Tips for when its Difficult to Find Veins

Between blood tests, IVs, and treatments and medications, a mesothelioma patient can begin to feel like a pincushion. What’s more, chemotherapy can cause veins to collapse, which often leads to even more pricks. Here are some tips to make it easier to find veins that have collapsed due to cancer treatment.

  • Sometimes, patients are given the option of having a “port” installed. If you are presented with this choice, opt for the port. Not only are injections less painful with a port, they also make it much easier to find the vein. Most patients find that arm ports are more comfortable than chest ports.
  • Most commonly, nurses use veins at the elbow because these veins are closer to the surface of the skin and easier to see. If this is not an option, nurses usually move to the veins on the back of the hand. While these veins may be easier to see, they are also closer to nerves, so be prepared for a bit more discomfort.
  • Give your veins some time to rest: request that nurses use one arm one day, and the other arm the next. The extra rest can help buy more time before veins collapse.
  • Veins don’t show up as well in patients who are dehydrated, so be sure to drink lots of water before a vein needs to be accessed.
  • Pump your fist to help make veins “pop”.
  • If a tourniquet is being used, make sure it is placed above the mound of the bicep and that it is tight enough.
  • Ask the nurse to wrap a hot, moist towel around the arm to be used. A hairdryer or a soak in warm water can also help inflate veins.
  • If you are in for a hospital stay, ask if they can leave the IV in for longer.
  • If a nurse has pricked you three times without finding a vein, request the help of another nurse. Every hospital has an “IV team” of nurses who are especially adept at finding veins.