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Do you have trouble with blood draws or IV starts?

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 NEW BLOOD DRAW/IV 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.


This is my new water cup for my Migraine Cave…it holds the 16oz bottles of water perfectly 🙂  And it is soooo cute!

My Plan In Summary

  1. Hand warming gloves about a half an hour before blood draw/IV start
  2. Hydration: 64 oz the day before if possible and 64 oz the day of the blood draw/IV start.

 

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Hospital Admittance #3: Chelsea Hospital MHNI

On our way to Chelsea to the inpatient Michigan head-pain neurological institute. My insurance has approved the stay and I will be there for 7-10 days. Trusting that God’s got this!

The 2nd of many trips my mom and I would be making to Chelsea Community Hospital

March 31st on our way

My set up: Check out the crock pot at my side to heat my rice bags.  They actually let me keep it the entire time 🙂

Gideon and his Olaf that he made this morning with Grandma. He was so proud and a little sad when it had fallen over and started to melt this afternoon.

March 31st

All settled and dinner ordered just waiting to see the nurse to find out what the plan is.  A few questions I got on FB during the first day at Chelsea.

Heather Loose Johnson And after 4 attempts they finally got an IV started.
Amy Rogers looks like we had the same problem
Carrie McHugh David Please keep me posted. I hope you get some answers
Heather Loose Johnson I definitely will. I so wish insurance wasn’t so stupid and that you could be here too
Carrie McHugh David Me too! I just don’t want to go through the same testing that I have already gone through, so I am curious to see what test they are doing to you.
Heather Loose Johnson The only thing they had me do was the EEG and EKG because I just had the MRI, MRA and MRV. I just met with the Drs and they did not mention any tests just various drugs they are going to try. To knock this sucker down. I woke today with one of the headaches very diminished but the longer I am awake the more it comes back. But I will take 20 minutes of relief to start the day . It just sucks that it has to come back a feeling you know better than most. Do you know why yours started or did they never figure that out for you?
Cindyheath Robert Alling Are all the teats coming back normal?
Heather Loose Johnson Yes my tests are normal hehe and so are all of my test results.

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First Nerve Block

I just had my first nerve block.  I can’t remember what it was called but I got shots in the back of my head and the front.  Everything on my head feels numb, but my forehead feels especially weird. The numbness seems to have confused my brain for a couple of hours anyway. The pain remains but it is difficult to distinguish it from the numbness.  After the numbness finally wore off, the pain from the injection sites is pretty prominent and now the headache is starting to creep back in. Hoping after a week I get some relief. Man has it felt weird. My head was actually numb for more than 24 hours. Praying it works!!!!

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Friends/Birthday Celebrations

Although the headache persisted most of the day I had a couple of bright spots in my day. Thank you to Udenika Wijesinghe for coming to visit. Sorry the dr was here for much of your visit and thank you for your  patience. It was good to see you again. I hope next time it is for lunch for a fun afternoon out

It was so great to celebrate your birthday Dawn Tomlin. Isn’t it exactly how you had envisioned it in a hospital room sitting next to me. The Taco Bell was heavenly! And hopefully the blonde brownies were yummy, I know I have enjoyed them. But having the company was superb. Thank you again for visiting and keeping my spirits high.

Now off to sleep. Several meetings with specialists tomorrow and then I go home at the end of the day tomorrow. Apparently the insurance company is starting to question why I have been here for so long. Because I still have a killer headache and they haven’t figured out how to control it that’s why. But alas they are sending me home. So we will manage. More updates as I know more tomorrow.

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Reaching out to Fellow Migraine Sufferers

One more night at the hospital. Though they have done all they can for me, I had a tough night last night and again this morning both points when the medicine had worn off. I haven’t talked with Neurology yet
today but my thoughts are that the meds are acting as a band aid once again and they haven’t found something to actually resolve the headache. I am not sure where I will go from here except home tomorrow.

