The First Stick

Uhhhmm is that harpoon going in my arm?

After the infection I learned my lesson to be carful with the catheter. Don’t get it wet and let the nurses know if you even suspected that it was damp. Most importantly, I could not wait until my fistula was mature enough to be used. Some changes where made until I could use my fistula. First, continue to receive antibiotics until I tested negative for an infection. Second, the nephrologist recommended that I not go back to work until they could use it successfully for 2-3 weeks in a row, and have the catheter removed.

I remember the day that I went back to the vascular surgeon to see if my fistula was ready. He did a few exams that day, one was he listen to my fistula with a stethoscope. He was listening for the thrill the the access makes and an x-ray was done as well just to ensure that everything was a go. Once it was confirmed, he stated it could be used the next treatment and gave me a paper to give to the staff that said it was ok to use. My family and I was so excited that I was one step closer to being free from the cursed catheter.

The next treatment I took my hand-held game system to play but once there I realized that they were going to use my fistula and that I would not be able to use that arm. As they prepared to use it, I will say straight up that I was very nervous and started to sweat which had not happened since I started dialysis. I then saw the needle or in my words the harpoon that was sitting on the side table of my chair. Once I sat down, the charge nurse, lets call her Aunt B came in for she was the one that would stick me. Now keep in mind these needles looked big and were big and there were two of them. Now to give you an example of how big they are take a look at the end of an ball point pen and that is about the size of the needles. Now you can see why I say it was a harpoon.

Once I was settled in it was time to stick, Aunt B said ready my mouth said yes my mind said in like maybe in a hundred years or so then it happened she stuck. GASP OWW then again GASP OWW. It was all over. It was not too bad. In fact, the thought of it was worse than the stick. No, I am not saying it did not hurt but my mind made it worse than it was. Once the needles were in I was ready to start treatment.

The rest of the treatment went well but I do want to say a few things to expect once your fistula is ready to use.

  1. It is needles going in your arm so there can be some pain at the initial sticks but overtime scar tissue builds up and the sticks may not hurt as bad.
  2. Some clinics may offer a cream or spray to help with the pain. They are generally applied a half hour before the sticks. Ask your medical team if this is something that you can use.
  3. Through the whole treatment it is recommended not to move your access. There are a few reasons for this. One your machine may alarm more than normal. Two there is a greater risk of infiltration of your access and I can tell you those are not fun.
  4. Even though these are things you may experience. A little pain it is better than an infection that leads to a hospital stay and possibly surgery.

What an experience that was to say the least but it gets better. Tune in next time as I talk about getting the cursed catheter out and start to learn to live beyond the machine. Oh and don’t forget to subscribe or follow us on Instagram @ kidneytrails so you don’t miss and new and exciting content.

2 thoughts on “The First Stick

  1. A half hour is typically NOT long enough for a numbing cream to work. It takes at least an hour–and for some people TWO hours. The cream has to soak through the skin to reach the fistula. Wash off the skin oil first, apply a ⅛” thick layer about the size of a size to each of the two the spots where the needles will go, and then cover it with plastic wrap to keep in place. Before treatment, you wash it off.


    1. Thank Dori for your clarification on this subject it is much appreciated. 30-45 minutes was what I did that worked for me. Everyone is different and should consult the clinical care team on what is the best for them. Once again I appreciate your comment.
      Thank You
      Anthony E Reed


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