Air Cancer Flight 102: Fun and Games with Nurse Needle

We thought, Doc Swanson (a.k.a. Wonder Doc) and I, that Flight 102 had made it through the turbulence and that there would be smooth sailing ahead for awhile.

After an aborted flight or two, Doc amended my chemo orders to chemo one week/no chemo the next week. After chemo, my immune system would do a nosedive precluding chemo the next week; but by week three, my WBCs (white blood cells) and my little Neutrophils and my platelets were being cooperative and would rebound to within normal limits. Great!

So, it was with a happy heart, a large McDonald’s iced coffee, and Ray Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing” (I highly recommend this book, by the way) that I checked in at Ye Olde Infusion Suite shortly before 1 PM after my usual visit with Wonder Doc.

N.A. Ann (she of “I have a needle with your name on it” fame) greeted me effusively and allowed me my choice of seats. N.A. Cathy was on duty, too, but neither Carrie nor Carei was there to witness what would be a first.

Shortly, Ann approached with a broad smile and her cart of nurse tricks, including alcohol swabs, tourniquets (for tying off your arm so tightly that you just know it soon will fall off), and, of course, NEEDLES. With her usual generosity, she allowed me a choice of arms. Since we had picked the right for yesterday’s blood draw, I suggested the left.

Ann tied off my arm as tightly as she could and began power-swabbing my left forearm with her frozen alcohol swab. (She’d do well in a bathroom commercial that requires any kind of scrubbing demonstration!) After several minutes of swabbing, she found what she thought might be a suitable vein in mid-forearm. “One, two, three, little poke,” she intoned as she pierced my skin and attempted entry.  Usually at this point, there will be a flow of blood that lets the jabber know she’s into the vein. Not today! Zip, zilch, nada! Worse yet, when she withdrew the needle, it was bent. I’m not making this up.

On to the right arm. Same prep. Same process. Same results. Zip, zilch, nada — no blood/bent needle. Alrighty then!

During all this time, we were bantering as though we were just us girls on some fun lark, much to the chagrin of a couple of my fellow travelers, who undoubtedly thought we were both nutz. Did I tell you Ann’s not from Texas? I misspoke last time. My bad. She’s really from Louisiana! Which explains quite a lot. A background in voodoo surely comes in handy in her profession. For some reason, in between jabs, I kept hearing the song “Witchy Woman” ringing in my ears.

Having tried and FAILED, Miss Ann called for reinforcements. “Cathyyyyy! You’re up!” Seeing as how the right forearm hadn’t worked, Cathy went for the back of my right hand and actually thought she was “in” at one point. It was not to be. Left hand, same result. Geeze Louise! If you’re counting, and believe me I was, that makes four attempts. It was here that I suggested, trying to be helpful, that I leave and come back tomorrow. My suggestion fell on deaf Nurse Ears.

The problem was, I was dehydrated! I, who usually guzzle tons of water, hadn’t been guzzling water. I’d been on an iced-tea trip for the past few days and figured several giant glasses of iced tea plus some juice was plenty of hydration for one day. NOT! How was I to know that just because iced tea is made from water, it’s not the same as drinking water and drinking caffeinated tea when you run out of your usual decaf just adds to dehydration!

But, fear not. N.A. Cathy had one more trick up her sleeve, seconded by N.A. Ann: wrap my arm in a warm blanket and let it stay snuggled up there for about twenty minutes. Lo and behold and Hallelujah, Praise Be — it worked! The fifth needle found its mark on the first try 🙂

As one who has prided herself on her good, cooperative veins, this was a lesson learned! I’m typing this from the comfort of my bathroom, as I’ve managed to down five gallons of water since my return home late this afternoon. I hereby PROMISE to drink lotsa water. Every day. Without fail. And if you and I should meet somewhere and I don’t have a glass of water in my hand, please put one there!

One last thing: In all fairness to the lovelies Ann and Cathy, it wasn’t as excruciating as it may sound. They’re both quite adept at what they do and were almost as frustrated as I was! I threatened them both with removal of their title of “One Stick Wonder,”  but I’m not gonna do it.

Well, not this time, anyway 😉

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20 Responses to Air Cancer Flight 102: Fun and Games with Nurse Needle

  1. Leo Frair says:

    I don’t unremarkably comment but I gotta state appreciate it for the post on this perfect one : D.

