Advise please

Hi ladies I'm on weekly Taxol and today had my 10th out of 18, my problem is this, I have chemo every Friday all being well, there is a lovely chemo nurse who is training and every time she tries to put the cannula into a vein it never never works, today she tried 4 times then called another nurse who put it in first time, all the other chemo nurse put the cannula in first time! I don't really want to complain but my hands are getting really sore and this nurse keeps pushing me to speak to my oncologist about other options, my problem is that it only seems to be her that can't get a vein all the other nurses can, I'm sure when she see's mecoming she must think oh no not her again, because I know  I do!! She is soo nice and caring but I do feel she feels guilty and I feel cross, do I speak to the one of the sisters on te ward? Any advise welcome.

Wishing everyone a good weekend 



41 Replies

  • Hey Karen, 

    You are a very nice person who is going through a very hard time please do not feel guilty to ask for someone else to put in your canula. I know where you are comong from as I too believe we ahould be open to people who are training at every opportunity but I think you have already provided enough training for that nurse and you have enough to be dealing with besides having to go through that each time you go for Chemo! 

    It's a difficult situation but I really do believe that you have to put yourself first in this context and ask for someone else to do it!! 

    Mind yourself and good luck with the rest of your treatment! 


  • Thanks D my husband and family say the same.

    Hope you are doing ok 


  • Hi Karen, 

    I would just be honest with her and ask if someone else can do the Canula. 

    It is my worst nightmare them not getting the Canula in first time, it is a horrible pain and I can only sympathise with you. 

    She obviously knows she finds your Canula difficult and may be relieved you have asked for someone else. 

    If you don't want to deal with her directly speak with someone who is in charge. It's not fair just because she is training that she can put you through that. 

    It's not a complaint and you have to think about yourself. 

    I know how u feel about not wanting to upset anyone but as my partner would say put yourself first for a change. 

    Have a lovely weekend, 

    Mandy. Xx

  • You are so right, I will speak to someone next Friday as you say I have to put myself first thanks Millie xx

  • I agree, with everyone on this, okay she is training but perhaps next week, she could work on someone else.  My veins go into hiding when I am on chemo, had a blood test a few weeks ago and I was black and blue and swollen,  I use arnica cream for the bruises,  I know that is not your point but perhaps you could use this on your poor hands as it does work.   One phlembotomy assistant told me you either know how to do it or you dont and if your nurse or tech cannot get a vein after two tries, then its time for them to quit and call someone else.  In fairness, this assistant gets it first time.   We all fear to speak out on the chemo ward, but you can just ask for someone else to do it with a small size cannula.   I really feel your pain,

  • Thank you I will definitely get the Arnica  for the bruises, I will speak to someone next Friday as its getting really frustrating!!

    Thanks again


  • Oh dear, I have been in this situation too. I did mention it to the senior nurse, I have since had 3 chemos where the cannula slipped straight in with no bruises at all. Please mention this. Marg xxx

  • Thanks Marg, it's really hard isn't it as this nurse has to train and is so lovely but today was the last straw, I think I've done my bit for training this nurse. Xx

  • Absoultely,  you have been more than generous with your veins. Chemo is tough enough without being a pin cushion. I would have a quiet word with the head nurse and stop this. Just say it's hurting and stressing you out and you would prefer if she didn't do it again.  As nice as she is she is hurting you that is not acceptable. By the way I have a Cath port and it takes the stress of finding veins away completely something to bear in mind for the future if your veins do actually become difficult.

    Best wishes


  • Thanks Trish, I've been thinking about the cathport to, a friend had one and she said the same xx

  • They have a rule at my hospital re cannulas - two attempts only and then another nurse will take over. I would definitely mention it to the senior nurse and request one of the other nurses cannulate you.

    Having said that my veins got really bad and I now have a port fitted and am really pleased with it.  It has been extremely useful over the last few months. 

    Best wishes


  • Thanks Sharon xx

  • I too had a specific nurse who could never find my veins. And as soon as she poked about my veins just dissappeared. So when another nurse was called we all used to make a joke about it and eventually she felt she should let another do it. To my releif. Its a shame but some can and some cant. 

  • That's exactly what my veins do, I'm sure they run away when they see this particular nurse xx

  • Drink plenty of water the day before chemo and make sure you are quite warmly wrapped up when going for chemo, that might help a little but yes change nurses

  • Thank you Suzuki xx

  • Please consult a homeopathic MD

  • Dear Karen

    It's not complaining to ask for a more experienced nurse. At my centre if any nurse, however experienced, fails to insert a cannula on two consecutive tries, then another nurse is brought in and he/she inserts the cannula. 

    Please don't think you are complaining. If I were you I'd ask to speak in confidence to the senior nurse at the ward as you arrive next time and explain just as you have here. You cannot be subjected to having four tries each time your cannula is inserted. 

    I think I would also mention this to the CNS.

    You will be doing other ladies a favour by speaking up. It may just be that this nurse finds your particular type of veins difficult to manage, or it may be more serious that they just haven't got the knack of inserting a cannula. Whichever is the cause it's best discussed quietly with someone in the ward who is in a position of responsibility and can do something about it. 

    Speaking up is easier said than done - I'm terrible at it. Think of us all when you go in next time. Imagine you are speaking up for us all and we're all behind you. xxx

    Sending love and hugs. xxxx Annie

  • Thanks Annie, great advise from you as always, it's given me the confidence to speak up. I will ring my CNS on Monday and the sister next Friday as you say in confidence. 

    Love and best wishes

    Karen xx

  • Hello Karen, That's just the pits, and I totally agree with what everyone else has said. Have a chat with the head nurse, and/or ask for someone else. I had a newbie at the hospital, the other day, and it was painful, but I was feeling very magnanimous, and let her practise on me. I couldn't put up with it, repeatedly! All the best, x

  • Yes I feel like that to x

  • I think speaking to someone else (so you don't have any confrontation), and just saying that while she's lovely, you're veins just can't take it and need some TLC at the moment.

