How to Prep Veins for Infusions and Blood Draws

How to Prep Veins for Infusions and Blood Draws
The bruises on my arms have finally faded since my Remicade (infliximab) infusion a little more than a week ago. My nurse eventually found an agreeable vein after three tries. At least only one nurse had to try this time. Sometimes, my infusion nurses play pin the tail on the donkey with me until someone succeeds. Fortunately for them, I don’t mind being poked more than once. I’d rather have the nurse give up on a vein and stick me again than dig the needle around in my arm to get the vein to cooperate, which usually leaves me with a much larger, tender bruise. After decades of blood draws and IV sticks, I know I’m a phlebotomist’s nightmare. To begin with, I’m petite, so my veins are small. Unless the phlebotomist or nurse is a seasoned expert, he or she almost always uses a butterfly needle instead of a straight needle to draw my blood. Second, my veins tend to roll or move to the side once a needle is inserted. When this happens, the nurse usually moves the needle around to manipulate the vein back into position. Nurses have also told me I have “valvy” veins. If the needle hits a valve, it might blow the vein, rendering it unusable. Finally, I’ve been poked and prodded so many times that most of my “good” veins have scar tissue, so nurses don’t like to use them. I do have some big veins along my wrist and the crooks of my arms. However, because I work on my computer during the 2.5-hour infusion, placing the IV in these areas is problematic because I’m constantly bending my wrists and elbows. I can't do anything about the size and condition of my veins. But I have learned some tips to prepare for blood draws and IV sticks, including being hydrated, using warmth, and constricting blood flow. Hydration Hydration is the key to
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  1. Hi, Joyce. My doctor has never discussed those options with me. However, personally, I would rather not have to worry about the maintenance and the possibility of infection with my being on two immunosuppressants.

  2. Natalie Bolli says:

    Hi Emmeline,

    My son has the same issues; rolly, valvey veins. I highly recommend the heat on your arm as you are heading up to the infusion if possible. This has made a big difference. Also, I tell them every time about the rolling veins and valves and it has helped them plan accordingly. We have now had multiple infusions in a row with just one poke and no digging around.

    Thanks for the idea on the blood pressure cuff! I would have him open and close his hand in a fist to get that blood flowing.

    Good luck!

    • Hi, Natalie. Fortunately, I have the same infusion nurses every time I go in, so they know my veins are problematic. If a nurse I’ve never had is subbing for them, I try not to mention my vein issues because usually when I do, I end up jinxing them, and they miss! I don’t let them know unless they miss the first time.
      I also do the opening/closing of my fist, but I’m going to try to keep my arms warm next time and see if that helps.

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