After 16 years of IV drug use, the fact that I can even still do anything that has to do with veins is nothing close to a miracle.
I never had good veins to begin with, even when I was younger they had trouble.
Would you believe I use to have a needle phobia? Yeah, I know. What a laugh. I had a bad experience with a flu shot when I was about 6 and after that, I pretty much had to be held down with anything to do with needles (not piercings but medically related). When I was 18, that all changed.
Since I have destroyed my body on my own, and then had all the issues with having to get tons of IV’s with 2 hyperemesis gravidarum pregnancies, this is my experience every time I get blood.
First, phlebotomists are the worst at trying to get veins on the planet. Doctors are a close second because they don’t have the experience the nurses do. Some might be different but this is the majority. They just haven’t had the practice.
I tell the low-level phlebotomist to stick the needle in if only 100% sure. Also, not to even bother with using anything but the butterfly needles because even those are too big for my veins. My veins collapse right away.
You either need to poke and get the blood right away or just not at all. So after the first one tries 3x and fails, they call someone above them. Next, they try 3x-6x (even though it’s just suppose to be 3) because at one point they got a little squirt of blood. Which means nothing but they think it does. When they fail again they explain they need to bring in the best, “Sharon” because this is getting real….. She is usually with someone else either taking blood or helping someone else with their “hard stick”.
Sharon comes in she looks me overall confident. I usually explain what has happened so far, and she thinks she sees something. She doesn’t but she thinks she does.
When she fails they try to sit me in the lobby with some heating packs attached to the spots they think they saw a vein. They ask me if I’m hydrated for the 10th time. I tell them yes…. I sit there frustrated, waiting, as people go in and out easily having their blood taken.
They take me back again and fail. They then tell me to try another location in another city. I usually have to go to about 3 locations before I can fight with my insurance about going to the hospital. It’s a couple of weeks-long battle getting 1 blood test.
I go to the hospital, and when I sign in they tell me they called my insurance and that I’m not approved for getting blood taken from the hospital. Then I usually have to call my insurance case advisor and have her on the phone 3 way calling a bunch of people.
Finally, I get approved to be at the hospital after the proof of the multiple location’s failures.
They take me back, see the bruises and mess on my arms. I let them know they have to get me a nurse. They argue, usually have their phlebotomists try. Then after arguing and waiting for approval a nurse finally gets there.
Now, this can go 1 of 2 ways. The nurse is either kickass if an ER nurse, and can actually get a small amount of some blood. Or I have to wait for them to have an ultrasound machine available. Usually, it’s in use, and I’m the last priority so I am waiting for a while. Finally, the machine gets there and usually, they have trouble with a lot of blood going all over because of all the damage the phlebotomists have done.
After a few big pokes, and digging around with the ultrasound we get a vein. If they use the ultrasound machine I have them get above and beyond the amount of blood they need, so I have as many tests ordered as possible because if I’m going through all of this it has to be worth it.
That is how it REALLY is for those who are hard to get blood. Now if it’s an IV it’s a whole other story.
Are you a hard blood stick? Let me know your bad experiences below.