5 tips to make blood draws and infusions less painful
IBD is an invisible disease. There’s so much more that goes on than some sassy bowels. In my ulcerative colitis journey, there have been some major ways that the disease has stealthily infiltrated my life.
One is that I have to get medication infused into my bloodstream every eight weeks for the rest of my life. I’m on a biologic, and it’s put me into the deepest period of remission I’ve ever been in. I’m so incredibly thankful for it, but there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes.
What strangers wouldn’t know is that for the longest time, it was extremely painful to get the IV in place. I have tiny veins, and nurses and phlebotomists would have always had difficulty finding them. I’d often get poked several times, and they’d have to try again because the vein would collapse or simply wouldn’t produce blood flow. I’d have bruises for days—sometimes the bruises would stay until the next infusion!
If you have small veins and painful needle pokes, here are some tips to make your veins pop:
– Stay warm. You can dress in layers, and even ask your infusion nurse for a warm blanket or a hand warmer to place on your arm.
– Do some light exercise before your infusion. Running up the stairs, jumping jacks, or pushups can help get your blood flowing.
– Chug water. The day before and the day of your infusion, drink plenty of water. This also helps make veins easier to find. Also, increasing your sodium intake the day before your infusion will help retain that water.
– If the nurses don’t already do this, ask them to make a tourniquet on your arm. Clenching and unclenching your fist or squeezing a stress ball may do the trick, as well.
– If all else fails, just look away and have a casual conversation with your nurse. Honestly, sometimes a simple distraction is the easiest way to get it over with.
The point is: experiment with different methods to find one that works best for you. Every situation is unique and everyone’s veins are different; it may take some trial and error.
Just by looking at me, no one would guess that I’ve had bruises on my arms and hands from getting poked so many times so often. No one would know that I’ve had to perfect how to get needles inserted in my arm to get pumped with a life-saving medication every other month. But it’s all been worth it because, finally, I’m in remission.
IBD is much more than an intestinal disease. It’s an invisible illness with sneaky, stealthy symptoms that no one would notice unless we decide to share them.
And I choose to share my story because AWARENESS → FUNDING → RESEARCH → CURES!
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