I Hate IVs

I know I need to get a grip. Thought it was just me, but a mom friend who just had a C-section said she screamed and demanded the anesthesiologist administer the IV since she too had had a bad experience. I’m actively trying to calm myself about it even as I write. I wish they didn’t scare me, but they do.

22 thoughts on “I Hate IVs

  1. Hey Daphne,
    My husband gets IVs all the time (for a medicine he gets every 8 weeks) and if he’s lucky, they have a shot of a novocaine-type thing for him (I CAN’T REMEMBER THE NAME, but I’ll find out!) So, he may come home a little bruised, but at least he didn’t feel the three tries it took the Old Battle Axe to get that thing in there.

  2. ha!! Tears have worked for me. I had to get an iv once and the nurse just couldn’t seem to do it! I have such a fear of needles that it wasn’t too hard to start crying (yes, I’m a grown woman of 37) and sure enough – they brought in someone else who was awesome and I didn’t even feel it! So definitely don’t be afraid to work the tears!

  3. I have these teeny, tiny, itty-bitty little veins that are just… evil… to get IVs into, so I HATE getting IVs. When I was in the hospital for two weeks with my son (premature labor, bleeding, not fun…) they had to change the IV daily because my veins close up so fast!

    I really dread going to the hospital and having to get any kind of IV. Just not pleasant!

    And yes, some are so much better at it than others!

  4. I hate them too! There’s something about the thought of it, too – having a tube in my vein – that just creeps me right out. And trying to nurse a floppy brand new baby with an IV – trying to juggle the tender part of your hand or arm, and the tubes, and the baby… Oh that sucked! I was a total creep to the nurses until they took it out.

    I agree with the first comment – get some numbing stuff. When the kids get their shots they use a freezing spray on their legs so they feel it a little less.

  5. I’m a nursing student who is learning how to start IV’s, and I’ll let you know a little secret. Well, two secrets. First, get them to use lidocaine. It is an itty bitty little needle that goes just under the skin and deposits a “bleb” of numbing medication. It stings and pinches, but it is a little pinch. Then they can start the IV and all you feel is pressure.

    Second trick: Tell the nurse, “I don’t mean for this to be personal, but I am very anxious about this IV stick. I would really like for it to only happen once and be over with quickly. Are you the best stick on the floor?”

    If she says no, and most nurses are very honest and know who the best stick is, they’ll go get whoever happens to be better than them. This really shouldn’t be an issue if you’ve got the lidocaine going. I got my very first IV stick I ever tried while using lidocaine because it allowed me to be less gentle without causing the patient pain or anxiety.

    Thirdly, and this is something that is entirely in your control, find something to mentally fixate on, close your eyes, and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you start to feel like you’re going to pass out, cough forcefully (please not in the nurse’s face). It will keep your blood pressure up and often prevent you from losing consciousness. I try to pass out any time someone takes a needle to my skin, so I can personally attest to this technique.

    Yours truly in shared IV dread,
    Nursling Erin

  6. As someone who gets an IV on average twice a month (for my disease treatments) my best advice is to just know as much as you can about them, and DO NOT let the nurse put you off. If you say “I had a really bad experience last time, could you please talk me through this,” and she blows you off? Pull your arm away and demand a different nurse.

    Because I have needles in my veins so often, I know exactly what is going on. Not only do I get IV’s, but I have frequent blood draws, procedures, ect. I’ve had horrible nurses, wonderful nurses, and a really bad time when I had meningitis where I was so dehydrated they could not get an IV started without an ULTRASOUND. Knowledge and self advocation is your power. ( Why I had to be the one to suggest a PIC line when I had a BRAIN infection still beats me.) Make sure your husband is on the same page as well, because when I had my second child, he actually got rid of a nurse who was being a total bitch to me and got a good one. The thing to remember is that you have the RIGHT to ask for someone else if you don’t like what someone is doing.

    And don’t ask for lidocane as the person above me suggested. What happens when you get the tiny shot of lidocane (and it stings like a bitch) but that vein rolls and hides and they can’t get it? Then you get another shot and try again? No.

    Talk to the person giving the IV first. Tell them your concerns. If they blow you off or you get the slightest negative vibe ask for someone else and don’t give your arm out. Also…better than lidocane to help with setting IV’s is heat and hydration. The more water you got, the better your veins are going to be and the easier the IV will be to set.

    Other than the lidocane nonsense the above poster has awesome advice. I’d send you my best IV nurse…but he’s in Michigan and you ain’t.

    Good luck.

