Intravenous drug ban – revised version.

The following letter will become part of my hospital kit with immediate effect. The reasons for the ban are described in detail in this post. Beware – if you have a serious needle phobia you might want to give it a miss.


To whom it may concern,

Subject: I-V drugs etc.

This is to inform you that I will not permit the intravenous administration of drugs or any other substance unless my life is demonstrably at risk. This also applies to PICC lines or any other device of a similar nature.

This also applies whether or not I am conscious. Failure to abide by this without a court order will result in legal action.

The reason for this is that last time I was admitted to APH in November 2013, i-v use was so enormously careless and in some cases so stupid and incompetent that it bordered on the criminal, and almost every accessible vein, in both hands and both arms, was damaged, some beyond recovery at the time of writing, causing me a great deal of pain and distress.

This will not be permitted to happen again.

In addition, I found the purging process to be excruciatingly painful, because my veins were so often blocked. Nurses and other staff refused to accept that was the case, which resulted in staggering displays of uncaring idiocy. One nurse tried to tell me it wasn’t pain I was feeling, it was just cold – do I really look that stupid? Another persisted in trying to purge a cannula that clearly wasn’t going to be purged, pain or no pain. Telling her to desist or I’d throw her out of the room was the only way to stop her. That vein, by the way, is still blocked.

I don’t know why my veins block when cannulae are used, but they do, and nurses and medical staff just do not listen to patients because they think they always know better. Well, I can assure you that, in this instance, they do not. This has happened far too much in the past; it will not be permitted to happen in the future.

The last straw was when a senior nurse  (white uniform, blue trim, middle-aged), connected up my i-v via the electronic pump. Shortly afterwards it sounded an air-bubble alert and shut itself down. I pressed the nurse’s call button and settled in for the inevitable wait (the record stands at 2 hours).

The same nurse eventually turned up, by which time there was a large and visible crop of air bubbles in the line, so what did she do?  She gathered all the plastic tubing into a ball, and squeezed! The resulting pressure pulse blew a small hole in my arm forward of the cannula, blew the cannula itself backwards (I still have the scar), and trashed the vein. As I said – criminal stupidity. Or malice – she clearly resented being disturbed in the middle of the night.

Finally, I was issued with anaesthetic cream, for one last try at getting blood. This needed to be applied at least an hour in advance. The junior doctors refused to wait that long and so, of course, the cream didn’t work. They were firmly asked to leave.

By the time I was discharged, the aversion to needles that has been a problem since childhood had been ramped up into a full-blown phobia. That is still the case. If I am able to control it sufficiently I will permit blood to be taken (by Phlebotomy staff only – see my file for the reason, April 2013). That is the limit of what I will permit.

Yours faithfully,


4 thoughts on “Intravenous drug ban – revised version.

  1. Oh how I commiserate Ron…same here…only phlebotomy staff allowed to touch my veins…as I read your ” bloody” experiences. My veins always have done a runner every time they are deemed a necessary entry into my body…I have had most parts savaged, even flesh cut out to reach a vein when I was half conscious. Last time after everyone had a go even I suspect, the cleaner, my hands were bleeding bruised I was crying, told “Sssch a minute we will get there” and ” please dont shout”…… Now only trained “bloody” staff, who are lovely efficient and swift… really good women know what they are doing, a couple have remarked that “your poor hands have been in the wars” !
    Ron keep on trucking!

    • At one point, during my November stay, they wanted to install a PICC line (this goes into an arm vein, all the way to the heart). When I pointed out that they screwed up a normal i-v catheter every damn time, and there was no way I was going to trust them with something that went so close to my heart, they sulked for days.

      Apart from that, if my arm veins routinely block at the insertion point, what would happen if the PICC line threw a clot close to my heart? It’d probably kill me.

      One conversation with a junior doc, in November, went like this:

      Me: You get one chance at this.

      Doc: It normally takes me two tries!

      Me: Well, you know what you do second?

      Doc: Yes . . .?

      Me: Do it first.

      I don’t know if she did, but she got in with no difficulty!

      Things is, though, before my six-week admission in March-April last year, I had great veins – never had the slightest problem getting blood. But during that stay, setting the pattern for the future, they screwed up every last available vein.

      Finally, at a CT scan-assisted colonoscopy, they just couldn’t get the cannula in for the sedative and the contrast medium. So they went away and came back with the most gorgeous baby doctor they could find, presumably in the hope that I’d be so busy drooling I would pay attention to what she was up to. But, hey, I can multitask!

      So I said to her, “You get one attempt, and by that I mean one clean insertion – you do not spend the next five minutes waggling the needle about, trying to find a vein.” And she failed, and promptly grabbed my file and wrote me up as “Phlebotomy only!”

      Problem is, much of the time they can’t get into a vein either! Probably all the scar tissue.

  2. Fantastic letter Ron 🙂 I can understand your phobia after all the messing around you have had – I’d be the same, although I don’t have a phobia at the moment 🙂
    The one problem that I do see is going into hospital via an ambulance and not being conscious or half conscious. You know that when you go into an ambulance that putting in a cannula is one of the first things they do, to prepare you for anything that they may need to give you, and to get you ready for the A+E.
    I think it definitely needs to go onto your records on computer so that things like this can be avoided as well.
    Jay xx

    • I’ve never had a catheter inserted in an ambulance – usually that happens in A&E here. And they do get the hump when I refuse!

      I think I’ll put a shortened version of the letter – in a huge font – in a plastic sleeve and hang it round my neck if need be. I was thinking of a “No Cannulae” tattoo on each arm. Two problems – hey, needles again! – and that medical staff think the plural of cannula is cannulas!


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