    Chemo is hard enough on veins without them being prodded 4 or so times before the canula goes in.

    I cracked it in the emergency department once, because a nurse INSISTED that she take the blood even after I'd requested pathology come and do it. Not only did she fail to get blood after 5 tries, I ended up with a massive bruise that hurt for two weeks and stayed for 5 weeks.

    She finally called for someone from the pathology, and they got blood first try.

    My veins visibly shrunk down during chemo, to the point that they had to start using child size needles, they went deeper, and they got slippery, so that when the needle went in the vein would just slip out sideways.

    Chemo patients are so very difficult to get IVs into, and sometimes our need to not be jabbed multiple times needs to come before her need to train.

  • I will speak to someone, you've all given me the confidence to do it.


  • I thought the two attempts and then someone else does it was a general rule. But you don't even want the two attempts from this nurse. Sometimes a nurse and patient combination just don't seem to get on in this way. There was one  nurse who could do mine every time, but she said another patient wouldn't let her near. Do talk to someone. You can still have other care from her but not cannula insertion. Btw I find the most senior nurse is the one who can't get mine first go, which is a port now so should be easy! Luckily she's usually doing other things.  

  • Yes I just think my veins with chemo are smaller and obviously getting a bit tired and this nurse finds that difficult.  The more experienced chemo nurses do it first time. Yes she is so caring and nice so as you say let someone else do that bit xx

  • Hi Ladies, my wife had an I V port put in below her collar bone to avoid all such. Sadly, first she lost her voice due to a surgical mistake (getting her voice back slowly and its four months already,) then the port got infected and so we removed it. So much so for the blessed port. As you all know, the double effect of chemo and thin veins makes her left arm look like a kaleidoscope after the infusion. Recently, the onco suggested that we add commercially available standard measures of  MgSO4 to glycerine and heat the solution on a stove and then cool it off. It turns into a whitish cream which you can apply to the bruised arm. It worked wonders on her. 


  • Thanks Naimish best wishes 

  • Like some of the other ladies, I go to a hospital where the general rule is 2 tries to get into a vein, then ask someone else.  The same applies in the CT department if the radiographers have difficulty getting their cannulas in.


  • I must admit I was under the impression but the last few times it's been 4, 5, and yesterday 6 tries it was very sore. So I will say something as its not happening again x

  • This happened to me with an agency nurse. My oncologist told me to ask for the senior nurse to do it, but I didn't have to, as the senior nurse did it the next time. I think the oncologist might have put something on my notes so that I didn't have to say anything.

    Might be worth asking your oncologist to ask the chemo unit to get somebody else to put the cannula in.


  • I was under the impression it was two try's then someone else should take over.

    You should not be like a pin cushion every week. A gentle word should fix it.

    I have now had a power port fitted and after 7 years of lots of chemos it's fantastic

    I should have had it done years ago because sometimes it would take an hour to find any veins.

    Very best of luckx

  • Yes I must admit I felt like a pin cushion yesterday, it was very comfortable!! 

    Thank you xx

  • You might want to say something to one of the nurses that don't have a problem with the needle.  Before I started my chemo the doctor suggested putting a power port just below my shoulder, done in surgery of course so that they never have to stick me, they insert the needle into the port, feel just a pinch, and I have had it in for almost 2 yrs.  Dont even know it is there.

  • Karen

    I am a nurse and I know what it is like as a patient I have OVC  3c and also as a nurse but you come first AFTER THE SECOND ATTEMPT procedure in Edinburgh is you get a Senior it sound like you have been very patient so far. Why don't you mention this prior to next apt phone the ward and explain before you go to your apt. You have enough to deal with and I have been there with sore hands for days after. I have even been for ct scan and they couldn't get a needle in so I had to return to chemo to get a needle put in before I went for ct scan. The nurse will understand let her practice on others for now. 


  • This. Sounds good to me, I will speak to the senior chemo nurse before Friday. Thank you xx

  • Dear Karen,I feel your pain literally!! There is only so long that you can take the vein search assault course! You've done your duty with regards to helping out student nurse but now you have to focus on yourself and what you need and what would make your chemo easier for you to manage.I think they kind of hint at ports and pic lines as it makes it easier for them and I guess you to administer chemo and take bloods etc but that should be a decision to make well down the road.My veins are shot to hell,so I don't allow them the pricking and poking anymore,I just say,feel for a vein be certain its a good one as you'll only get one chance at this.6 weeks ago a student doctor tried 8 times between both hands and arms to get vein without success,a student surgeon came in and got one first try,so if someone can do it one go ,all should be able to do it.I know there was a lady getting chemo the same day as me and the nurses couldn't find a vein so she kept going over to oncologist in clinic to get  cannula in.Stay strong! 

  • Thank you xx

  • Hi, I agree with what the ladies have said. Speak to the Sister in charge. It  isn't good for you or the nurse yo let it continue. Ann x

  • I am on weekly taxol too. I have a PICC line. It is the most wonderful thing in the world. Very short sleeves are out this summer, as is swimming sadly, but no cannulas and no bruises. Wonderful. Jo x

  • Hi Karen,

    I'm a retired nurse. The ladies above are right.....2 tries, and you're out. I'll bet the nurse becomes very tense as she approaches you, knowing the number of times she's missed . You should definitely ask for another nurse, and don't feel badly about it. Of course, the ideal would be to have a port much easier and no bother at all. I've had mine for 1 1/2 years, and am grateful I do.

    Best wishes for bringing you back to good health........Judy

  • Thank you Judy xx

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