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May I vent..

smalldoggroomer's picture
Posts: 1181
Joined: May 2010

Yesterday I went for my port placement. I am very happy that I now have it. But It was the worst day I have had in a very lone time. And I don't think it should have happened.

 I arrived at the surgery center @ 7: 30 am for my 7:45 arrival time. filled out all the paper work even though I had done it on line the day before. They took me back shortly after that. Get undressed all the regular stuff. Then they needed to get a IV all standard right. I told the nurse that I have lymphedema in my right arm. And I have had chemo in my left for the last 4 months and the veins were shot and they haven't been able to get iv's in it in over a month. Plus my arm is very bruised and sore.

Well The nurse started with my left arm and hand. She tried from my FINGERDS all the way up as far as they go. Plus she tried either a 16 or 18 gauge in my wrist!! That one squirted her and across the room. I never moved but I did tell her she was hurting me quiet a bit. And that that needle was to big. She said no you tensed up that is why it blew.

By that time there was other nurses at least two at a time trying to get the IV in. They even tried my feet and ankles. (ouch ) They wanted to use my right arm I said it is ok as long as they didn't use a tourniquet on it. Well some of them talked about that. And then they told me THEY decided it wouldn't hurt just this one time to use a tourniquet. I felt like I was being blamed in some way. I don't think they liked it when I said that is my decision NO tourniquet on my right arm. And still a few times they just tried to put one on. And seemed annoyed with me when I said NO tourniquet!!

So this went on for 2&1/2 hours. Still No IV in. Then in comes the Anesthesiologist. He is going to put it in my neck. UGH! I asked why they couldn't put me out for this. I was in alot of pain by this time.

I tried very hard to stay nice. But then I lost my temper alittle. I told the Dr that if they couldn't get the IV this try I was leaving there would be no Port today. I had been stuck 22 times by this point. My arms are all black and my feet and my neck. So the Dr with the ultrasound said he got it in the neck. I could see the ultra sound and I know he didn't. I use to do this with animals. ( they didn't know that ) His needle was pushing on the vein but did not penetrate it. He even said to the nurse. Is this the longest needle you have it's to short. So then they took me in the OR and gassed me down and put it in the rest of the way.

So I got the port in finally!!

I don't know why a patient should have to go through all of that pain. If they have these problems they should have just gone to plan B Gas me and go for the neck. I think what happened to me yesterday was horrible and I pray it never happens to any one else. Plus there should be a nurse there that can get a IV without a tourniquet!

I am so sore today. Glad I have a couple days before chemo LOL.

Thank you for letting me vent I feel alittle better now. Oh and I will be filling out the Survey!!


dianehelen's picture
Posts: 131
Joined: Nov 2012

WOW That is really unconscionable, I am so sorry you had to go thru that. Was this a big city type hospital or a more local place. NOT that that should even matter, just sometimes the bigger more state of the art hospitals may have better procedures. Why did you not have a port put in at the beginning instead of having to deal with the arm sticks? I thought ports were pretty standard.

Anyway, I hope you have a healing , restful day today.

And I would not only do their survery, Id write a very firm letter to the corporation that owns/runs that facility, as well as maybe even a consumer watchdog organization. No person should have to go thru that ever.

Please feel better

smalldoggroomer's picture
Posts: 1181
Joined: May 2010

I couldn't get a port in the beginning because my cancer had come back in my lungs and I wasn't well enough to be put under.

SIROD's picture
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

Dear Kate,

I am very sorry that this happened to you.  It happened to me a lot before I finally figured how it was going to be done.

My first experience before BC,  the nurse used me as a pin cushion.  I nearly fainted.   After BC, I didn't use my left arm.  In my case, I did have two full lymph node dissections:  level 1 lymph nodes with the mastectomy,  then with a regional tumor all levels 2 lymph nodes & some of  level 3 were removed.   That is a lot of lymph nodes that are gone.  I have had 4 bouts of cellulitis on that arm which required hospitalization.  I always state that "you will not touch this arm, I will walk out of here first".  I do look at them and they know I mean it.

I've had the same experience, when the nurse, the supervisor and two anesthesiologist couldn't access a vein with the doctor pacing back and forth knowing I was blowing her schedule for that day.  The anesthesiologist finally said to me, "ok, we do it your way, tell us what to do".  Now I don't give them that opportunity, two strikes and their out, find me a good phlebotomist or a nurse preferably one that works on babies.  I have seen them over the years, their frustration with my veins.  If I was a table, they would have kicked me.  It's not my fault.

Today, my first words are:   "I am a hard stick, you can't use my left arm, the right arm is it.  Two tries and your out, now  you will need either a  hot, wet towel or use those little hot packs".  I keep myself warm, a hot blanket, even wear a coat if you have too.  I show them where they might access a vein.  I now know locally who is good and who isn't.   I do hydrate myself.  I drink water to the point that another swallow and I will be sick.  I have permission for water usage for ct scans and the last time I had surgery.  If I'm not hydrated my veins collapse.

I won't let the mediocre techs, nurses near me. 

This is a fact of life, people with lymph node dissections, lymphedema, those with small veins, hidden veins should have a good nurse or phlebotomist.  When I go for a ct scan, I use the same place every time, I go to the cancer center and request the best nurse they have.  If she isn't in, I go to the blood lab and request the best phlebotomist they have.  

Your good now with the port, keep it forever.  To late for me in that department.

Please complain about your treatment.  They had no right to make you feel like the culprit due to their incompetency.

