My poor veins are so scarred up

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 2/22/2008 11:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Ok so I have a high pain tolerance, and do not mind needles or IV's by any means, but mother of pearl this is getting old. I have literally had hundreds of needle sticks since September, and the frequency is not lessening. Every time I have to get an IV, which is often unforunately these days the nurse (who never misses) has to poke me atleast 3 times to find a vein. Before this I have to sit with hot packs and hot blankets around both my arms for about 20 minutes just so they can see a vein, and still it takes forever. Today at my Remicade infusion it took 2 hours, and 6 nurses, and 5 pokes to finally find a vein. The head nurse had to come in and say that she was going go order a picc line because all the veins they could see where scarred up, and every other one is teeny and pretty much pathetic. The guy nurse asked if he could maybe check my feet for veins...WHAT?! EEK! So in the middle of ordering a picc line just for remicade one of the nurses finally got a tiny little vein the middle of my back forearm, and it hurt like heck and left a nice bruise. It burned the whole time, and they had to keep heat on the site to keep the vein open. This seems like a bit too much effort for a blood draw or IV if you ask me. The nurses all asked me if my doc had talked to me about a portacath because it was definitely time to get one if not just consider it. So they sent a letter to my GI saying that a portacath is needed to access a vein, and to chat about it with me.
Has anyone else had this issue, and how has the GI reacted to this request. I have known many people with a port (not for crohns) and at this point I am all for it.  My poor arms are bruised, and have track marks, which pretty much makes me look like an addict. Good times!
Diagnosed: 2003, age 18 (had issues with it since I was 12)
Meds for crohns: Remicade every 6 weeks, 6-mp, Nexium (GERD)
Other medical issues: Hereditary Spherocytosis (hemolytic anemia) iron deficient anemia, polyarthralgia, ovarian cysts, Migraines, GERD
Surgeries: Spleen, Gallbladder, Tonsils, Adenoids, foot of terminal Ileum, Appendix, Ileocecal valve, bit of colon

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 493
   Posted 2/23/2008 12:01 AM (GMT -6)   
While I'm not an an iv med, I do feel for you. I too have track marks and very small scarred veins---but my constant blood work was years ago. I still look like an addict! I often go from one phlebotomist to another and another. I've had the ammonia thing snapped for me and have needed to lie down b/c they've searched for so long. At one CT scan, I had a woman downright yell at me. I finally convinced her to use a vein on the side of my wrist and another person did it for her (thank goodness).

Are you allowed to drink water before your blood work/iv? Hydration really helps my veins pop up. However, I almost always have my blood drawn from my hand--the top of either hand. I ask right away for a butterfly and, after taking a peek at both arms, they are relieved to use my hand. Don't be afraid of the veins in the feet. You must be in the hospital for them to use these veins but it is an option.

I hope the port works for you and that the burning, pain, and discomfort settles down.
23 years with moderate Crohn's/colitis; fistulizing crohn's; pentasa

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 95
   Posted 2/23/2008 9:43 AM (GMT -6)   
I have not had a portacath they talked about it last summer for tpn since my veins to are crap , I have heard good thing about them I think its got to be better than being poked so many times and you would be able to get hooked right up to the remicade and save alot of time.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 2/23/2008 11:30 AM (GMT -6)   
Crohnie8 I am exactly like you. My viens are so bad. The idea of hydrating is good, but I know for me it doesn't always work. But like Sammie I always have to have my blood draws from the top of either hand and always with a butterfly.

I am really curious how many of us share this problem?????
Been living with Crohn's Disease for 32 years.  Currently on Asacol, Prilosec 60 mg, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain and Calcium.  Resections in 2002 and 2005.  Recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and doing tests to see if I have Inflammatory Arthritis or AS.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 456
   Posted 2/23/2008 12:44 PM (GMT -6)   
I've not had much of a problem recently, but it was awful last summer when I was in the hospital.  I was in such bad shape that my veins kept collapsing.  Both arms were covered in bruises for weeks afterward.  After three days they decided to but in a cetral line.  It was wonderful!  It had two ports, so they could keep me on IV and draw blood without further sticks.  If the relief of a portacath is anything like the central line, I say go for it! 

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 53
   Posted 2/23/2008 1:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Crohnie 8....... Hi ,I feel for you, I too have veins that can no longer be found for IV's and remicade every 8 weeks has done a toll on them.In sept. of last year I had a port-a-cath put in, It has been a god sent. It took me a year and alot of poking to finally decide to have it done and it was a good decision for me. I spoke with my surgeon and had it done as a day surgery , i was put under for it and after x-ray to see if it was postioned right i was allowed to go home and for the next 3 days home care came in to flush it everyday and then after that i have it flushed once a month, sertile procedure is very important so you do not get a infection so watch carefully . I now have my blood work done by using to port-a-cath every time i have it flushed because only RN"s can acesses it .Good luck if you choose to have one done , it was a good choice for me and I have no regrets .

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 214
   Posted 2/23/2008 2:08 PM (GMT -6)   
If you are physically able to, a little excercise should fix your problem very easily, it will allow your veins to be fuller, thicker and as a result much easier to find when it comes to blood tests. I wish everyone was a lucky as i have been with Crohns and being able to continue my fitness regime, the nurses love me since they can take my blood with their eyes closed since my veins are so thick, although a couple of the nurses annoy me because i think they get in the habit of going deep and numerous times some of them have gone WAY to far in (its pretty bad when you can actually feel they have gone to far and then get that lovely feeling of having the needle slowly pulled back out untill they get back to the spot they should have stopped at in the first place, this obvisouly leads to instant bruising, i rate the nurse based on the bruise, about 60% do their job and leave me with no bruising, 30% leave a little mark, and 10% are WAY to aggressive with the needle and leave huge bruises the size of my fist on me, grrrr)

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 168
   Posted 2/23/2008 3:06 PM (GMT -6)   

I have had the same problem this last year. You can even see my veins anymore. the recess when they've been overpoked. They'll settle deeper to hide. So I had a picc line put in in August and it has been fantastic! They take all my blood through it, fluids, even my remicade infusion. They just hook up and it's fantastic. No pokes! it's been great to give my vein a rest.

