Do you hate needles? Are you afraid of the iv? Are you a difficult intravenous stick? Learn what to do if you are scared to death of having an iv placed before surgery.
For many patients, the “iv” can be the scariest part of having surgery. Sometimes they have a fear of needles or perhaps they have had a difficult experience in the past. Having a little background information may help the iv placement be a little less scary to you.
An iv refers to an intravenous line, which is a way of giving medicines and fluids into a vein. Veins are vessels that carry blood from your body back to your heart. They are located all over your body. You can often see or feel them in your hands, arms, feet, and neck. Some are tiny and others are much larger, like the veins that connect directly to your heart.
But why do you have to have an iv? An iv is needed to give you all types of medicines including anesthesia. And the bag of fluid connected to the iv is used to move this medicine along in your vein. Some medicines may be given by mouth, under the tongue, into the nose, or even other less desirable places. But we need medicines to act quickly, and an iv is the way to get this done.
If you haven’t had an iv before, try not to worry too much about it. I know this is easier said than done, but the nurse or doctor placing the iv can use numbing medicine. This is similar to the medicine you may receive at the dentist’s office. It can be placed in the skin where the iv will be started and usually stings for just a second or two.
The iv may be placed in many different areas. But not to fear, the person placing the iv will use the area that they feel will be the most successful. In other words, the area that will be the least uncomfortable for you, taking into account the type of surgery you are having. For instance, the “best” vein you have may be in your right hand, but if you are having right carpal tunnel surgery, the iv cannot be placed in that hand.
If you are reading and thinking to yourself, I wish it was that simple for me, this part is for you. It is possible that healthcare personnel have a difficult time placing an iv into your veins. This can be due to a variety of reasons that are often out of your control. But patients who are obese or have used iv drugs in the past are notoriously more difficult for iv placements. Others have unfortunately had to go through multiple iv chemotherapy treatments or frequent iv treatments for things such as kidney disease. Something common to every patient undergoing elective surgery is that you have been fasting and this makes your veins less full and visible.
If you have been told or you know that you are a “difficult stick” (I don’t like this term), what can you do? I suggest that you tell the person up front putting in your iv that it has been difficult for you in the past. Tell them where you had a successful iv before and often that vein will still be available. You can ask for the most experienced person around to place the iv if you want. This is definitely not an unreasonable request.
If you are someone who has a fear of needles, don’t worry, this is pretty common. Not many people really like needles, but for some patients, even the thought of needles causes severe anxiety. Once again, you are not the only person that feels this way and we understand what you are going through. We have an assortment of techniques we can use to help make the experience the least uncomfortable for you. Don’t forget to ask for the person who successfully placed your iv last time. They may be around that day or night.
I hope this helps you even if you hate needles!
Category: Day of surgery