blood tests!!!

i went for my pre chemo bloods today and the nurse couldn’t get a vein. she tried 3 times in varius parts of my arm and hand. she phoned the oncology dept at the hospital and they want me to go and see them tomorrow - the day before my chemo. i really don’t think i can take any more needles as my hand and arm is really quite sore and i now feel a bit distressed over it all, silly i know. the nurse says that i have small veins and they have now went flat she was going to try a fourth time but she aid the vein was deep and she still mght not get anything and it was up to me so i declined - had enough pain for one day. not too happy just now : (

Ann x

Hi Ann

Its all such a worry isn’t it. I have been told I havn’t got good veins and my last blood test last week they couldn’t get it out of my arm and then went for my hand. She did get it and maybe it’s just they way she did it or am I kidding myself??? will find out next week for my pre-chemo bloods and chemo. Its not silly to feel distressed I must admit when I went last week I felt a little jittery which isn’t like me with needles, it must be because we have had to have so many. I wish you luck and hope you get your next dose on time.
Try not to worry


Hi Vodka Ann

My veins have always been a nightmare to find and now we’re down to 1 arm. I therefore had a PICC line inserted on the day I had my 1st FEC chemo; this or another kind of line that stays in whilst you have the course of chemo may be what the onc team want to discuss with you.

It was a little bizarre being awake during a minor surgical procedure, what with all the green gowns and sheeting over me, but it did not hurt. It was a little unconfortable for a few days but has never really hurt. It means I cannot shower properly but since I lost my hair this doesn’t bother me much now. In terms of the treatment, it is wonderful. The nurse takes blood from it, which is examined and I then have the chemo straight away if I’m ok. I have to go in once a week to have it cleaned and fresh dressing on, but this is no bother at all and I actually find it quite comforting to see the chemo nurses every week so I can ask any further qus etc.

It really does take away all the stress of finding a vein and bruising after. Do ask about it if they don’t mention it.

Best of luck with your chemo.


I am lucky, never had a problem with veins as mine always seem to stand right out ready for the instant prick!

My pre chemo bloods are done the day before, a nurse comes to my home to do it. When are all yours done? I mean, how far in advance of your chemo session.


Hi Ladies

I have deep veins too so IV was also problem as is bloods but I was told to make sure that arm is warm and to drink lots of water prior to bloods and chemo…!!!

Good luck take care

P xxxx

I have such good veins that it spurts over my GP’s nurse every month when I go for my Crohn’s chemo blood tests, so she wears a plastic apron now. When I had FEC chemo I elected to have blood tests done at my GP’s surgery the day before treatment at the hospital as it saved an hour’s wait to have them done in the Oncology suite and sent to the path lab for testing. Worked a treat.


Hi Vodka,

Me too, crap veins in good arm, good veins in mastectomy arm! Typical!

I was told the same as Paula above. So I try and drink gallons of water and put a heat pad on before going off for bloods. I can usually tell if someone is going to get blood or not, some of them seem to have an aura of confidence, if not they normally get me second time or get someone else in. Hope it helps you and good luck

Hayley x

I have good veins but oh my goodness what with 4 FEC, 4 TAX and now on No. 7 of 17 Herceptin, they are shot to pieces. The last three times I have been for Herceptin the nurses have had trouble, and its taken at least 3 goes each time to get the cannula in. It’s always in the back of my hand or my lower arm. I’ve been almost in tears sometimes it hurts so much! I always have the heat pad, but haven’t heard about drinking plenty of water…will try that next time (though what with the flush-throughs my bladder is almost bursting when I’m there anyway)!

As for the question re blood tests…when I was having chemo I had blood test at the hospital the day before chemo was due, no waiting in a queue in the blood clinic, cancer patients got a green card and had a special seating area (green seats), and went in almost immediately. I then went and had breakfast in the hospital restaurant, they do a lovely fry up, lol, and after that went to get weighed and see my oncologist. I don’t have blood tests for Herceptin, but still the oncologist the day before it’s administered.

I really sympathise Ann and hope something can be sorted out for you.


exactly the same happened to me and the chemo unit had to get their finest vein stabber to get a drip out of me for the initial blood tests, they had to use my inner elbow in the end but that cannot be used for chemo. When you are cold (not likely in the summer) or very scared (most likely) the veins sink. You usually have the pre chemo blood on the day before chemo so you are still fine for that. If they use my arm I have the warming pad twice and then my arm immersed in a bucket of really hot water and they eventually appear. It does not hurt the same way if they have a clear vein, so try not to worry. I was sent for an operation to have a port put in my chest because they said my veins were also thin and I was having epi which hardens the inner layer of your vein making it even narrower. They said no way would I get to the end with my veins so no more vein stabbing for me.It delayed my treatment for a week.
Try your best to stay calm and make sure your arm is covered and warm when you go in. I think they may suggest a port or line but if you can be brave and get the first one done, you can stay on target and have the first one over very soon
Lots of luck, I know just how you are feeling but it will get easier
Lily x

thanks for all your comments and advice. usually get my bloods done a day or 2 days before my chemo. i’m due to get my 3rd fec tomorrow but since the nurse (yesterday) at my GP’s clinic couldn’t get a vein (after 3 attempts) i’ve to go to oncology today. i have a heat pad so i think what i should do is wear it when going to the hospital and hopefully it will buldge my veins out. thanks again girls. : )

Ann x

Hi Ann

Good luck with your appointment today and let us know how you get on, I am seeing my oncologist today also just for a follow up after my second FEC but I bet the nurses have been telling tales out of school and I am sure he will mention my veins. Last FEC I sat in the waiting room and told my husband to keep rubbing my hand to keep it warm but then they went in half way up my arm. Think I will take a hot water bottle next week and drink load of water see if that helps. Got pre-chemo bloods on Monday so hopefully that will be ok then back in on Tuesday for No 3.