I haven't had to have a portacath, but i recently had my picc pulled because of a skin reaction and they seriously considered just putting in a port. I even had an appointment scheduled. but when they found out i was on warfarin, they wouldn't let me do it. So they just put the new picc in my other arm.

Really, if they'll put in either a pick or a portacath for you, I would absolutely go for it. it's make showering difficult, but it's fantastic when it comes time to get poked!

diagnosed: Crohn's Aug 2005
other set-backs: Vasculitis Aug 2006, Sub-total Colectomy (10 inches of colon left) Feb 2007, Ogilivie's Syndrome Mar 2007, Pulmonary Embolism Sept 2007, Collapsed lung Oct 2007, Recto/Vaginal fistula Nov 2007
drugs: Asacol, Imuran, Remicade, Humira, Prednisone, Canasa, Fentanyl, Warfarin, TPN

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 3200
   Posted 2/23/2008 6:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi crohnie8, yep I've had the same problem. The did do a central line on me at my last hospital visit. There has been talk of a porta cath
but, I;m not so keen. I've heard lots of not so good stuff about them.

This vein stuff does seem par for the course...

Too many years with CD
Two bowel resections, several obstructions.

Laughter is the brush that sweeps the cobwebs from our hearts

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 2/23/2008 8:13 PM (GMT -6)   
My veins are starting to get this way. Last Remicade infusion it took 6 tries to get one going. I don't know what will eventually end up happening! Good luck with everything!

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 86
   Posted 2/24/2008 1:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Crohnie..... i would highly recommend the port. I was the same way. 3 Years ago while in the hosp. for 36 days, my veins finally became totally useless. Not even a pic line would last more than 4-5 days....and they are supposed to be good for at least a month. They put the port in and I have only had one problem in all that time. Yeah you have to go every 6-8 weeks to have it flushed but hey, one stick and it's over. I would suggest you do what I did when it comes to that and go to the oncology dept. where they do it all day every day........ they never miss. And other ppl that know.... thats a long needle to stick straight in you more than one time. They will even freeze the area first if you want. I don't personally need that, but for those that are less tolerate of pain, may.

The problem I spoke of was that I got a real bad lung infection and it traveled to the port..... that was bad I have to admit. I had to go to the hospital everyday for 2 weeks for IV antibiotic. But luckily it was handled and I didn't lose the port. If that does happen and you have to take the port out, it's another surgery to remove it and then agian later to replace it, if they choose to. I personally would let them, it has been a God send for me and my poor veins. I am scarred up enough from needles and surgery and knew that without it nothing would change.

This is my opinion of course and you must do what you and you doctors think is best, but now you know that there are good results for such a step.

Best Wishs and Good luck,
W/F Age 37, Southern Indiana Married w/ 2 Kids ,
DX with CD in early 1990's.....also Depression, Anxiety, Reflux, Migraines, Bladder Spasms, Asthma,Cronic Pain, COPD w/ Cronic Broncitis, Cronic Cough Syndrome, Cronic Nausea due to CD in Stomach, recently dx'd with Fibromylgia and bursitis
 Currently on Humira (Just Started), have tried all current meds & nothing works, but 22 others for the rest.  2 Resections, 1998/2003. 7 hospital stays in 2 years
Count Your Blessings..... and then call them if you can!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 2346
   Posted 2/24/2008 5:43 PM (GMT -6)   
They never miss in the oncology dept.?!    That is where I get my remicade and it is rare if they get the iv in on the first try!  It's not their fault......I have tiny veins.  They always put heat on my arm/hand first, and then give it a go! 

there's Hope
Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 145
   Posted 2/24/2008 7:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I have the same issue. I had a port o cath put in during a hospital stay last year and it was a god send. Not only do you not have to be poked a million times, the medication does not burn going in and you can not feel it when they draw blood. So its pressure on your chest for a moment when the needle goes in, nothing close to the pain you are dealing with now. I wish you luck whatever your decision might be
26 year old female. Dx with UC in June 2003. Flare up in June 2006 led to CD dx.
Current Meds: Remicade, Asacol, Bentyl, Phenergan, Reglan, Ultram, Celexa, Seaonale, Seroquel, Fish Oil, Lacto and a Multi Vitamin

"There's Hope. It doesn't cost a thing to smile; You don't have to pay to laugh; You better thank God for that!"

Stoma Girl
Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 2/24/2008 8:26 PM (GMT -6)   

Crohnie9, I am exactly the same with veins and have been since like, birth. In my last hospital visit they tried my hands arms feet and legs before then got a line in my neck.. and that was just for anaesthetic! Some poor nurse burst the veins in my hands before as well.. ouch! But the worst place though the best for getting blood is apparently the inner wrist.. give it a go?
Mary x x x
Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
.. Stoma Girl ..
.. Ileostomy following Crohn's Disease, 2007 ..
.. Meds? Tried 'em all! ..
.. Currently on Paroxetine 20mg for depression ..
.. Time between diagnosis and operation - one year ..
.. But HAPPY! ..

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