Especially because I am frequently in the hospital needing IV for procedures etc. I just don’t want to have the “run around” trying to find a vein every single time I’m in there. I have experience with using the ultrasound machine, but when they do it under ultrasound usually a doctor has to be the one to put it in and they just JAB MY ARM! The nurses are way more gentle LOL

  • #20913
     Sarah Kuykendall 
    Participant

    Brittany,
    I may be reading this wrong, but it sounds like a port might be a better option. A port is under the skin so when you’re not receiving iv medications, you have no dressing and can take showers, etc. By and large a picc is good when you’re having something like a week or two of antibiotics. If you wind up having iv medications every month or so a port might be better. See https://nurse.org/articles/what-is-a-port-a-cath/.

    • #20920
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Sarah,
      Thank you so much to the link to the article. Before getting my picc line placed I will talk with my doctors about it getting a port would be the best option for me. I also have a pacemaker and my subclavian artery and veins are positioned differently so idk how that would work for a port but I’m willing to give it a try if it would be better long term . Do you know if they can give things like IV fluids through a port or is that just through something like a PICC line?

      • #20933
         Colleen Steele 
        Keymaster

        Brittany,
        Some patients prefer the tunneled ports and others, like my son, not so much. Post Transplant he tried a tunneled port for a treatment that was going to take several months. This was in his chest and the port was accessed with a long gauge needle. It turned out to be a nightmare. Due to scarring from transplant and the position of his new heart the port was placed just out of reach of the needle. They agonizingly tried and tried but the port did not work for him. I’m not saying this would be the case for you but if you have concerns that it might not work well for you, it might be worth your time and sanity to just go with the regular picc line.

        Showering isn’t too difficult. They will train you on how to protect it but yes, you will have to deal with dressing changes.

      • #20940
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Thanks so much for the tips, Colleen! I know you’re speaking from your own experience with what your son went through. Sometimes when there’s a different anatomy it can be more challenging and even more uncomfortable. I’m sorry he had to go through all of that with his port. I’m hoping that it’s not long term for me so maybe the PICC will be better, like you said ! Still waiting for interventional radiology to call for my placement. I’ve been able to get the antibiotics through my tube so I actually may not even need it.

    • #20958
       Jen Cueva 
      Participant

      Sarah,
      Great tips and share. I was told by my home health nurse a few times that a port may work better depending on how long I would need to use my PICC line. At the time the PICC line worked and I’ve also used a midline too , I think twice.

      Carol, it’s great to have a great place to share and learn from each other. It certainly can depend on the nurse, too. I’ve had my share of both.

  • #20921
     Sarah Kuykendall 
    Participant

    Brittany,

    I don’t know about the pacemaker, but yes they can give you fluids or anything else you need i.v. Unless they’ve changed the procedures they only need to access it once a month if not in use and you can be taught to do that.

    • #20923
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      I will definitely have to ask about this ! Thank you so much. I will see how the PICC line works out first and then I will bring it up to my cardiologist at the end of the month so he can try to schedule a placement for a port or something. Thanks again for all your advice! It’s really helpful, especially from someone with the experience.

  • #20929
     Carol Volckmann 
    Participant

    Thank you Brittney, Colleen, Jen and Sarah for all your tips on IVs. I always seem to have issues with my veins too small and move around. Most of the time IV nurses di listen but when they don’t it really becomes a problem. Many thanks to all of you!

    • #20936
       Colleen Steele 
      Keymaster

      Carol, you are most welcome! I hope a tip or two will help you in the future.

      Another thing I’ve thought to mention is the use of EMLA / numbing creams. We discovered long ago when my son was little that these creams do help with the discomfort when getting an IV, but it makes finding a viable vein that much more difficult. He’s 19 now and still sometimes offered numbing cream and he always declines. For him, it delays the process even more.

      • #20938
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Colleen,
        I’ve heard of using the numbing cream and I’ve also heard of using something that makes like a popping noise to numb the area quickly. Kind of like lidocaine I think. It does work but it’s like a pop and sting BEFORE the needle. Sometimes I’m just like “forget it, just get it over with!” Lol

    • #20937
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      I know what you mean, Carol. It can really all depend on the nurse that you get to do it. Usually the ones at the local ER are sadly familiar with me and know that I’m serious when I say I’m a “tough stick”. Others try to get it just to prove a point sometimes but it just doesn’t work out in their favor and I’m like “told you so!”

