Dear Vein Access Specialists: Insisting You Use My Port Does Not Mean I Doubt Your Abilities

Dear anesthesiologists, nurse-anesthetists, ER nurses and lab techs at the local hospitals and clinics,

Please don’t take my permanently-implanted IV access Port-a-Cath as a challenge to your professional ability to access peripheral veins. I have no doubt that you can, and do, access veins for lab tests and IVs all day long; in fact, I recognize that doing so is your job and you have been well trained to do that job.


I can understand why you might hesitate to use my Port: it is a sterile procedure with the accompanying risks of infection, it is more expensive because it requires a heparin lock when the access is removed and it’s a specific skill set that can be intimidating when you don’t see them very often. And for those of you in the position of the one who has to put me under anesthesia, I know how important it is for you to be able to push large amounts of fluids through the IV if something should go wrong in the operating room.

Believe me, I get it. But please look at it from my point of view: I did not go through the surgical implantation of a permanent medical device in my body just because I don’t like needles. For over 10 years prior to making that decision, I watched my veins deteriorate. Each time I needed blood work done (often two or three times in a month), or had a trip to the ER for an asthma attack, or spent several days in the hospital, I endured multiple attempts at needle sticks. In fact, a 10-day stay in the hospital required a central line placement because my veins kept collapsing under the pressure of constant medication infusions and constant hydration.

By 2012 I was being referred to the local infusion center to get my blood draws done because the local laboratories were no longer willing to try to access my veins. After two years at the infusion center, even those expert IV nurses were trying three or four different veins each time I came in for those necessary blood tests. Finally, after a protracted struggle and a complete blow-out of the last attempt, the nurse who had tried six (six!) different veins called my doctor and told him they would no longer try to access my veins and recommended he prescribe a permanent Port for me and I agreed wholeheartedly, making the request to him myself, bruises prominently displayed on my arms.

Two weeks later, I had a Port-a-Cath. In case you were wondering, the OR nurses had to try three different veins to gain access for my surgical IV. That provided the final confirmation that I had made the right decision to ask for my Port. Since getting my Port, I keep a standing appointment for a Port flush at the infusion center for the rare months that I don’t have a scheduled blood draw in order to keep this precious Port accessible for emergencies or surgeries.

So that’s the story of why I have a Port and I hope it explains why I fight so hard for its use when you try to tell me that you can access my veins without using it. Please know that it is not a slight to your abilities that I insist upon you using my Port for vein access, it’s because I want to make this a win-win situation for both of us. Thanks.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via jm1366.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

woman in a mobility scooter at the zoo next to woman with an oxygen tube in her nose at the airport

27 Photos Spoonies Wanted to Post on Facebook, but Didn't

“Spoonie,” a term often used within the chronic illness community, refers to someone who has limited energy reserves because of their condition. This comes from Christine Miserandino’s “spoon theory,” which many find helpful for explaining what it feels like to live with chronic illness. However, it is often still difficult for others to truly understand the experience [...]
two friends walking outside at sunset

The Ebb and Flow of Friendships With Chronic Illness

I see and hear a lot from those dealing with chronic illness about how it has affected relationships, more specifically friendships. My journey sounds similar. Years ago, I remember my dad talking to me about having true friends, and if I could count them on one hand I should consider myself lucky. My friendships have [...]
two women sitting on a park bench next to a lake under an umbrella

How We Can Better Support Those Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts Due to Chronic Illness

Suicidal thoughts can, at times, go hand in hand with chronic illness. Living in constant pain mentally and/or physically can be extremely difficult to endure long-term. Most chronic illnesses are there to stay, so unlike the grief you may feel from a short-term loss or trauma, it can be even more difficult to continue life as normal with [...]
A mom and daughter taking a selfie together, the mom smiling and child sticking her tongue out.

To the Chronically Ill Parents, From a Chronically Ill Daughter

First of all, thank you so much for everything. Even if you don’t believe it, you are doing the best job with raising your children. I am a child of a chronically ill mother. And I am thankful for it. I wouldn’t change one single day. To my mom: Growing up, seeing your good days and [...]