Tag Archives: cannula

Day 215

The inside of my right elbow (known as the antecubital fossa, in case you have ever wondered) currently looks like it has been the victim of a vicious assault. This is probably an exaggeration, but it is showing a variety of bruises from three blood tests over the last three weeks. Nobody seems able to grasp the concept of “trying the other arm”. It’s partly the fault of the layout in phlebotomy rooms, which always seem to be set up to allow the phlebotomist easy access to the right arm.

The NHS has a fetish about the right arm. A few years ago, during my three month adventure with the urology department, a junior doctor told me he had come to insert a cannula. I queried why it was necessary, as I was only in hospital briefly while they treated an infection. I was told it was standard practice as it saved time if I needed to have one put in later. Clearly this was unlikely to be the case, but they do have a one size fits all approach and it’s easier just to let them get on with it.

“Can you put it in my left arm?” I asked.

“No, I’m sitting on this side of the bed and it’s easier to put it in the right.”

Not better for the patient, easier for medical reasons or anything like that, just easier for some pompous newly qualified doctor with the bedside manner of a city trader.

They are, in case you’ve never had one, difficult to insert if the subject has veins that don’t like having needles inserted. The record was, I think, 13, when I counted the marks from all the false starts they once mad whilst inserting one. Then you have the problem that after a few days they start to itch and become sore. All in all, I’m not a fan . . .

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

So he put it in my right arm, after several attempts, and went.

Less than 24 hours later I woke up when Julia came to visit, and she pointed out that the cannula had become dislodged and was hanging on by a single piece of adhesive tape.

That’s what happens when you put stuff in my dominant arm, I move it more than the other and things get caught. Unfortunately he wasn’t about when I asked for assistance in sorting it out.

Wate Lily

Blood Test

I went for a blood test this morning, amalgamating two visits (one for methotrexate and one for warfarin) into one, and donating a total of three tubes.

My original plan was to rise at 6.30 and get down to City Hospital for just after 7.00. That was replaced by a second plan, rising at 7.30 and getting down to the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC)for 8.30.

Like my last trip, there was plenty of  parking and no queue.

Instead of tickets from the machine they are using laminated tickets you pick up from reception. Last time I mentioned that I wondered if they cleaned the tickets between uses. I noted this time, that they do. To be honest, today’s tester seemed much more on the ball than the last one.

They couldn’t get anything from the insides of my elbows, so they used something with a needle and flexible tube. This went into my forearm and the tube was screwed onto the end. It’s difficult to describe, but is probably a cannula. I always think of them as having massive, painful needles, but I have checked up and some of them look like the equipment from this morning.Butterfly IV Cannula 21G - Green | Kays MedicalI feel quite faint after looking at that. It wasn’t so bad this morning but I’ve had some really bad experiences with cannulas (or cannulae, if you want to be true to the original Latin).

After that I risked my life by shopping for bread and various other bits. It wasn’t essential, but it eases the pressure on the ingredients cupboard.

Then I went home.

After a late breakfast and a cup of tea I checked to see that I was still waterproof and started to consider my activities for the rest of the day.

This was, as you have probably guessed, fatal.

I had a phone call from the surgery. They had, in turn, had a phone call from the anti-coagulant service to tell them to tell me that my sample had not been acceptable. This usually means that the tube wasn’t full enough, though the filling should be automatic with modern equipment.

They printed me up a new request form, which I had to collect, and I then nipped into the nearby City Hospital for the test. There was no parking. I could have parked further away, but I’m lazy, so, after staring at the new testing facilities. I drove back to QMC.

It all went smoothly, we had a laugh about my second visit of the day and I got stabbed in the arm again.

If I was Richard Curtis this would be the inciting incident for a prize-winning romcom – Four Blood Tests and a Cannula or Blood Actually. These are just working titles, they still need some work.

I was so glad to get out that I can’t even rise to being irritated by the duplication of tests, or the demise of my cunning isolation plan.

I was slightly irritated by the presence of a Staff Testing facility at City Hospital. There were tents, signs, barriers and a Security Guard. There were no cars, no staff and no evidence that anything was happening. The testing regime will, I’m sure, come under scrutiny in the months to come.

As a final note – I saw a dead badger on the Ring Road – the first in over 30 years. You see dead foxes, because they live in town but the badger must have sneaked in as part of the wildlife resurgence. Unlike my projected romcom this is a story that doesn’t end well.

two specimens on gray background

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com


Part 3 – Free at Last!

After the drainage procedure the pain immediately subsided, and I suspect that what remained was due to the drainage rather than the abscess.

We will now deal with the bed. It finally arrived from a secret off-site location (after a second call was placed), at 9.30. That’s about 8 hours. I presume it was either stored a long way away, or that it was close and they pushed it all the way by hand. To suggest a third choice, that it took eight hours because they couldn’t organise a party in a brewery, would be a cheap shot.

It was a monster, requiring furniture to be moved round, and had a pump which operated constantly, and noisily, to keep the special mattress inflated (this strikes me as a bad thing in a piece of furniture designed to facilitate sleep).

There were other faults – the main one being that it was so high I couldn’t get into it unassisted. For some reason The Great Bed of Ware comes to mind. City Hospital is currently running a campaign (End PJ Paralysis) to encourage patients to get dressed properly and get active. Strange really, considering they seemed to go out of their way to render me immobile.

I won’t mention the the list of other faults, as several of them have already come back to me as bad dreams. It’s difficult to imagine anyone being traumatised by a bed, but I promise you, on top of everything else, that bed came close to breaking my spirit.

Once I had been assisted into bed, and we had addressed various problems with adjustments things took a turn for the worse when a junior doctor arrived with a cannula. I had hoped to avoid having one but it seemed that they couldn’t get enough antibiotics into me by mouth alone. When you think of the alternatives I suppose intravenous isn’t so bad.

As usual, it didn’t go in at the first attempt and the doctor decided to try my right hand. I try to avoid the right hand as I often catch it whilst doing things. In this case, I started by bleeding on the book I was reading; this wouldn’t have happened if the cannula had been in the left hand. Second, I caught it on the cuff of my nightshirt whilst preparing to wash next morning, This resulted in a cannula that stuck out at a strange angle. I got it roughly back in position and replaced the dressing as well as I could, but it wasn’t quite right.

The rest of the day passed in a haze of boredom punctuated by random bottom inspections. Dark forces are obviously afoot in the NHS, striking back at the rising trend of patient dignity.  Under the guise of skin inspections to prevent bed sores, random members of staff wander along at irregular intervals and demand to see my heels and bottom.

I may refuse to show them next time, on the grounds I am a man, not a baboon.

Finally, Julia arrived to visit and help with my liberation. The first thing she did was point to a spot by my side and say “What’s that?”

It was the cannula. I must have plucked it straight out, which couldn’t have taken much effort as I didn’t even notice.

We asked a passing nurse to dispose of it instead of leaving it lying about.  She didn’t seem grateful for our help in keeping the place tidy, but maybe she was just sad at the idea of losing me.