Tag Archives: medicine

Why is it so $@*% hard to get an IV in?

I have never been an easy stick when getting an IV. It most often takes about 3 sticks to get one to work, and that’s usually after 5 minutes of one of the needles being moved back and forth trying to figure out where the vein went. I think my record is 6 sticks before finding a vein, but I know that’s probably low compared to some of you.

img_4310Even the most confident IV … inputters (?) are surprised by how difficult my veins can be to find. I once ended one nurse’s streak of nearly 100 sticks on the first try. I always try to tell the person before hand that my veins are tricky and they like to play hide-and-seek, looking alright beforehand, but disappearing as soon as the needle goes in. They usually somewhat brush me off at first, but by the end they agree with me.

During my recent hospital stay, which started as a blockage, by the real reason I went in was due to severe dehydration. I’m sure you all know how much more difficult it becomes to get an IV when you’re dehydrated. The nurses could tell immediately that my veins were not going to make it easy, so I had 2 charge nurses each give it a try and both miss the vein. Then they called the IV team. And it was the same old story: Came in confident, but then not 1, but 2 blown veins later, we finally got a blood return on his third try, but fifth overall.

But what’s interesting about this, is what he asked me next.
He said, “What brought you in?”
“Dehydration,” I told him.
He replied, “Is that all?”
“I had an intestinal blockage.”
“Due to…?”
“I have an ileostomy.”
“Due to…?”
“Crohn’s disease.”
And he said, “There it is!”

ibd crohn's disease IV insertion veins ostomy stolen colonHe went on to tell me something that I am surprised nobody has ever told me before. He said that people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have notoriously difficult veins to insert an IV into. (Please don’t quote me on some of the more technical aspects here, but this is what he told me.) He said it could be due to a number of things such as some of the medications taken for IBD, getting ongoing IV meds and veins being used frequently for blood draws and other IVs, among other things. He showed me how his veins are mostly straight, but when you look at mine, they are kind of curvy and they have extra little bumps in them, what he called valves. From what I understand, when valves are not working properly, they cause blood to pool is small sections of your veins. Basically, the point of all of this is showing that having IBD can make getting an IV inserted more difficult, since the veins aren’t as straight or smooth as they usually are.

He recommended that I let anyone trying to insert an IV know ahead of time that I have Crohn’s disease, because he said it would change his approach. He said he would likely have spent a little more time picking out a vein and would also start with a smaller needle. The needle he ended up using to get my IV in he said he rarely uses on anybody because it’s so small, but he often has to use it with IBD patients

I found all of this very interesting and wondered why nobody had ever told me this before. But now I’ll be sure to always give someone trying to insert an IV a heads up of what they’re dealing with. We’ll see if they take it more seriously than my warning of tricky veins!

When your body fails you

I wanted to share something I wrote just 3 days before my son was born. This was after 3 hospitalizations for an intestinal blockage (which you can read more about here) and just 1 day before I admitted myself to the hospital for a fourth time and eventually would have labor induced. It was definitely not what I had planned and it took some time for me to come to terms with the idea of letting go of the labor and birth I had desired.

There comes a point with this disease that you start to feel like your body has failed you. For me, that point was a long time ago. Longer than I can remember. And I am very thankful that I haven’t felt that way in a long time now. But by the time I admitted myself to the hospital for the third time in as many weeks, all of those feelings started flooding over me again. And this time they were even worse because I didn’t feel like I was just failing myself, but failing my child, as well. My child hadn’t even been born yet and already I couldn’t take care of him. I couldn’t get him everything he needed.

And when the doctors started talking about having to take him early, because my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, it scared me. I had promised myself from the beginning of this pregnancy that I would not be one of those people wishing the baby out earlier than he was ready. Because I know that they stay in there for a reason and that when he was ready, he’d come. I didn’t want to wish any negative side effects on him simply because I was uncomfortable.

