About a week and a half ago, I had to have a colonoscopy, which involved me having general anesthesia. Whenever I have an IV put in, it seems that there are comments made about the size of my very small veins which like to roll away from the needle. One doctor said it was like trying to put an IV in a pencil lead. I'm not a fan of being poked with needles in the first place, and that feeling is heightened by the fact that it often takes multiple pokes to get things taken care of.
So as I lay freezing in the hospital bed in my little corner partitioned off by thin curtains, I began preparing myself for the IV placement. As the nurse opened the various supplies, I gripped the rod on the side of the bed. I like to have something to hold onto when I'm poked so I don't flinch. I guess it must have looked like I was really uptight about it, because the nurse gave a slight chuckle and said, "Don't worry, I'm not messin' with you yet!" A few seconds later, she poked the needle into the top of my hand. As often happens, my vein rolled, and she then proceeded to dig around in my hand for a minute or two with the needle, proclaiming as she did so, "This vein is just playing hide and seek with me!"
Finally she removed the needle and decided to try up on my forearm since the vein on my hand was not cooperating. She poked in the needle, and after a few moments removed it declaring, "I have never seen that before...the needle had a hole in it!" Apparently the needle was defective and blood was leaking out of it. Lovely! She then told me that since she was having such trouble, she was just going to have the anesthesiologist place the IV.
A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist walked in and started searching for the vein on my hand. She placed the needle, attached the IV, and promptly ripped out the needle stating that my vein had just "blown up." I was slightly alarmed as she started in on my other hand, which had been wrapped in a hot blanket to try to get the veins to swell up a bit. She placed the needle in that hand, attached the IV, and once again let out an exasperated sigh, explaining that the vein on this hand had also exploded. "I don't know what the problem is," she said. "Usually if a vein blows up it is because we poke the needle all the way through it or the skin is thick and tough so the vein kinks. Neither of these are your problem--the veins keep blowing up after we attach the IV."
She and the nurse decided to "give me a break" and walked out, leaving me to ponder on the fate of my exploded veins and the needle that was still dangling out of my left hand, which they had left in to help it stop bleeding. About 20 minutes later the anesthesiologist walked back in, determined to make things work this time around. She placed the IV needle in the crook of my right elbow, let out another frustrated puff of air, yanked the needle out, and began flicking my forearm (which had already been poked with the defective needle) to try there.
I waited with bated breath as she placed the needle, connected the IV, and finally pulled out the tape to secure it, indicating that this attempt had at last been successful. "I had to use a pediatric needle," she told me. Frankly, I was just relieved that I could stop being poked with needles. They wheeled me into the examination room, both of my arms throbbing and bruised. As they positioned the bed, the anesthesiologist said that I could take home the "human pincushion award" for the day. Hey, it makes for a good story, right?