Saturday, February 20, 2010
I am a small person with bird bones. My wrist is five inches around; I wear a size 4 1/2 ring. I can't purchase a watch without a picture of Hannah Montana on it, and I buy bracelets to use as anklets.
I have correspondingly small veins. Watching people draw my blood has always amused me, because I have a strong sadistic streak and no needle phobia whatsoever. I like seeing sweat on the brow of the phlebotomist responsible for getting blood out of me and into that vial. It just doesn't happen without hard work.
Typically, the way it goes is the first tech pokes around a while, moving the needle in and out, muttering about tiny veins until she either pops one or freaks out. She then calls the specialist with the butterfly needle who has the finesse to start the flow. Even when I try to make it easy - drink lots of water and wear warm clothing to "plump the veins," it's never enough to get the well pumping.
I'm so dry if I was Bella, Edward would leave me.
Back in November when I went in for my initial chemo consultation, I was quite surprised to find out that they weren't planning to put a port in. (For those who don't know, a port is small appliance installed surgically under the skin near your collarbone. It connects to a vein which allows them to administer chemo drugs without sticking you.)
Because I had lymph nodes on the right side removed, there is only my left arm available for sticking. I was certain that with a year of infusions ahead of me and only one arm to use, they were going to insist on a port. I was relieved when they said it wasn't necessary, but still, I mentioned that medical professionals in the past had difficulty getting blood from me. They all seemed convinced that they were expert enough to handle it, so who am I to argue? Maybe getting blood out and pushing chemo drugs in are two vastly different things. I had no desire for yet another surgery and subsequent scar so I wasn't going to argue to get a port.
To be clear: their plan was for me to have a year of weekly infusions in my left arm only, an arm with tiny veins, using no port.
Unsurprisingly, after 2 1/2 months, it has become increasingly difficult for the chemo nurses to access my veins. They can't seem to get the ones down near my wrist at all anymore since they "roll," and so can only use the area in my elbow, which is becoming deeply scarred.
Last week when one of my nurses spent ten minutes getting the canula in, she said, irritated, "So, what's the plan for when we can't do it anymore?"
I looked at her, surprised. I have to come up with a plan? My plan was to get a port before all of this started. Their plan was for me not to.
At this point, I intend to stick with their plan.
But, I am not one to leave people without hope. I said, "Well, when chemo is done maybe I'll try an every three week herceptin schedule and see if I have any side effects. Hopefully, that will give everything time to heal."
That leaves her six weeks to, as Tim Gunn would say, "make it work."
I watch Intervention. If a brain-dead junkie can figure out a way to inject chemicals into his veins every couple of hours for 20 years, surely a smart chemo nurse can figure it out for six more weeks?
If I really have to come up with a new plan: the space between my toes is available.
Posted by Ann aka ButDoctorIHatePink at 8:48 PM