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Which comes first - the artery or the vein?

Posted Sep 24 2008 11:40am
I have been starting my dialysis treatments completely by myself for some time now. The trickiest part of the whole thing is the cannulation. Cannulation is basically the act of inserting the two dialysis needles into my left upper arm. These are used to draw out the blood and then put it back in.

Most people have their fistula in such a way that there is quite a lot of space between the arterial site and the venous site. So, it is fairly simple to do the cannulation. Mine, however, are very close to each other and what is more, are at right angles to each other. This makes it quite a task to get the second needle in after the first one is in place.

I usually did the artery first, for no particular reason. This made doing the venous difficult because the arterial needle would almost always come in the way.

The day before yesterday, when I was putting the venous needle in after the arterial needle, my finger accidentally flicked the venous needle and it jumped out! The venous site started bleeding. I quickly put my forefinger on it to stop the bleeding.

Luckily, my brother was at home. I shouted out to him. I asked him to give me a new needle. I removed my finger after a few minutes. The bleeding had stopped. I then carefully put the needle in and taped it securely. It turned out all right in the end. But I did get scared.

When I think about it, I wonder what I would have done had my brother not been at home? I probably would have had no choice than to remove even the arterial needle and either wait for my tech or start all over again.

Yesterday, I did the venous needle first to see if this would be easier. It was. Once I did the venous, the arterial was pretty easy.

I will be doing this for the next few days. Let's hope it turns out fine.
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