Friday, 28 March 2008

Vein Hunter

I'm a vein hunter. No, not an assassin of those with Narcissistic tendencies, but instead a pursuer of veins. My time in A+E has turned me into some sort of sadistic predator. My chosen weapon is a venepuncture needle. I stalk, like a cheetah on the savannah, just waiting for the chance to pounce. Every patient is a potential victim, but each with their own particular characteristics. A young man with magnificent engorged vessels entwining his arms - it would be almost too easy to swipe two bottles. Or you’d think so, until he begins to whimper in desperation, "I don't like needles", but it's too late I think, as the blood begins to flow and I reassure him; "almost done". A middle-aged man with similarly bulging veins, barely even flinches as my weapon penetrates his flesh with the greatest of ease. But these examples are like feeding meat to a crocodile, it is too easy, where is the fun, the challenge, the adventure?"

Go and bleed the lady in 9" my heart flickers, slightly nervous knowing that the 86 year old's veins are likely to be buried deep. This is more like it, I think to myself as I cleanse my hands in the ritualistic sacrifice of bacteria. I assemble my weapon and approach, pausing briefly to introduce myself, a mere interruption to what lies ahead. I strap on my tourniquet and begin to look for a potential victim. Like rabbits hidden in a burrow there is nothing, not even the scent of prey. I ask the patient to squeeze her hand while I gently feel my way around. Still nothing. Am I to fail at the first hurdle? I retrace my steps, carefully examining for the hint of blood streaming through a vein, hidden deep. YESSS! What's that, invisible to the eye and barely palpable, the mere hint of a vein? My fingers tell me its exact position and I load the needle. It is time.

Majestically, I recheck the vein, I panic as momentarily it's gone, but no, there it is. Oblivious to the world around me, I almost fail to hear the elderly lady announce "the district nurses always have trouble, they can never find any blood" - this just encourages me! I get into position, needle poised, "sharp scratch" I announce as I ease forward through the skin. With practice you can feel the needle puncture the vein, you think it's there. You ease back the syringe plunger and without delay a gush of red pours into the tube. You've hit the jackpot, first time too, perfect - but it’s not over yet. You've got to change the tubes, keep the needle perfectly positioned and finally, withdraw the needle. All in all a triumph, a perfect hit, another victim.

It's become a game, no longer challenged by the simplest of veins, only the difficult ones give the same satisfaction, the same feeling of achievement, the same buzz. I'm a vein hunter!

14 comments:

GrumpyRN said...

I am middle aged, I have poor veins, I have a low pain threshold, I have been stuck by many doctors and student doctors, I have seen and heard it all before, you hurt me and I will punch you. Now what are you going to do???

Noel said...

That was hilarious. It almost sounds fun. And to think all this time I've been taking blood and thinking it was a chore. My A&E rotation starts Monday, maybe I should embrace the hunt.

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

That. was. awesome.

the little medic said...

grumpyrn - If i'm brave enough, then you're the Holy Grail. The adult buffalo to my cheetah, a challenge with a big risk attached but imagine the rewards!

noel - definitely play the game, livens things up if nothing else :)

xavier - thanks :)

ditzydoctor said...

you go tlm!!!! :D must admit i'm rather lousy at blood taking still. ah well. practice makes perfect!

Elaine said...

Hah, from a patient with poor veins, venepuncture is nothing, NOTHING do you hear, but getting arterial blood taken is horrible - I've only once had it done beautifully...

Law Minx said...

EWWW, dont you use the vacutainer system?!

jessica said...

Congrats!!

What happens when the patients are so nervous that their veins constrict and to get blood out you have to squeeze them? (You definitely don't want to know.)

embryonic docteur said...

hello dear vein hunter. so now you can cannulate in your sleep ehn?

didnt hear you talk about getting blood sample fron those tiny helpless beings called neo-nates. not easy abi?. have you done your )+G, Paedo posting and MB?.

i'm a female nigerian(scared yet?) 500leve student.

take kia

dr_dyb said...

In Glasgow, punching a member of medical staff tends to earn you one back.....

NB. As a Med Student, i have merely observed the above, and received tips from FY doctors on how to not leave any marks or damage anything.

GrumpyRN said...

dr_dyb, I know, I spent time in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Victoria's A&E departments. But I am a big wuss as I once asked a doctor to apply some lignocaine gel to my wrist when he was about to take an ABG, he refused and just did the job - and it hurt! But recently had blood taken by an FY2 who was digging and digging and digging and when I complained she was hurting me she told me she wasn't - how did she know? Honestly, as much as I wanted to I did not hit her - I didn't even swear at her.

Calavera said...

I love this entry! I felt the exact same way when, by the end of third year, I had got venepuncture down to a fine art!

Love love love this post!

Sue said...

You'd have fun with me then! Last time anyone tried to take blood it took two FY2s and 10 attempts!! Normally at least 4 attempts to canulate, been 8+ in the past and ended up with the line in my foot... and ABG's are soooooo painful. Owww

You wanna practice on me now??!!

Anonymous said...

What if you try to donate blood and they find the vein but no blood comes out? My 17 year old daughter tried to donate blood today at a scheduled blood drive and they were unable to draw any blood. Apparently they stuck her "20" times and were unsuccessful. Absoulutely no blood was drawn. She had blood drawn a year ago when she was hospitalized for an apendectomy with no difficulties... She's very disappointed/upset that she wasnt able to donate. What would cause this to happen?