Since my surgery, it seems much harder to have blood drawn for lab work. Before, my veins were easy. In fact, I have one vein in the crook of my right elbow that was my “emergency” vein. If they couldn’t make a stick anywhere else, I’d offer it up, and it was always good to go. But now I don’t seem to have any available veins anywhere. Even my emergency vein is hard to access. I’ve thought this was due to aging, but after some discussions I’m now thinking it’s more due to hydration.
Last week on vacation I had the opportunity to talk with a friend who is a pre-op nurse at a large medical center in Kansas City. From her perspective, age has nothing to do with drawing blood. However, how much weight you have can make a difference in accessibility and pain. If you have more fat on your arms, that can make finding a vein more difficult (that makes sense), and if you’re very thin the veins are easier to find, but drawing blood may be much more painful. Her best suggestion for all was HYDRATE. Even when they tell you not to eat before lab work, that doesn’t mean you can’t drink water. And for us ostomates with hydration issues, we need to be even more aware of this. Maybe even drink throughout the night when you get up to empty your pouch. She also suggested heating your veins before the blood draw – try taking a hand warmer with you to the lab. This helps to raise your veins, making them easier to find and less painful if you’re thinner. If you’re having blood drawn in a hospital setting, ask if they have a vein finder. All hospitals have them just for this purpose. And don’t be shy about asking for someone more experienced to draw your blood. If you suspect a recent graduate with a shaking needle coming at you, be assertive. Remember, you’re the one that will be bruised.