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Getting Through Difficult Blood Draws.

Getting Through Difficult Blood Draws

Patients with COPD will have to endure countless blood draws over the course of their lives.  For most, this is uncomfortable, but it can be tolerated.  For others, it seems like some kind of torture used on spies to give valuable information.

My mom had to endure difficult blood draws.  It broke my heart because, I too have had difficulty giving blood, so I knew first hand what it feels like.  I remember a few times that she had been stuck more than five times for one vial of blood, and I remember at least one, maybe more times that she was sent home and asked to come back the next day to try again.

I wish I had some miracle drug or technique to help with this.  All that I can offer is a few tips to help the process along:

    • Drink extra water the day before you need the blood drawn.  The more hydrated your body is, the more likely they will be able to get a stronger flow.
    • Ask if using a numbing gel or spray is possible.  There were a few times that she was able to use a numbing gel.  However, it was not often.
    • If you are needing treatments that require IVs often, you might want to talk to your doctor about having an access port installed.  I was nervous about mom’s access port when it was first installed.  I honestly didn’t understand the benefits of it until I actually saw them using it to draw blood and/or attach IVs.  Having a port installed is an outpatient surgery.  There are risks, as with all surgeries, so be sure to ask plenty of questions and weigh the advantages and disadvantages before proceeding.  You will also need to take care of the port once it is installed by having it flushed periodically.  You may also need to have it replaced after a few years.  Mom’s port began to fail in the last five years or so, and it was so aggravating to know that the port was there but no blood would come out.  They were able to use it for IVs, but not for blood draws.
    • Be willing to speak up, if a vein has not been accessed in two or three tries.  I would say no more than two.  Why is this?  Most know that after two tries they should find someone else to help.  The patient gets tense, and the phlebotomist can get nervous.  It is not worth increased anxiety to endure five, six or even seven sticks by the same person.  Sometimes you just need a different set of eyes.
    • Be conscious of the technician’s attitude.  There were more times than I can count that someone would come saying that they are the “best in the building”.  Almost every time, I would send them back out, if they did not hit it in one or two tries.  We encountered too many that walked in cocky and never got a vein.
    • Make sure that they listen to you.  If you know without doubt that the best way to get a vein is to use the smallest butterfly needle that they have, then don’t let someone touch your arm without it.  We have also seen far too many people that would scoff at our request and try to use a normal sized needle, only to blow a vein.  You know your arms.  You know what works for you.  Stand by it, and if you need to, ask for someone else to draw the blood.

I hope some of these suggestions help.  This was a very big part of the problem in getting my mom to agree to go to the hospital for the care that she needed.  She knew that every day and most nights, someone would be trying to draw blood.  Please don’t let this keep you from getting the care that you need.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.