  • #20946
     Colleen Steele 
    Keymaster

    Brittany, that would be great if you don’t need it, but if you do don’t stress too much, especially if you will only need it for a short time. I think you would find a picc to be nothing compared to other things that you have been through.

    • #20956
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thanks so much for the feedback, Colleen. I may not be needing it right now because I’ve just been putting the antibiotics through the tube and it seems to be clearing things up well enough! Went to my doctor today and it looks a lot better than it did with less drainage so the antibiotics must be doing their job.

      • #20962
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Brittany, I’m so excited to hear that your appointment went well for the most part. I’m happy to hear that the oral antibiotics are being absorbed by your body via the tube. Every little bit of positive news, we will take! That’s a great way to start my evening. Thanks for sharing.

      • #20969
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Jen,
        Thanks so much for the encouragement ! It has been hard with this infection because some days are better than others. I think that’s probably just how it is with the tube in general. Some days it feels easier to manage and I can do the things I want to do more comfortably, and other days I can barely move from bed. I wish there was some kind of happy medium!

      • #20980
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Brittany, I certainly hope that you will get to that “happy medium” soon. I am hoping that once the infections are cleared and the site has adequate time to heal, you will find some relief. That is what I am hoping for you. I know that since you had it placed, it really has not had time to heal because of the infections, etc… Please know that I am always here if you need some support, even if you want to yell and cry and scream at someone, Hehe-

        I can only imagine just how difficult this can be some days living with a tube.

      • #20983
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Thank you so much, Jen. I am always here if you ever need a vent session too. It definitely is hard with the tube, especially because I’m not using it for nutrition because I just can’t tolerate the level of discomfort that it causes me. I wish it wouldn’t cause pain or else I would feel a lot more nourished and a lot less worn down. I’ve been so tired lately and just haven’t really felt like myself.

  • #20986
     Carol Volckmann 
    Participant

    Hi Brittney,sometimes when I feel so much pain, feel so worn down and feel like I am at the bottom of a well and no where to climb out I see a rope but no one thers to pull me out – I tie a big knot in the rope and just hang on and rest there. It works! I find the energy, I see my husband and slowly climb out of the pit. Hang in there Brittany allow yourself time to heal as Jen said- you will and you will begin to feel like yourself again. And remember Jen said you could scream at her hehe! Lots of love. ❤

    • #20992
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thank you so much, Great visualization of the rope too. I love that your husband is that source of support for you to help pull you back up on your feet when you’re not feeling or doing your best. We all need that person in our lives. You’re right, I should totally take up the offer from Jen to just scream in the phone hahaha!! Not sure if her eardrums would approve though.

      • #21013
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        That is certainly, OK with me, Brittany. Carol, you can also scream at me, no worries. I know we all have those days. Hehe

        Carol, I love the rope theory. They always say, “when you feel like you have had enough, hang on “, so that is what comes to my mind when I think of the rope. Great tip!

        Brittany, I hope that you can get some much-needed rest and relief from the pain soon. I know it must be extremely uncomfortable, to say the least. I appreciate you for your support, too.

      • #21032
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Jen,
        pretty soon everyone is just going to be calling you up and screaming on the phone haha!!!! Maybe you will need an ear exam soon and you can blame it on the forums haha!! But in all seriousness, thank you for always reaching out to me and others to offer a listening ear. Sometimes that’s the greatest gift I can receive in a day, especially when going through stuff that may feel so hard to put into words. Thank YOU!

      • #21049
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Thank you, Brittany. I certainly appreciate you and everyone in the forums. Everyone is so supportive and I love the close-knit feel that we have here. Seriously, I feel the same about you. No matter what you are dealing with, you are here supporting us all. Love you bunches and thanks for all that you do.

  • #21025
     Carol Volckmann 
    Participant

    Thanks Jen – what is so great about this forum, is the fact that we CAN scream and we are all there to support! Thank you again, you can scream at me too!
    ❤❤

    • #21033
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      I agree Carol!

    • #21048
       Jen Cueva 
      Participant

      LOL, so true, Carol. We certainly can scream and support each other here. This is a great place to be.

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