First time having an op, can you help?

Having escaped op since dx’ed in 2009 and all my life so far, I’m about to have an op on my spine. Lots of questions, some could sound quite silly, but if you can help, I’d be very grateful.

One of the major worries is that I’ve got a reputation for bad veins, especially when I get cold. Am I right in saying they’ll need to access my vein for an op requiring GA? How am I supposed to keep warm in those really thin hospital clothes? What about hot water bottles and/or microwave wheat bags? Can I use those?

Any other tips?

Looking forward to pain free days after the op, but extremely nervous about it.

Thanks. M xx

I don’t know if I can I can help much. But I can tell you a recent experience I had with ga. the did need to get a canula in the back of my hand, but it wasn’t too bad for me. I know in my chemo unit they use plug in things to put on my hands to heat them up. Another thing suggested to me was gloves which I am guessing is a possible. I would just let the team operating in you how rubbish your veins can be.
As for keeping warm, I took a dressing gown, sock and slippers to keep me warm. I was only in for a day but I always feel the cold!
Have the hospital not advised you at all?
Wishing you lots of luck for the op. I am sure more advice will be along soon.


I get really cold too.I walked down to theatre in my hospital gown, own dressing gown and slippers (so take a nice snuggly one) and then I had to lie in the pre-op area. I told them I got cold and they covered me up with lots of blankets and said they would be blowing warm air over me while I was under. They put a cannula in the vein in the back of my hand and everything went in through there, antibiotics as well as the GA. The veins in the back of my hand are quite scarred from repeated operations (for things other than BC!) but they still managed OK.

When I woke up I was wrapped in so many blankets I couldn’t work out how to get out of them! So my tip is just to tell them you get cold and let them look after you. When I had traction and couldn’t wear pyjama bottoms or a long nightie I had a small fleecy blanket which I put over my tummy and upper thighs so maybe take something like that. And perhaps some bedsocks?

Good luck, it’s scarey thinking about it but the staff where I had my last two operations were superb and did everything they could to make me comfortable. I’m sure you’ll have the same.


I had my mx with lymph clearance back in september last year, definitely tell them that you are worried about your veins and about being too cold, another tip is remember to empty your bladder before you go under, one of the other ladies on my ward woke up without her underwear on and realized she had wet herself when she was anesthetized, this is normal if your bladder is full, so I would make sure you’ve spent a penny before going under.

I know its frightening and your bound to be apprehensive I was the same never had anything to do with hospitals and drs before all of this, your going to be just fine just like I was, they will take good care of you, really hope this op will help with the pain you mentioned. Remember they do perform ops all the time, we are here when you come round and will be (virtually) holding your hand all the way through it.

Sending you lots of love, light, hugs and healing vibes

Hi girls,

Thanks for suggestions so far. Rae, my hospital did give me some advise, but didn’t realize how cold it can get until I went for my scans yesterday! They just couldn’t find a vein to put the contrast in and in the end I had the scans without the contrast. It just made me a bit worried that what’s going to happen on the day of the op.

I was blessed with a chemo nurse that was brilliant at finding veins, so kind of forgot how tricky they can be. Yesterday they got the timing wrong completely and made me wait in the cold for 20min! And that was it! My vein completely disappeared and there was no way they could warm me up again.

Sounds like there are lots of things can be done and I’ll just need to let them know.

Thanks M xx

lol, sarah!! I’m definitely make sure I do that. I always feel like needing the ladies when I get nervous!

Hi M1yu

I have Reynauds disease - so that means my hands and feet get very cold very quickly and can cause all sorts of problems. One of the difficulties is I have very poor veins.

When I had my op, I went down to theatre with a bed jacket and bed socks on and an extra blanket. They then put my hand in a bowl of warm water to bring the veins up, still took a while but they got the cannula in.

last week I had a MUGA scan and used the hot water again and it did help.

I start my chemo on Wednesday so am going to hospital on Tuesday for a portacath fitting so won’t have this problem again.

With my Reynauds, I have to be vigilant as i can develop hypothermia. I find those little hand warmers that golfers use are absolutely brilliant - gloves just don’t keep me warm enough. And bed socks, the lovely thick fluffy ones are also excellent.

Good luck, be prepared and all will be well:)

Pixie xx

Hi there

Anaesthetists are absolutely amazing at getting canulas in. I got extremely cold before one op I had and my veins collapsed and no-one could get a cannula in. I was terrified my op would be cancelled but the anaesthetist came along and did it straight away.

You may have a preop assessment with a nurse or doctor in which case I would mention that you have Raynauds and problems getting a vein. You will almost certainly see the anaesthetist before the op so again mention to him/her.

as Pixie says I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t do things like having a thick cardigan on or extra blankets etc.

I hope your op goes well
elinda x

Is there any reason that you have to wait until the day of the operation until you get your canula? When I have to have a CT scan (it is always freezing in their waiting room) I go to the chemo suite where I get my regular treatment, they are used to me and my veins, any put in a canula either the day before or earlier on the day of my CT scan appointment. All the canula needs is a quick flush and it is ready for action. It is just a thought - it would not hurt to ask.


Hi M1yu
Will be thinking of you for the op and look forward to hearing from you once you are back on the ward.
Do let the staff know clearly what your needs are. My experiences have always been excellent with operations. The staff have been very caring.I have felt very looked after and done my own thing re what I wear and what I eat. My husband used to bring lots of healthy grub in for me.
Ear plugs or Ipod may be helpful if you are on a noisy ward.
Pleased you are still hoping to be using your microwaveabl heat pad!!

Speaking as a theatre nurse, you have nothing to fear. We always warm our patients throughout their surgery, so they are nice and toastie when they get to recovery. Dont worry about the vein problem. Anaesthetists are dab hands at finding even the tiniest, and once you’re asleep, they then manage to find bigger ones which would be too uncomfortable to find whilst you’re awake. I wish you all the best, Leigh x