Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gassing the Anesthesiologist: A Story fromt the Wayback Machine

I went into labor on a Friday morning. Rolled over in bed and 'pop' went my water.

It was a slow labor. Nothing much happened after that. Not even Pitocin could make the baby get a move on, although I did manage a vaginal birth. By the skin of my teeth--they actually prepped me for an emergency C section but backed off when the baby's heart rate recovered.

So upon being admitted to L&D, they like to start an IV and make sure I haven't been hooking with the wrong guys. (It seems in our society pregnant = hooker with the way they test and test for every STD on the planet.)

An anesthesiologist strutted into our room, proud as a peacock at the Playboy mansion.

He couldn't find a vein.

Now, I can be a hard stick. Sometimes. And when it goes badly, it really goes badly (the same can be said of the asthma too). Usually I like to lean with my arm hanging down for a good 10-15 minutes before a stick. This often does the trick, but there was no time. The anesthesiologist was ready now and it was all about him.

I am pretty good about multiple sticks. Heck, I did IVF, I gave myself shots. I'm no delicate flower. So I'm not squeamish, but I don't like to look and I like a break after 10 tries or so to just kind of breathe for a second. I told him to do what he needed to do and he rooted and rooted and rooted.

I bit my lip and refrained from sharing that the lab at the OB's office got me on the first try every time for the entire 41 weeks of my pregnancy. Didn't want to give him any performance anxiety.

The anesthesiologist finally got a vein, which promptly collapsed and just a mere trickle of blood hit the test tube. "I'm not sure it's enough for the lab, but I'm done," he said with a sigh of aggravation. I saw the tube, it wasn't even 1/5th full.

This has happened before. I've gone through battalions of nurses, had doctors try only to give up, had to drive to second locations to give other staff a stab at me. Time record is an hour and a half. Stick record: 17. Like I said, when I'm a bad stick, I'm the stuff of nightmares.

From there the anesthesiologist turned to inserting the IV, which he got in, but in a very bad spot. The IV was painful, unusually so, and I could tell I was going to have problems with it.

I asked for it to be moved and was told "No, you're too hard a stick. By the way, you need to get your moles checked."

Kind of an ass the anesthesiologist.

I labored for the first day, keeping my arm ramrod straight. The needle was in a spot where I couldn't flex my arm without compromising the IV. This made labor fun! Not.

Eventually,it became apparent that I had made no progress despite 8 hours of Pitocin. It was time to figure out how to manage the rest of what was clearly going to be a long slow labor. I hadn't had any pain meds at this point, but I needed rest so we asked for an epidural.

Whaddaya know, but the same anesthesiologist comes through the door, all full of himself. The usual epidural prep ensued and, as I leaned over, waiting for the needle to slide between my vertebrae, I farted.

In the anesthesiologist's unmasked face.

Total accident. I was mortified.

But there was an undeniable comedic justice in the moment.

Unfortunately, it didn't smell nearly as bad as his ego deserved.

As it turned out, I was right to be concerned about the IV. It 'burst' and filled my arm with fluid after the birth. I was so tired and preoccupied with the baby being in the NICU, I didn't notice my arm swelling up like I'd been bitten by a rattlesnake. By the time the pain made me pay attention, my arm had doubled in size. When they removed the IV, there was so much pressure, fluid shot out like I had a water gun implanted in there.

The arm hurt for the next 9 months and was weak with limited functionality. Add in my other bum wrist, and breastfeeding was a challenge. I count on my left to be the strong arm, but there were many many times I was worried about it collapsing as I lifted the baby. It did heal, but left a pronounced lump in my arm which I was told is a scar.

I never complained and I regret it. He was so arrogant and so uninterested in my comfort, he really needed to be taken down a peg. Also, he was still in training (resident) so I would have been doing a kindness to every other woman he touched after me.

Oh and the RN who inserted the new IV? Got me in one stick, in a good place that didn't bother me at all.


  1. I'm so sorry you went through all of that! Difficult IV starts are a nightmare for everyone involved - been there as both the patient and the nurse, several times.

  2. No need for apologies--you didn't do anything wrong. I survived. But now you have a way to motivate doctors to wear masks during epidurals. Self-defense. ;)


  3. I'm sorry for your troubles with the inexperienced medical "professionals" and that you now have a permanent reminder of the anesthesiologists callus attitude, but I just LMAO-ed when you said you FARTED in his face!!! ❤ Haaahaaa. He deserved to be sharted upon! Thank you for "sharing" 😆


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