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Venesections

I have PV and have been on daily aspirin and hydroxy since March. My first venesection in February was no problem, the second was also fine but with slightly reduced blood-pressure at the end. I confidently attended hospital for my third yesterday morning. I've never minded needles and I'm not squeamish about blood. What could possibly go wrong?

The following is not meant to alarm but simply to share my experience, on the basis that more information may be useful for someone somewhere!

After 25 minutes, they had taken the full 500 ml. I had started to feel a little light-headed and blurry in one eye when, quite quickly, I started to feel very dizzy, my vision went blurred, I felt confused and sick and I fell forwards. My pulse had apparently gone down to 32 pm.

The response was rapid and excellent: oxygen, atropine (be sure to look this up: belladonna, with very marked side-effects) and off to A & E for the rest of the day. Two new words: bradycardia and vasovagal. I seem OK today, DG.

Peter

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I only ever have at the most 400ml taken with no problems. The only problem I have is getting the blood out, it has to be syringed out because of small veins and the thickness of the blood and that can cause your blood pressure to fall as its taken faster. So far so good. Only once I felt a bit lightheaded. I hope this is a one off for you and I can only imagine how scary it was and probably makes you very wary of future venesections.

Anne

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Thanks for your comment, Anne.

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Hi Peter,

What an experience, A little worrying I'm sure. I'm glad they were on the ball and got you the treatment you needed quickly. Glad you are feeling ok today. Try and enjoy the rest of the weekend sun.

All the best and thanks for sharing your experience.

Barry

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Thanks Barry. Yes - it was quite a thought-provoking moment. The body is a remarkable mechanism.

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Dear Peter, I feel for you. I had a vasovegal episode after what must have been about my third venesection and it was a very frightening experience - I honestly thought I was dying. I had actually gone out to a family dinner just after the venesection and left the meal to go outside for a breath of fresh air as I started to feel nauseous. Luckily a family member followed me outside and was able to catch me when I collapsed. I not only fainted but lost control of my bladder and threw up when I came to. A thoroughly horrible experience and very frightening for my family as you can imagine! Now I am careful to go home and rest (and drink plenty of fluids) after a venesection - just in case! It’s interesting that in your case it also happened after the third venesection. I do think they take a toll on us. In my case I had three venesections within about ten days to try to bring the hematocrit down quickly. That has to be quite traumatic for one’s organism. If it’s any comfort I have had several venesections since and it’s never happened again so hopefully this will be a one-off experience for you too.

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That's certainly a grim and vivid tale you tell and I'm very pleased it proved just a one off for you. It's very useful to hear the experiences of other people. Thanks for taking the time to post.

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Hi Peter, I've had PV for 2 years now and am on aspirin 75mg daily. I'm 45 years old and my hct was around 0.50 to begin with. I also have high platelet count around 800 and high white blood cell count. So far I have had 7 venesections spread out over the last year. I have noticed that my blood pressure is always reduced after venesection because there is simply less of it. I have learned to keep hydrated especially on the day of a venesection. My blood pressure is usually slightly high and is even higher whenever I go for treatment. Because of this and the aspirin my blood tends to come out very quickly. I sit for at least 20 minutes and drink a cup of tea before I leave. Apart from one time when I had quite extensive bruising I have never had a problem. I hope you are keeping well and that your bad experience was a one off.

All the best.

Rob.

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Thanks for taking the time to post and for your good practical tips.

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Hi. If it’s any consolation the Day Unit up at Guy’s was pretty busy on my last visit. Getting a seat was a bit like the cliched ‘towels on sunbed by the pool’ scenario! Anyhow I also learnt that only certain seats were for venesection patients - the ones that could go flat out in case of fainting! So clearly it’s a trend! I’ve never got that stage but there have been a couple of occasions when my blood pressure has dropped significantly. The nurses are always enthusiastic about offering biscuits, sandwiches and drinks before and after treatment. Hopefully for you that was a one off experience never to be repeated.

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Thanks Ebot. I'm glad I decided to post my story - it's been very interesting and useful to read others' experience.

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I've had PV for 10 years with venesections about 3 times a year. Also on aspirin. I always drink a pint of fluid before I go and have the regulation cup of tea and a biscuit afterwards. Fortunately never had a problem. What you experienced sounds horrendous. Fingers crossed it was a one-off.

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Thanks Mark. Yes - I could handle a gentle fainting episode, but this was in a bit of a different league! The atropine they administered to push the heart-rate back up obviously worked - but it had some very unpleasant side-effects, including a triple migraine with impaired vision and an impaired ability to speak normally for some time, something my wife later described to me with a certain bemusement : ) !

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