Friday, July 3, 2009

My Very First Vasovagal Reaction

I get so many injections, blood tests, and IV treatments that I am not afraid of needles or blood. There was even a period in my life that I wanted to be a doctor (the CFIDS made that dream impossible because of the physical demands of medical school).

I also happen to be unlucky enough to have small and difficult-to-find veins. This means that I am not a stranger to being poked more than once to find a good vein for blood tests or IV treatments. It's usually not a big deal when someone has missed my vein and has to try again.

Unfortunately, today my body thought otherwise.

If you read my blog from yesterday, you'll know that I've been poked a lot this week. Today the nurse was able to get the IV needle into a vein in my right arm after the first attempt. The problem was that she put the needle near where I had recently had blood drawn, so the whole area was feeling particularly sensitive. We agreed that she would remove the needle and try my other arm.

My left arm is not exactly a hot spot for easy-to-access veins.

She inserted a fresh needle into my left arm and didn't find anything. She ended up trying to move the needle around while it was still in my arm with the hope that she would hit the vein she had been aiming for. No luck.

After taking a look at my hands, she decided that she would try a nice, juicy vein in my right hand. I'm not a fan of needles in the hand because they tend to hurt more, but I really didn't want a needle back in my already sore "good vein" in my right arm. She easily got the needle in my hand.

It was right around that time that I suddenly felt dizzy, sweaty, and nauseated. I also had the sensation that my heart was beating quickly, but when I felt my pulse it was actually beating slowly. My legs felt really heavy, and I looked very pale. I told the nurse that I felt like I had to throw up.

I was having what appeared to be a textbook vasovagal reaction.

After closing my eyes and putting my feet up for a while, I started to feel better. I'm sure the IV fluids also helped. I felt pretty embarrassed because this has never happened to me before. The nursing staff was great because, after making sure I was OK, they didn't make a big deal out of it.

Between my multiple blood tests and the three pokes for my IV treatment today, I've got half a dozen fresh needle marks in my arms. It's not especially attractive. If you didn't know me, you might think I was using drugs.

Ah, well. It's all for a good cause, right? My health.

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