She lay in bed, both wrists and arms hurting from the numerous abortive efforts to drain her. She was almost immobile, not because she couldn’t move, but because there was no cause to. There was a pool of of her blood collecting on the floor just behind her, but she was uncaring, it meant nothing to her at this point, it was unimportant. She glanced at the man standing next to her, watching her, and then looked away again. He was merely doing his job, she understood that. She also knew she would get through this……
The other day after a brief sojourn away, I went into London to further my quest for increased bionicity. On the way there I Whatsapped my friend J to update her as I had missed my intended train. I had undergone this procedure once before, and it had gone without a hitch so I had no misgivings about having it done again.
By the time the 8th or 9th attempt to insert a cannula into my wrists, my arms, anywhere, had failed, I was so over the whole thing. I told the nurses to stick the procedure, I was willing to go ahead with my surgery without having it. I was in pain, tired (partly from my sojourn as I had arrived days earlier) and plainly fed up. I have a question for you medical folk. When trying to draw blood, why do you insist on saying ‘sharp scratch’? It is not a sharp scratch when a needle is inserted into your skin without any anaesthetic, and it is certainly not a sharp scratch when the said needle is jiggled around in your flesh in order to get a vein to bleed! It frickin’ hurts!
So my nurse Neil goes ‘Okay, we’ll leave the cannula for now, and just bleed you’ except my veins didn’t hear him, and just wouldn’t bleed. After a bout of tears during which he hugs me, I tell Neil I’m done, and he leaves me to rest, to recover. A different nurse appears with a heat pad to warm up my arm, she thinks part of the problem is the fact I’m cold, so she hopes by warming me up, they’ll get something out. I’m beyond caring, I tell her I’m not interested.
‘I hear you’re having a rough time of it’. I look up from where I’m seated, and there is J right in front of me. It is a total surprise, I had no idea she was coming. I ask her if she had an appointment as well, but no, she came all the way just to see me. I well up in tears again, and she hugs me, and speaks encouraging words. She’s been through this before, so she knows how I feel. She also knows they can use an ultrasound machine to locate a viable vein instead of playing ‘hunt the vein’ and poking me ceaselessly. And now I know too. So I tell the nurse, she can have one last try once my arm is warmed up, but no more. After studying my arm, she decides not to try, and opts for the ultrasound. J has brought me a bowl of frozen efo, and I’m looking forward to eating it once I get back home.
J stays with me while things get prepped, and talks me out of getting a sedative for the procedure. She says I’ll be okay with a local anaesthetic. She leaves when I’m called in, and it turns out she was right. So the line is inserted, all the blood they need is drawn, and everyone’s happy.
So what is this procedure? It is a blood exchange transfusion. Old blood is drained, and new blood transfused. The line is inserted into the femoral artery. Here’s a picture. Not just any picture. A picture of me. Okay, of my thigh. Or part thereof.
And here is a picture of the machine that does the business.
Oh, the blood on the floor earlier? That was the old blood, the drainage tube wasn’t connected to the bag properly, and so it went on the floor, and was promptly cleaned up. Nothing sinister, just felt like adding drama.
I’m back! Thanks for stopping by