  7. i SO hear you on this. i am a complete and total FREAK when it comes to IVs. it’s my worst fear/phobia by far.

    great advice above —

    what’s worked for me =

    a) being super honest with the nurse re: my insanity and finding one that will work with/comfort me.
    b) smaller needles.
    c) constant questions re: silly things. have your husband get up-to-date on us weekly and then ask questions during the procedure: “yea, but i kind of miss jessica alba’s bangs, don’t you?” etc.
    d) something COLD on my forehead/neck
    e) juice waiting for me when it’s over
    f) COVERING IT UP when it’s over. like with a washcloth or blanket. i cannot deal looking at it once it’s in. seriously helps.

    you’ll do great!!

  8. I think you’re on the right track just being proactive about wanting a pro. With my second daughter, we scheduled a c-section and the IV was the worst part of it by a factor of 10 – or maybe 100… I don’t remember the IV with my first, probably because I was more afraid of the prospect of trying to push her out through a very small opening (relative to her head). With the second, the first woman succeeded only in battering and bruising BOTH hands. It took a second guy – the pro that you are seeking – to get it to work. BUT, he did get it in quickly and effortlessly. If you demand the best on the first go ’round, and stick to your guns, you’ll be fine. And the c-section will be fine, too! All the best. Oh yeah – DON’T WATCH the IV person. Just look away…

  9. I’m with all others, ask the nurse if she is good at this, you’ll be able to tell from her reaction. I gave blood y-day and asked my nurse and she was totally wishy washy — I’m like lady, this is voluntary, GIVE ME SOME LOVE. I said if you aint good at this please get someone else. No bruises yet!

    Best of luck to you! Can’t wait to see your boy! I am a recent convert to your site but totally addicted. Even though you have pre recorded I fully expect you’ll git on camera soon after Mr Chips arrives. I think you need us too 😉

  10. Can’t relate. At all. With my first child the pain the pictocin brought on was enough to make me tearily THANK the anesthesiologist who shoved a needle in my spine. Needle in the spine? Bring it on, the pain was that bad.

    With my second pregnancy I was terrified throughout as epidurals were not done on women unless they had ‘high risk’ pregnancies. Hmm, so having twins, one of which was breech was NOT high risk?

    Tell yourself not to worry. An IV is a cake walk compared to having the OB stick his hand up your cervix and into your womb to turn second twin. With no epidural. Yeah, THAT was painful. All the while worrying that everyone was prepped for a C-section AFTER you had delivered the first twin vaginally, my biggest fear!

    All the best to you and your baby. Try not to worry about the delivery, it is all gravy when you hold that baby in your arms for the first time 🙂

  11. The lidocaine isn’t nonsense. All veins roll. Seriously, take your finger and move your vein around right now. If it didn’t, you’d be in a world of hurt when you moved your body in the slightest way.

    Nurses know to secure a vein distally as best they can as they are sticking you. Sometimes going through the vein or hitting a valve (which can’t be seen but sometimes keeps you from putting the catheter in) is inevitable and they have to try again. This wasn’t because of the lidocaine. If the IV can’t be gotten on the first try and you have to get another site, you’re still only feeling another small stick rather than a fairly significant bore going into your skin, tissue, and vein. Two small pricks is better, in my opinion, than even one non-numb stick. People are certainly welcome to disagree, but I think calling it nonsense is blowing off a technique that is widely becoming hospital wide policy based on an emotional or opinion based reaction, rather than a factual basis.

  12. I am so glad you posted about this, and the reader comments were very helpful, especially the reminders about the right to request a) competent IV stickers and b) at least somewhat kind nurses!
    I’ll be having this baby within 3 weeks ish, and I’ve been fixating on the IV. I’m hoping to go natural, so I’ve been wondering if I can actually request no IV, especially if I come to the hospital as late as possible.

  13. wow, can’t thank you all enough for all of these comments. Love the nursing student perspective as well as other mom’s who have been through it.
    I will say Pancakes, that I would much rather have an IV than go through labor pains again. Lasts too long for me.
    I know I need to be pro active, but also use a little mind over matter!
    hope to post soon from the hospital!!

  14. I have horrible veins and when I got sick this summer and was in the hospital for a total of a month I had so many IV’s put in (not even to mention the million tries it took to get them in) it was not even cool. My best advice to you, is go in their well hydrated and nourished, then they can find and hang on to the vein easier. Also, using hot packs can make the veins pop out so they’re easier to find, so if they are having difficulty when they are trying to find the veins, you can ask for that.
    Here is my worse experience with getting an IV (and I’ve talked to many people that say getting an IV is the worst part of having a baby, so you’re not alone!):

  15. Also, if you know that a certain vein is the best (or worst) site for the IV, tell the nurse. I have a vein in my right arm that looks fabulous and all the nurses want to try that one for my IVs; that sucker rolls like a ship in a hurricane! I wised up and now I always tell the nurse, “I know it looks like it’s a good vein, but I’ll be sorry if you try it.” My nurses are all so great–they move on to the next vein without a fuss. And when you have to have lots of sticks, as I do for preventative maintenance (keeping my cancer from recurring), it’s nice to have nurses who will listen!

