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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

It’s a Bloody Shame!

Published February 10, 2009 9:18 AM by Valerie Newitt

When a story on the art of drawing blood was discussed at an editor's planning meeting, I couldn't get my punctured arm up fast enough to volunteer.

I am, indeed, one of those walking wounded who has suffered enough slings and arrows - and needlesticks - to want every nurse from here to eternity to become an expert at needlework.

Years ago, I was in the unenviable position of being a cancer patient, requiring several hospitalizations, surgery, radiation and inpatient stints of 24/7 chemo. It was bad enough to lose my hair, my appetite and my sense of identity for that period of time. While chemo made me sick and radiation took a toll on my gastric system, the single worst overriding "lousy" memory I maintain revolves around needle sticks.

I am one of those people who have "bad veins." Geez, why me? Nurses cringe when they tap my arm and realize they have to somehow draw blood from this human stone.

On one occasion while an inpatient, I was treated to 12 consecutive sticks and still my blood sample remained locked inside of my body. On a subsequent outpatient jaunt to a blood-drawing station, I was stuck 5 times then sent home and told I was "too dry" and I'd better come back another day.

In time, it seemed to me this part of the "cure" was almost as bad as the illness that plagued me.

Well, in time, I have made a complete recovery and proudly have a "cured" stamp on my rump like a good ol' Virginia ham. But I'm still a tough stick, even though I've learned to hydrate days beforehand and seek out only those individuals who claim to be "experts" at drawing.

If you have any great tips to offer other nurses who have to deal with the likes of me, share them. They'll thank you, I'll thank you and perhaps the "cure" will be a little easier to handle.


I have learned via IV nurses that warm packs can be the best tool ever in bringing out stubborn veins.  Not only does it help the vein to fill, but it softens the skin around the site to make the vein easier to palpate.

Hope this helps!

Lorettajo Kapinos, ER - RN February 11, 2009 9:21 AM
Springfield MA

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