Hey Vod,
The things us ladies have to go through, it is complete pants.
I have always had tricky veins and it depends on the individual whether or not they get blood.
I have my bloods taken the day before to save me waiting around for 2 hours for the results on chemo day.

The day before the first session I went to my Dr’s surgery, I knew as soon as the young girl called me we were going to have trouble.
She inserted the needle with the cover on it, don’t know the name it isn’t a cannula it’s like a cover for the bottles as they had 2 to fill. An nothing came out and she used a big sized needle.
Next attempt a finer needle and hey presto it flies out no problem.
First FEC and it too 2 attempts to get the cannula in a vein, they tried either side of my wrist, it did hurt but not too much.

FEC 2, the Dr’s were closed for public holidays so went in 2 hours early to get my bloods done.
A wee bit of flicking etc and the cannula went in, then waiting for my blood to start pumping again to get the red stuff out.
Sat for 2 hours to be called and told that the bloods had clotted so had to do them all again. This time a chemo nurse did it, vein at my index finger knuckle on the back of my hand.
Home for 2 hours then back up and thankfully results good.
Then sh tries to flush the cannula with saline and it hurts like hell, so that has to come out.
Then the search is on for another one, my arm looks like spaghetti junction but apparently my veins are deep, she goes in but it is sore and hey presto we are off again.
The second session I felt it going in but not painful, the first I felt nothing until the C part of it.

I am now just going to go the day before to the hospital to get my bloods done and will follow all the tips you ladies have suggested.

Good luck everyone, hope all went well today Vodka.

Love and hugs

PS my OH has gone mountain biking so I have no one to talk too hence the rant LOL

Aww Leeloo - I used to have to get bloods taken from my hand - just under the index finger knuckle etc. It’s just awful. Good veins on the arm that can’t be used, and rubbish ones on the one they COULD use - doesn’t stop the medics drooling over the blood supply in my “bad” arm though - we have argued the point more than once!

However, I found, in hospital, a phlebotomist is the the biz - it’s all they do ALL day and I ended up being on her list, as she could get blood from my hands painlessly, using the old fashioned way - a syringe!

Now have hickman line and LOVE it, despite the minor hassles: increased risk of infection and having to have it flushed etc.

All the best to all at the hands of your personal draculas!
Sue xx

Hello Lisa and everyone, hope your chemo went ok today Vodka?

Sue, I agree having a hickman line its out of the way and one less thing to forget about. I’m not sure what I’ve got, it only gets flushed when I have chemo and they don’t take bloods from it, so I think it might be a portacat instead.

Anyway, good luck to all hope your bloods were/are flowing well


Im so gald its not just me that had crappy veins - all my blood & chemo has to be done in hand - and only have one arm to use - it does give you a hatred of ahving it done.

I had to go to hospital last week - as i had major pain in the arm - they wanted to do bloods to check everything ok - Well the doc that arrived to do it didnt know his own strength - and he was eastern european (bit like count Dracula (but a lovley man)) - he tightened the strap so tight i nearly screamed out loud - then when he finally got blood and sent it to lab - one vail was contaminated - so he came back for more… Bit like groundhog day - so needless to say I am dreading the next attempt to get blood - which is tomorrow at my own docs surgery… So ill try water & heat …anything to make it easier…


HI all
saw my oncologist yesterday and he seems to think my veins are ok but one has had it already so cant use one again but he said if push comes to shove the will do the last one in my other arm he said that the risk of lymphodema is low it is really the blood pressure thing that seems to be the problem

hope ou get on ok today Leesha I really feel for you


Had bloods done at my docs yesterday…what can i say…i must be made of stone…I now have lovely bruised arm…despite being told that i would be hard to get blood from they just think they will be able to get it from places no-one else has ever done…Instead of going straight into my hand…the nurse said I haven’t done it in the hand for ages Ill have to get someone else!? Any way we managed 2 half bottles not one whole one - so Am now waiting for hospital to ring today to say they had enough to get a good result so I can use the mobile chemo bus tomorrow…All this waiting…


Hi Leesha
Hope you are ok for your chemo tomorrow, fingers crossed for you


Hospital says YES!!! cant believe how good it makes me feel (even though its chemo) to be able to use the mobile bus and not have to wait for hours at the hospital - If the man on the phone had been by me I would have kissed him when he said i was ok to use the bus!! Its the little things that are important here… So i am not now sat here dreading the hospital visit again. Amazing!!!

Hope everyone else having a good(ish) day


i have to go to my chemo nurse to get my pre chemo bloods done now. the nurse at my GP’s dug about in 3 different place to try and get blood until i told her to stop. the chemo nurse have said they want to do it as they are used to dealing with difficult veins and they can’t have someone digging about in difrent parts of my arm leaving them little to work with for my chemo. still hurts like hell though getting needles shoved in.