A Tale of Two Hands

To the untrained eye, my hands in the following photograph may not seem very different – each has an IV in it. However, to me, this picture represents the two types of experiences one can have in the hospital: excellent and crappy. And so much of that experience comes down to the people who work there and their talent and skill – or lack of one or both.

Which would you prefer?

Let’s start with the image on the left, which is my right hand. This is an example of a beautiful IV insertion with its stat lock and white tape and lack of excess tape. Everything is positioned perfectly. All in all, an excellent job.

The image on the right, my left hand, has no stat lock and looks like something I might do if I had the mind to insert my own IV, which I think I could do if the world was coming to an end and my life depended on it. I wouldn’t like it, but I could do it, though I might need the help of someone’s finger to stop the bleeding when I pulled the needle out. Look at the massive amount of tape used to keep the line in place because the thin white tape and stat lock weren’t used. I lost a lot of hair when we removed it.

Now here’s a question for you: Which site went bad and caused my hand to swell up and turn red? Easy answer isn’t it? I’ve been elevating my left hand for the past week to get the swelling down. The vein is rock hard above and below the insertion site. And it hurts. My medical diagnosis is Puffer Fish Hand.

This distinction between medical excellence and crumminess doesn’t stop at IV sites. It happens daily in the hospital with tests, procedures, and doctors. And for someone who stays in a hospital once in their lifetime, then the IV site on the right might not make much difference in the long run. However, I’ve stayed at the hospital four times this year and spent almost a month and a half there. The difference in the two types of care does matter because I’m exposed to more of these swings in quality the longer I’m there. They add up. And many result in more than a fat, tender hand.

Worst of all, not every difference in care can be photographed. The ones that can’t be seen scare me the most.

10 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Hands

  1. It looks like a child has had a go at putting that line in! Time for a port? At least when they are accessed they can get blood through it to save anymore needle related trauma for your veins. Plus it would free up your hands so you can at least scratch your arse without the fear of ripping the line out! 😉
    Anyway I hope you feel better soon mate, take it easy.

    • It’s always nice to hear from you. I wish we lived closer and could hang out and watch cricket.

      The port is coming. I’ve spoken to the clinic about it. Now I just have to live through this last midline, which was supposed to be a picc.

      Feeling much better thanks to you.

  2. So true. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I think you’ll really enjoy next Wednesday’s post, Unknown. It speaks to this subject and the best part is…I hardly wrote a word of it.

    Here’s to more “right hands”, and a lot less “left hands.”

  3. So true. The unfortunate truth is that unless you know better, staff and facilities are free to do as they wish and most of the time the patients are none the wiser. The bottom line is that we all have to be our own advocate, especially when you have nurses placing IV sites that look like that 😦 Sorry about your puffer fish hand……hope youre feeling better. ~j

    • Thank you for confirming that the left hand had a shit IV in it. I swear it looks like an 8 year-old put it in and used half a roll of tape on it.

      Puffer fish hand will be my new super villain name. I’ll slap some people around with it. Beware the puffer fish hand. It hurts.

      Hope all is well with you. Glad you’re in the house. Can’t wait to see some pics. Your xmas should be a blast.

  4. Oh, I HATE puffer fish hand!! In fact, the hand is my least favorite IV spot. After 12 weeks in the hospital last year I said “enough already” and insisted on a port. Naturally, I’ve only needed it once this year! May it be a harbinger of easier days for you, too, UC. Glad you feel like posting.

    • Yes, my time has come for a port. I just have to make it through this last PICC turned mid-line. The thing is causing me fits. It bled earlier in the week and now it’s bleeding tonight. God, don’t let me get a clot on my last one.

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