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08. Mental Health Tips and Tricks with the CMHA – Gutsy Convos
Growing up with a chronic illness, I have been stabbed my fair share of times. Since, starting biologic medication over 4 years ago, I have had had infusions every month or two consistently. On top of this, I have blood work done frequently to check my blood levels. For many years I have also suffered with anemia (iron-deficiency) from blood loss due to my Crohn’s disease and with that came IV iron infusions. Since, having my surgery in July 2018, my iron levels have gone up, but I still need to be monitored for iron frequently. All and all, I have been stabbed many times and because of this my veins have taken a beating. So, I thought I would share with you what I do to ensure an easy infusion and blood draw process.
When it comes to blood draws and infusions, prep is everything. So, if you know you will be getting blood work or an infusion, start prepping in advance. Two days before, the day before, and the day of, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink a minimum of half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water. So, if you way 130 pounds, you should drink a minimum of 65 ounces of water a day.
In order to stay hydrated, you should also try adding an electrolyte drink two days before, the day before, and the day of. I personally have G2 and this usually does the trick. But, sometimes I will make my own DIY electrolyte drink with coconut water and this works too. Another great alternative would be Pedialyte because this is a balanced electrolyte drink. I find that adding an electrolyte drink in the few days leading up to an infusion and blood draw really helps with ease of insertion.
REST & NUTRITION
The night before a blood draw or infusion you want to make sure that you have been well rested as much as possible. When your body is tired it does not function to its maximum capacity which can cause problems for your infusion and blood draw. In addition, you want to make sure that you have eaten something before your infusion or blood draw (unless you need to fast for the procedure). Try to have a healthy meal before hand that is low in added sugar or salt. If you have a really salty meal before hand this will dehydrate you and make it more difficult to find your veins. In addition, it is important to eat something to reduce your risk of being fatigued or light headed during/after your infusion or blood draw.
On the day of my infusion or blood draw I like to try to get my body moving in some way. This could be as simple as going for a little walk or even a workout before hand. Getting your body moving helps to promote blood circulation which can make it a little easier for your veins to pop.
Heat is a really good stimulant for your veins and it will help them pop, therefore making it easier for the nurse to find the vein. I like to make sure that I am warm when I go for infusions or blood draws. I will bring a big scarf or wrap to put around me since I need to have a short sleeve. I will also ask for a heating pad, especially before infusions. Most places will have these and it will promote circulation in your arms which will make it easier for the veins to pop. If you don’t have access to a heating pad, there are a few exercises you can do to get your blood moving. Gently rub up and down your arm with your hand, move your arm around, open and close your fist, and just try to create some additional blood flow in your arm. If you are really cold, try doing a few jumping jacks or jumping up and down a little. It may seem silly, but it will help to get your heart pumping and therefore your blood moving.
ROTATE VEINS (IF POSSIBLE)
To reduce the risk of blowing a vein, try to rotate which vein site you pick. I try to alternate between 2-3 spots on my left arm (since I have nothing on my right arm). I typically tell the nurse before that I would prefer a specific spot if possible. Majority of the time, the nurse will try to be accommodating and appreciates your input. It makes their life easier if you tell them what spots usually work.
After your infusion or blood work it is important to do a few key things to avoid bruising. Sometimes bruising is inevitable, especially if the nurse had to fish around for the vein, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the bruising. The first thing to do is to ensure you are adequately rehydrating. Be sure to drink plenty of water and an electrolyte drink after an infusion or blood draw. In addition, make sure that you do not carry anything overly heavy for a few hours after your infusion or blood draw with the arm that you were poked with. Finally, you want to make sure you apply adequate pressure to the site after the needle is removed for about a minute.
Overall, these are my tips for an easier blood draw/infusion process for people with bad veins. I have struggled with bad veins for years now, and this set of tools has really helped me, so I hope that they are useful for you as well. If you want to learn more about 8 tips for a successful infusion day, check out the post below!
QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR NUMBER ONE TIP FOR INFUSION/BLOOD DRAW DAY?
Leave your thoughts in the comments down below or on my latest Instagram post.
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Your trusty, gutsy gal,