Saturday, 18 July 2009

IV - or not IV?

I've been on call today and given six intravenous injections. I haven't missed a vein once.

Not that impressed? Well, I am here to tell, young reader, that you should, because giving an IV injection is not quite a simple as they make it look on the telly. It always really bugs me on some programme or other, when someone needs to be sedated really quickly, the hero/heroine just grabs an arm and fires away. Yeah, good luck with that buddy/buddess - you've just given a subcutaneous. Or an intramuscular if you pushed hard enough.

Okay, maybe I'm getting too worked up about this - but I've seen it too many times not to feel peeved that a skill which I acutally possess is so undersold by mass media. I am, in real life, what you might call a doofus. You might call me that, if you were being polite and didn't want to call me a clumsy idiot. No mug of coffee is safe from me. If you have red wine and white carpets, I would advise you never to let me into your house.

However, somehow, when I am in vet mode, I am pretty goshdarn good at getting an injection to go where I want it do go. To get an IV, you need a steady hand, and a gentle touch. A client of mine who was a nurse told me that they practiced their IV on cats - because if you can get a cat's vein, you can get anything.

Now imagine that cat would like to eat your eyeballs. Now further imagine that said Corinthian-cat's owner would not allow you to clip any fur from its leg, because 'it's going to a show at the weekend' (For some reason, show judges, who actively encourage producing animals which look they have repeatedly been hit in the face with a cricket bat, and are so deformed that if they sneeze hard their eyes can prolapse, feel that a clipped patch on a foreleg looks unsightly) and perhaps you will understand why I'm a little proud of the fact that I can hit a vein fairly often.

I am, of course, not on my own amongst the veterinary profession at being able to perform this particular task, but I must fight against my natural modesty and immense charm to bring you the news that I am actually better than quite a few others I have worked with. It is not unusual for other vets to ask me to come and try and get blood/fit an IV catheter for them. As you can imagine, when I get that lovely flush of blood back in my syringe, I make no fuss about it. There may be a little dancing involved. There may be some asking of the nurses 'Who's the Daddy?' (They never seem to know who the Daddy is, though.)

You might call it my super-power. I could be Vein Man! (Though now I think about it I'd have to spell it prominently on my mighty chest or people might think I just really loved myself)

(NB - I may have near-legendary vein-hitting skills, but a chimpanzee with no arms and a stitched up mouth could bandage an IV catheter better than me. Hey, a guy's got to have some limits to his power, hasn't he? I've got to leave some jobs for other people)

So, the next time you see someone stabbed in the arm aimlessly with a syringe, and thereupon fall instantly to the ground in sedated stupor, stand up and shout at your television set 'We demand realism! Don't devalue a skill that people are proud to attain!'

Go on. Please. At least think it a bit? Thank you.

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