Heather Loose Johnson: Ruthanne Ovenhouse could I get your contact info? I know your daughter is a serious sufferer of debilitating headaches. Has anyone else out there had success at clinics with chronic headaches like Mayo or Cleveland or U of M. I don’t think my journey is over with this headache and while the extra day here is good comfort wise I don’t think there is anything more they can do.
Ruthanne Ovenhouse: They have a pain specialist scheduled to meet with me tomorrow to talk with me about injections .  You just never know. The neurologist was afraid they probably wouldn’t work because all of my pain is in the front and top of my head but also thought it was worth a try.  Oh I have been praying they could help you because I haven’t wanted to share with you all of Carrie’s disappointments on this journey of over 6 years. She does seem to be having more good days but she deals with another debilitating issue also. Why don’t you pm me your phone # and I will give it to her. That way you can talk or text. You can be sure I will continue to pray for relief for you.

Conversation with family Robin and Rick Wood:

Robin Wood: Heather you really should ask about injection at the base of your like my son Rick had. Took a couple of days before it worked. He had a headache for over six months. Has not had another.
Heather Loose Johnson: Rickandmegan Wood who did you see for your headache and what kind of headache were they?
Rick Wood: They figured mine was a nerve in my neck somewhere but they weren’t sure exactly where was they sent me to a pain specialist but since I AM on blood thinners they wanted to try a different approach so she gave me like 7 injections in the back of my neck and skull about 3 days to a week after the injections and all the sudden I woke up and it was gone haven’t had one sense they tried a bunch of medications before that nothing worked and it was a Henry Ford Dr I will have to get you the name a neurologist.  By the way it was the worst six months of my life hope your headaches go away soon Heather Loose Johnson: They have a pain specialist scheduled to meet with me tomorrow to talk with me about injections smile emoticon. You just never know. The neurologist was afraid they probably wouldn’t work because all of my pain is in the front and top of my head but also thought it was worth a try.
Rick Wood:  That’s exactly where mine were so they so they wanted to do the nerve block they were just going to block all those nerves going through your neck but they didn’t they ended up giving me some kind of cortisone and something else and my whole head face and everything was numb for about 6 hours and after that the headache came back like I said for about 3 days to a week and then they were just gone
Heather Loose Johnson: Here’s hoping and praying Rick!!!
Rick Wood: I know exactly how you feel.  Mine were constant from the minute I woke up does a minute I want to sleep all I want to do is lay around or something over my head and try to sleep
Heather Loose Johnson: Sounds about right. I’ve been in bed for 4 weeks straight and was in bed for much of the 3 weeks prior on and off. I wonder if we have a genetic predisposition for this type of shitty headache.
Rick Wood:  I can imagine it was. I am at 48 days with 3 pain free days.

 

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Visitors and Migraines

It was wonderful to see Dianne Clone this morning unfortunately it would have been better to meet up under better circumstances. Wayne came into the hospital yesterday and is just 4 floors below me so I got a visit and it was wonderful.

Dianne Clone It was wonderful to see you today & pray with all my heart that they have found the right med. we are actually getting home – the AFIB med was low dose so didn’t need to spend 48 hrs being monitored. PTL Enjoy your boys, sleep well & hopefully you get to go home tomorrow.

Heather Loose Johnson Great news Dianne! Thank you Joy! Too bad all the commotion of the evening spiked a headache with a vengeance. . At least there is a med that might knock it back down. Now just to get neuro back in to check on me to give that order. I have decided..headaches suck

And now I am looking forward to a visit from my boys. I have missed them a great deal over the past 2 months but especially when I am in the hospital. At least when I am home I get lots of hugs from Gideon. So I am looking forward to their hugs. And to seeing Dan too of course  I am also looking forward to another visit from Melinda Richmond. She had been a lifeline while I have been here. It us so wonderful to look back over our friendships in the ways we have been there for each other.  I will be ready to sleep tonight for sure.  Oh and we think we found a med that may have knocked out the headache. Fingers crossed! Hoping to go home tomorrow if pain continues to diminish.

It was good to see my boys!!!  Unfortunately all the commotion resulted in a very bad spike in my migraine. Good thing I got to see them before it started.

March 11th

Abortive medications are not working…Keppra is not working….Elavil is not working.

 

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Visit from a dear friend

Mindy RichmondHad a great time visiting with my dear friend Heather Loose Johnson. God is in control… relax! Love you!!

Heather Loose Johnson It was continued nourishment for my soul spending time with dear friends. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk and reminisce about hospital fun smile emoticon good times!!
Marla Ask Rigas We prayed for you both in the 1-3 grade class this morning. Glad you were both blessed today!