  2. I like this website very much, Its a really nice place to read and receive information.

  3. It always seems crass and callous to simply leave a few words as if I can understand your bravery and acceptance, somehow wishing that my comments mean more than idle encouragement or passive support. All of us are dreamers, seldom seeking out what frightens us and accepting the inevitable, but not you. Your life is a reality not only in words but effects that are touchable and personal to me. It’s easy sitting here reading your words and offering empathy but it never seems enough nor adequate, nor right, for a virtual friend. My hope is that they are of some kind of help, be it distant and intangible but nevertheless worthy, not simply paltry and worthless. My heart, or what’s left of it, goes out to you Candice.

    • cwc6161 says:

      My dear Danny, please know that your words — be they few or be they many — are a constant beacon of warmth, friendship, and healing for me and I appreciate them more than you ever will know! My blog and the silly little words within are a Godsend, not only because they give me a means of triumphing over “the Big C,” but even more so because they allow me to connect with truly wonderful friends such as yourself 🙂 Thank you so very much for that!

  4. Lynne Favreau says:

    So long as you don’t “touch base” with me everything will be fine. No one is touching my base.
    I have little bouncy veins, hence the port which I loved. Every surgery I’ve had the past few years we had to call IV therapy to get an IV started. When I was having the port taken out the nurse wouldn’t even try once to get a vein and they (surgeon and staff) were waiting for me. An anesthesiologist who happened to be standing there came in all nonsense and shoved it in-doesn’t bother me to have them poke around a bit to find one. He was the hero of the moment.

    • cwc6161 says:

      Wow, Lynne, you did need a port! I promise to show my good veins more respect by keeping them nice and full of water 🙂 Yesterday was another good demonstration of how good my oncology nurses are. As I mentioned in my post it was far less horrible than it sounded, but nevertheless it wouldn’t be my first choice of things to do on any given day!

  5. egad. I’m known for uncooperative veins. I hearby solemnly swear to “tank up” before procedures. Good advice. Sorry you had to be the pin cushion.

    • cwc6161 says:

      Yep, tanking up — I’ll have to remember that term! lol — is the best advice. ’twas my own, dang fault (duh). But it made for a good blog post — I kept telling Ann that all day — she loves the notoriety 😉

  6. madisonjohns says:

    Okay so I can’t type today. I meant coffee and tea are diuretics, and won’t help hydrate you.

    • cwc6161 says:

      Why can’t you type today?? And no worries about hydration, I just got up awhile ago and I’m on my 2nd 16-ounce glass of wonderful water 🙂

  7. madisonjohns says:

    You do know that coffee and tea in fact are not “considered a diuretic, which is of course is not going to help hydrate you. Have they thought about placing in a pic line? Many patients veins become bad over time. Hugs and smiles, prayer, and well wishes sent you way.

    • cwc6161 says:

      lol yeah, I know, madison re: coffee and tea. My “little voice” actually was telling me I should be drinking water, too. But I ignored it. Never good to ignore that little voice! I had a PICC line last year in the hospital and it was a Godsend, considering how many times they “stuck” me daily. No discussion of a port, yet, now but it may come to that sooner or later. Thanks for all the well-wishes 🙂

  8. ClaireMcA says:

    Cringe, I hate when that happens, my daughter suffered big time with this and the nurses did terrible things to get enough blood, squeezing her arm, restraining her while she was crying in pain and I was no help at all, it was like torture and I was not happy with it at all, it caused me such emotional pain, I had difficulty breathing properly for two days. I wonder if dehydration was a problem?

    • cwc6161 says:

      oh, so sorry, Claire! I honestly don’t know how pediatric nurses do what they do. I worked one week in a pediatric intensive care ward and another week in intensive care out of 12 weeks during the summer CNA job before college. To this day, I remember those poor, sick kids and having to restrain them:( Dehydration may well have been your daughter’s problem. Water keeps the veins “plumped up” and more easy to access. A lesson I’ll not forget! 🙂

      • ClaireMcA says:

        And thanks to you, one I am now aware of. Giving an injection is a piece of cake compared to having blood taken.

      • cwc6161 says:

        lol Claire, believe it or not — I am a horrible needle phobic. When I thought I was going to have to have injections in addition to my chemo (which hasn’t happened, thank goodness!!) I was beside myself! Weird, I know.

  9. Archon's Den says:

    Damn, I HATE, “my bad”. I didn’t think you’d sink to using it. I’ll generously assume it’s a one-time colloquialism, judiciously used for effect….orrr, I could just ignore it, and mind my own business.

    • cwc6161 says:

      ummm, you probably should just ignore it 😉 This may not be the last! In any case, I ain’t promisin’ nuttin’! Still luv ya, though 🙂

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