Ever since I was a patient at Chelsea Hospital in the inpatient program through MHNI I have had veins that seem to collapse, create a hematoma (a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues), and act like brittle paper. While I was there I had 31 needle pokes to either draw blood or start new IV’s because the previous one was hurting so bad. I was on a medication called DHE (Dihydroergotamine) that causes vasoconstriction (the constriction of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure) and tends to be really rough on veins.
So every time I have to go the ER or have blood drawn I end up with what you see below. The bruises on the hand don’t show up very well but boy do they hurt. They always try the hand first and then work their way up my arm trying to find a vein and trying to find a vein that won’t collapse. When they just can’t find a vein, even after 6 pokes…they finally call in an IV team (I had never heard of it until my last ER visit) that uses ultrasound to find a vein deep down that wouldn’t collapse. It was so fast and easy…I wish they could always do that, but they can’t.
One of the biggest problems I have is that if I have a reason to go to the ER or have a procedure done, I am often in the middle of a migraine, so I am very dehydrated. Hopefully having the Migraine Cave stocked with water (which has already been helpful) will make this plan more effective. But after what happened during my last ER visit (pics below) I have come up with a plan:
My plan came about accidentally really. I was shopping at Walmart in a clearance section and came across the gloves that are show below, called Red Hot gloves. They came with two hand warmers that you insert into the top of the hand into a little pocket. The hothands that are in the picture are cheap replacements since they are only 1 time use.
About a half an hour before a procedure, blood draw or IV poke I plan to put these on to heat up the veins on the top of my hands. The idea came from MHNI wear they often submerse my hand and arm into warm water and then a lab used one of the hand warmers after I told them that my veins were difficult to find.
I get so sick of the phlebotomists that just think they are going to be “the one” that gets it on the first try. Four tries later, after not taking my advice about heat on my hands I have 4 hematomas and they have finally found a vein.
Now I can always have heat on my hands coming into the lab, hospital, ER, etc. I don’t have to deal with the person that won’t listen to me that my hands need to be heated in order to draw blood or place an IV. I took my health care into my own hands.
The second part of my plan is only for times when I have scheduled procedures or blood draws, this will not work when I end up in the ER. But hydration is soooo important for blood draws and IV starts. This last blood draw, I drank water from the time I woke until 1:00pm when I got my blood drawn. I read that 64 oz. the day before and the day of is the most helpful amount and that excessive amounts are not necessary.
My Plan In Summary
- Hand warming gloves about a half an hour before blood draw/IV start
- Hydration: 64 oz the day before if possible and 64 oz the day of the blood draw/IV start.