Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What about the Needles?

Good Morning Cancer Patients and Caregivers;
I was recently in a discussion with a newly diagnosed cancer patient about what they might expect going through treatment and I was reminded of the volumes of needles, sticking and injections I endured during the course of my treatment and surgery. Having always tried to avoid being poked with a needle, being poked with a needle to take blood, inject medication into my veins or through my chemo infusion port I had in my shoulder, I realized I was going to be stuck with a needle very frequently during the course of treatment and I had better figure out how to endure it.

What I learned was there are various poking with needles for different things and in different places on your body. For injections they go into your shoulder or hip. For infusions they may go into the veins in your arm on the inside of your elbow, inside-top of your wrist or your port. For blood samples they may poke the end of your finger or poke your vein on the inside of your elbow.No matter where or for what, I found being poked hurt and hurt like hell when the attendant wasn't very skilled at it, missed the vein, blew the vein or just was plane rough with the process. Taking off your shirt at 8:00 AM in the morning in the infusion room sitting in an infusion chair, having your port wiped with a cold antiseptic cotton wipe and being poked in the port in your shoulder with the infusion needle is not an event one begins to look forward to.

So what do you do to get through the very short and irritating discomfort that you need to endure with needles? I found several ways to make the event less discomforting. First, distract yourself during the process. I would read the news paper while being poked. Also, I found that at the time being stuck with the needle, if you inhale a large breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth during the jabbing, you don't notice it as much. When being given a shot or being stuck in your wrist or inside your elbow, the breathing works and also works with the withdrawal of the needle. Finally, to help alleviate the pain from the injection especially in the shoulder or hip, spend time rubbing the infusion point to work the bruise out. I also found that doing push-ups helped break down the bruise in the shoulder after the injection. The only thing I found with the hip injection was to rub and message the area to work it out.

I couldn't find a simple way around the torment the needle inflicted, but I figured out how to endure them and make them less tormenting. The needle is another companion you have on your cancer treatment journey.

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