  16. When I had my son, the nurse that did my IV was horrible. My veins are hard to find so I always look away when they take blood or put in IVs. Anyway, the nurse was putting in the IV and having a hard time. I was really uncomfortable but feeling OK until she told my husband not to slip in the pool of blood on the floor. I then asked her to stop because I felt like I would pass out. I dread the IV for my next kid!

  17. Erin, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I have had more needles in my veins than you’ve yet seen in your nursing school experience I can guarantee it. A good IV stick hurts not at ALL, and a bad one hurts like a motherfucker. Lidocane injected beneath the skin will always burn, no matter how skilled the injector, and if a patient has never had it before there is no way to know how they will react to it. I have had lidocane many many times during minor surgical procedures, and even with a little bit, the swelling can be significant. And that’s if you’re NOT sensitive to it.

    Rather than suggesting MORE medication, being proactive and insisting on an experienced nurse is much more likely to get her the results she wants. I spend a great deal of time around nurses who administer IV’s for a LIVING. It is all they do. They set IV’s and administer everything from blood to chemo to Remicade to IV antibiotics, to just plain out hydration. I’ve yet to have one offer me lidocane before a stick. I have however had bad stick days where I’ve been sick and dehydrated and my wonderful nurses after trying and failing make sure to tell me that I have options. The last bad stick day I had my nurse Jim, who is usually one of the go-to guys when someone CAN’T get a stick, couldn’t get me in two tries. So he sat with me and said, I can try again if you want, or there are two other nurses. One is very good, but busy with a difficult stick at the moment (a pediatric oncology patient), and the other is new, and not fully tried out yet.” A good nurse will not be insulted if you ask for someone else, and like Jim will tell you all your options and his opinion and not take it personally. Sadly not all nurses are like that.

    I did not blow off your lidocane suggestion as nonsense because of an emotional or opinion-based reason as assume I did, but out of experience. I’ve been on the business end of the needle on a very continual and regular basis for the past twelve years. The only time I have ever gotten any kind of anesthetic for an IV was when I had my PIC line put in, and then they numbed my entire arm and half my chest. They didn’t even give it to me BEFORE when they first brought in the ultrasound to get my first IV in. (which blew out; prompting me to ask for the PIC line for that reason as well as the constant blood draws for tests and cultures) Now I have received lidocane VIA IV before being knocked out many times. Those drugs apparently burn going in.

    Please believe me when I say I am not being snarky or bitchy, though I probably sound a little of both; I truly don’t mean to be. And as I said, all the rest of your observations and experience and suggestions were excellent. I may not be a medical professional, but with my disease I may as well be a professional patient. I will post if I’m ever offered lidocane for an IV stick and freely admit it.

    Also, yes, of course all veins roll. However as I said…being on the business end of the needle as I have been for so long and frequently, occasionally mine get wise to the sharp things and roll and what was a nice, plump, easy to see and feel vein is no longer accessible…unless you bring in the ultrasound. And I’ve been there too.

    And so long as I’m here…CONGRATS DAPHNE!!! Welcome to your new little ankle-biter!! And congrats to Vivian for successfully becoming a big sister!!!

  18. I’m watching all your pregnancy videos all over again as my baby is due TODAY and I’m scheduled to be induced in two days – yikes!

    What I can’t believe is how you can lay like that. ‘m impressed! I feel like I’m suffocating lying on my back more than a few seconds and wish I could lay that way. I can’t wait – post-baby – to be able to lie another way than on my sides.

    Anyway, now I’m scared of IVs. Hope mine is done well! Thanks for always making me laugh though – love your site!

  19. Please remember that you are grown adults and the nurses and doctors are trying their best to do their jobs. It is not THAT painful or terrifying. The anesthesiologist may very well have more pressing issues to think about than putting your IV in (a simple procedure that may be done by a nurse or other doctor) and it may be unfair to demand this. I think its a great idea to inform them that you have a phobia and that this is difficult for you. I am sensitive to peoples’ fears and try my best to calm my patients. I understand that the feelings involved in a phobic reaction are uncontrollable. But try to refrain from really losing it/screaming/flailing/insulting/becomming irate. I see this often and its difficult to deal with. Respect goes both ways.

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