I am so very sorry for your treatment and you came to the right place to vent.  We understand, those of us who are hard sticks.


New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

I am very sorry. You should not suffer because of unprofessional staff.

I have had similar problem when they did bone biopcy. Now I am trying to be accertive, while probably need to be better.

Yesterday i had PET/CT (Doris I listen, done this year on Dec 28, took images/CD just in case.

Now I am asking about needle size only 22G for me!!! Plus plow infusion rate for a contrast (yesterday asked 3 times until they adjusted.

Can we buy hot packs? they do not have them at imaging facility, I did ask. Nurse tried , and tried, I told him to use a different site, eventially got it on my hand.

I am going to complain to my doctor.

From my experience the  medical services have been deteriating compare to 4 years ago. this time around I am very dissapointed in medical services from the same institution, wondering what is the reason behind it

SIROD's picture
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

Yes, you can buy them.  I had one given to me years ago to use at late season soccer games.  Someone gave it to me as a joke.

However, if you have a place where you can have them stick the needle in before the ct scan, you might go there.  I now go to my CancerCare place and I arrange my ct scan to when the nurse I like is working.  The ct scan place where I go don't have a seperate room to find a vein, they do it in the room where the scan is located.  The room is to cold for me and my veins go awol.

Your question about medical services deteriating.  Your in for the long haul and notice all the on going problems institutions have.  The first time around your hit hard and numb.  You don't notice, your more into yourself.   When you go all the time, the flaws show up a lot more than the first time.  My take on it.  Here is the information:

I googled "Hot Pack for hands"   and clicked on an image that stated "heat factory hands" and it's the one I had and what they use at the blood lab.   They do show a small single one as you go down the page.  This is what it states:

These Heat Factory Hand Warmers come in a pack of 12 pairs and are small enough to slide into gloves, mittens, pockets, Heat Factory headwear - anywhere you want heat.

As soon as they're exposed to air, they become activated and produce over 10 hours of warmth; plus these small packs are the perfect size to carry in luggage or gear bags.

These hand warmers are safe to use, odorless, non-toxic, and biodegradable.

Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010



An alternative to buying warmers is making one for yourself.



Sew a bean bag sized square with woven cotton fabric, leave a small hole.  Fill the square with rice, about 3/4 full.  Sew the hole shut...you now have a warm or cold compress.  I keep a couple in the freezer for cold compresses.  For a hot compress microwave for 30 seconds.  For me, after 30 seconds it is too hot to apply directly to skin.  I have to wrap it in a towel, then apply.



salls41's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2012

every time I have to go for labs now myself for this reason. I won't let them use my right arm and I have had so many surgeries and IV's over the past 3 months my left arm just won't give any! I have a lab appt in two weeks and I am already stressing over it. I wanted to keep my port forever but breast surgeon said no that there were too many issues with infection in keeping one that is not accessed more regularly than every three months so they took it out when I had my bi-lateral. Frown

Posts: 3645
Joined: Aug 2009

My port is still in and has been since Aug '09 with all my Drs approval.  You just go in every month for a flush.  Some Drs say to flush evTX we woillery 6 weeks but the one that schedules my flushes says every month because that's what the manufacturere says to do.  When I hit 5 yrs post TX we are gooing to talk about it coming out.

I have great veins so never have problems with 'sticks' - other than with total imcompetents.  The only time it was used for a blood draw was when it was being flushed the same day as I needed a draw so it only made sense while the RN was flushing it she did the draw at the same toime.

Wokiksuye cankpe opi


TexasCharlie's picture
Posts: 76
Joined: Nov 2012

I am so sorry you had to go through that torture. My wife was a phlebotomist for years and was one of the ones they always called for the hard sticks. I do know that she never would have been party to the kind of incompetence you have related here.

The important thing now is, you have your port, and believe me, I am so grateful to have mine.

punkinpie's picture
Posts: 18
Joined: Jul 2012

OMG Kay. That was torture. I am glad you were able to get the port, but WOW. I would definately let the facility know about your experience.

Kylez's picture
Posts: 3765
Joined: May 2009

I'm so sorry Kay.  I am glad however that you did finally get the port. 


Lots of hugs, Kylez

Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

Kay, you are so very patient.  I cannot imagine waiting through 22 pokes...I would have politely said 'this clearly isn't working today.  I will reschedule.'  I am glad you finally got your port though, I hope you find it as beneficial as I find mine!

I am glad you are going to complain, no one should have to go through that!

If they didn't prescribe it, ask for some EMLA cream.  It has lidocane and another numbing agent.  I apply it liberally about an hour before my appointments, cover it with a square of plastic wrap, and viola! no pain when it is time to access my port!


I hope chemo continues to go well for you!



abrub's picture
Posts: 1843
Joined: Mar 2010

albeit, politely.  Facilities need to know where there are problems, or they cannot fix them.

After my recent experiences where I had a pre-op nurse's call that was replete with incompetence, I reported it, and the nursing services manager was very glad to be apprised of the problems.

Similarly, after my last hospitalization, where there had been several significant errors and problems, I wrote a letter, copied to my surgeon, of what I found both good and bad.  I got excellent response from the hospital, and my surgeon was very glad that I wrote.  He, too, made sure that the right people saw my letter.

It is one thing to complain and vent, another to let those people involved know.  When we write up our issues, we make it better for everyone who comes after us (and ourselves, if and when we go back.)


What you went through was horrific.  I'm glad it's over and done.  Now let's see what we can do to avoid it happening to someone else.



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