FullSizeRender-4But I was also dealing with the fact that keeping him in could be just as dangerous. I had to stay healthy in order to keep him healthy. When things started going downhill for me, I had to take medications, stay away from some of the healthy, but hard-to-digest food I was eating, and spend long hours in the hospital, all of which could cause him harm. Still, the last thing I wanted was for him to enter the world surrounded by cold machines and being hooked up to tubes and wires. I have spent enough of my life there that I hope he never has to know that. I wanted the first things he knew to be me and his dad and how much we love him. I wanted it to be warmth and excitement, not being whisked away to a NICU.

These are feelings I don’t know how to move past. It’s a hard place to be when you feel like you can’t trust your own body. All I can do is pray and trust that God will see me through and will take care of my little one, whenever and however he arrives.

I cried the entire time I wrote these words, feeling so uncertain and scared. I am so thankful that God did see me through and He did take care of my little one who was born at a healthy weight, did not have to be hooked up to any tubes or wires and spent no time in the NICU. He came out to that warmth and excitement I had hoped for him. You can read the full story here.

So while things did not go exactly as I had planned, in the end we had a healthy little boy. And during the induction, my body stepped up and allowed for a smooth delivery. It’s like it knew it was time for him to be born. I guess it wasn’t as much of a failure as I had thought. 

Ostomy FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) about Ostomies

Mention the word “ostomy” to most people and you’ll likely get either a blank stare or a confused look back. Because of this, ostomies are often very misunderstood, even by people who are very in tune to the inflammatory bowel disease/gastrointestinal world (I know I was one of them). So I have attempted to put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions when it comes to all things ostomy.

This is based on my experience with an ileostomy, since I don’t have a colostomy or urostomy and am not as familiar with how they work, even though a lot of the information is relevant to all three types.

World Ostomy Day frequently asked questions FAQ stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon top 10 reasons to have an ostomy ileostomy colostomy urostomy 101

What is an ostomy? An ostomy is a non-natural opening in your body by which a person releases waste. (Read: What is an ostomy?)

What’s the difference between an ileostomy, colostomy and urostomy? The type of ostomy is dependent on what part of the digestive tract is used to make the stoma. An ileostomy uses the small intestine, a colostomy uses the large intestine and a urostomy uses the ureter and part of the small intestine. (Read: Ileostomy, colostomy, urostomy: What’s the difference?)
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What is an ostomy?

The big question: What is an ostomy? Here’s your first lesson.

what is an ostomy stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon top 10 reasons to have an ostomy ileostomy colostomy urostomy 101

An ostomy is basically a non-natural opening in your body by which a person releases waste. Through this hole, the surgeon will pull the end of either your small/large intestine or ureter, thus creating a stoma. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, however, most often when someone is speaking about their ostomy, they are referring to the entire thing, but a stoma refers to the actual piece of organ that is outside of the body.

An external pouching system is used to collect the waste. In more simple terms, an adhesive bag covers the stoma and catches the poop or pee as it exits the body. The bags can then be changed out or emptied into a toilet.

There are 3 main types of ostomies: ileostomy (stoma is made from small intestine), colostomy (made from large intestine) and urostomy (made from the ureter and part of the small intestine). I’ll go into each of these in a little more detail later this week.

It doesn’t seem like particularly accurate calculations are kept, but it is believed that approximately 1 million people in the U.S. alone have an ostomy of some sort, with another 300,000 having surgery every year.

Reasons for needing an ostomy:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis
  • Colon cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Bladder cancer
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Trauma, accident, birth defect, etc.

An ostomy can be temporary or permanent. A temporary ostomy may be used if the intestinal tract needs time to heal and can be reconnected in the future or it can also be used as the first step in a two-part surgery to form an internal pouch. A permanent ostomy is sometimes needed when the entire colon has been removed, or at the very least the rectum, or when a reconnection surgery is not possible.

I do not pretend to have extensive medical knowledge, so some of this information was found online: UOAA, ASCRS, NIH