Nurses with Vasovagal response problems?

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    I am a recent college graduate who has decided to pursue a career in another direction - nursing. I will be starting the science pre-reqs that I need to apply to nursing school this fall. I have a concern though. When I give blood, I generally experience what I have been told is a Vasovagal response. I get light headed/dizzy, sweaty, vision narrows, etc and need to recline. Recently I experienced the same reaction when having blood draw for a test. The nurse was slow and had trouble finding my vein, and I had the same reaction.

    Long story short is I am concerned that I will go through a lot of work to get into nursing school and then be bounced out because I have this condition. I am not particularly put off by the nasties of the human body and receiving injections does not bother me, but I am worried about this. Obviously there is a whole LOT to nursing beyond drawing blood, but is this something that could be a game breaker for me?
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    Depending on the severity of your response, it might be wise to seek some cognitive-behavioral therapy if this is something that truly concerns you. It could save you some money and stress in the long run. Not all practicing nurses deal with lots of blood every day, but it definitely will be a part of nursing school.
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    Ya fair enough. The strange part (although maybe its not strange) is that blood itself doesn't really bother me. Even watching my own flow out of me (I was a very active child and gave myself more than a fair share of really deep cuts that bled profusely) isn't really a big deal. For some reason though, having it drawn via needle does the trick. If I look away while I'm laying down, I can usually get by but if we are sitting there taking turns drawing blood from each other in nursing school, that's gonna be a problem. I was thinking about trying to observe at a local blood drive to see if watching other people have theirs drawn affects me - is that something that I would be allowed to do?
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    Do you have that response when you watch other people having blood drawn? It could be a somatic response and not a psych response.

    I was recently in observing in the cath lab and the RN there told me that younger patients tend to 'vagal down' when the artery is punctured for insertion of the catheter. Maybe this is a similar response to what you are experiencing? If it is an actual physical response to them inserting the needle into your vein, then I think you should be fine in school.
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    Quote from RyanAL
    Ya fair enough. The strange part (although maybe its not strange) is that blood itself doesn't really bother me. Even watching my own flow out of me (I was a very active child and gave myself more than a fair share of really deep cuts that bled profusely) isn't really a big deal. For some reason though, having it drawn via needle does the trick. If I look away while I'm laying down, I can usually get by but if we are sitting there taking turns drawing blood from each other in nursing school, that's gonna be a problem. I was thinking about trying to observe at a local blood drive to see if watching other people have theirs drawn affects me - is that something that I would be allowed to do?
    My guess is that you'd have more luck if you volunteered to help at the blood drive. You could pass out cookies and juice or something. That way you could observe on the sly.

    Definitely something you're gonna want to have cleared up before you hit the deck on your first IV stick!
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    I experience a vasovagal response to severe pain or moderate cuts, but only on myself. I have been in nursing school for 6 months and have removed IVs, given several injections, seen PICC lines removed, stage 4 pressure ulcers dressed, blood draws, surgery etc and have no problems. I think my response relates only to my own personal injuries and not observing others. I would definitely try to see if your particular response is only for blood drawn on yourself or anytime you see blood drawn. I think the idea of volunteering at a blood drive is a good one, although you might want to convince a friend to volunteer with you, just in case you need emotional support. Good luck!
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    I experience this too, but only when it's on myself. I can watch or perform on others without trouble.

    Are you positive that you will be doing blood draws on each other? In my program, the only "painful" procedure we do on each other are blood sugars.
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    WOW Its so good to hear that someone else experiences the exact same thing I do! It started with me the very first time I went to a blood drive to give blood for my friend who had been in a car accident. They inserted the needle and as they were setting up the rest of their equipment I passed out. I remembered everything getting blurry and I couldn't hear them around me and it was like I took an extremely long nap lol. The next time I had to be put in the hospital for some tests and before the nurse started my IV both my mother and I told her that I tend to pass out when the actual physical part of the need is going into my vein. She didnt get it on the first stick so she is redirecting and jabbing in my arm and I passed out immediately...I TRIED TO TELL HER LOL! But I don't just pass out, like I draw up and it looks like I am having a seizure or something everyone says! I worked at a hospital and was trained as a phlebotomist and I drew blood for eight hours straight sometimes and never once got sick or passed out! In nursing school I have seen many many things that have not made me have that response. I am in my 4th semester out of 5 and this semester for some reason I have gotten very close to passing out twice, but it usually has something to do with me going to see a surgery without having eaten breakfast or if I become emotionally attached to a patient and then I see them in pain or I have to do something that causes them pain, then I just about pass out. However strange this may be it has not stopped me from continuing in the nursing program! I could not see myself in any other profession and despite having to repeat classes and wait out semesters for my turn to get back on track, and being diagnosed with Narcolepsy..I am still here in the program and hopefully will graduate by the grace of God in December 2010! Good luck to you and just NEVER GIVE UP!!!
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    Quote from RyanAL
    Ya fair enough. The strange part (although maybe its not strange) is that blood itself doesn't really bother me. Even watching my own flow out of me (I was a very active child and gave myself more than a fair share of really deep cuts that bled profusely) isn't really a big deal. For some reason though, having it drawn via needle does the trick. If I look away while I'm laying down, I can usually get by but if we are sitting there taking turns drawing blood from each other in nursing school, that's gonna be a problem. I was thinking about trying to observe at a local blood drive to see if watching other people have theirs drawn affects me - is that something that I would be allowed to do?

    I don't know how it is else where, but at my hospital, you rarely ever see a nurse drawing blood. We have a phlebotomy team and an IV team. The only time I have seen a nurse draw blood was from a central line already in place, it connected to something, I didn't see exactly what and we can't work with central lines yet in school, but she didn't have to insert a needle into his skin.

    I use needles all the time, but to draw up meds and then put them in saline flushes unless it's an injection.

    On a semi related note, I can never watch the injection for myself. I always turn my head and then watch, same with blood draws. I don't have the same kind of reaction, just how I always have been. I can do injections for others, haven't started an IV or drawn blood though on a person. Well now I am giving myself injections. Sub Q ones in the abdomen. I went to do my first one 2 days ago and came so close to turning my head when I went to dart. Would not have been smart lol

    Maybe you can go shadow for a couple days and see what all is involved and what you can handle?
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    I think you just need to figure out whether this happens only when blood is being drawn on you or whether it happens when blood is drawn on others. I've come close to passing out several times when I've given blood. The first time I gave blood, I had that response even before getting on the cot! Even when I got routine blood draws during pregnancy, I ALWAYS told them that I needed to lay down while they did it. One time i gave blood during a drive and couldn't get up. I was diaphoretic, lightheaded and dizzy. They head tech there had me laying down with cool towels on my head. I was laying there so long that my mother finally came over and asked what was wrong. She got really angry and got me food. The head tech came over and starting yelling at my mother until she told him to buzz off because she was an RN. The last time I gave blood (about 2 years ago), I had to lay there for about an hour until I felt well enough to get up.

    Watching other people does not bother me. Doesn't even bother me (from a physiological standpoint!) to watch my children have blood drawn (my child had a rare genetic disease so the poor thing has been a bit of a pin cushion over the last couple years). Last time she gave blood, they wanted mine as well so they could test both of us. For the very first time, I sat up and watched as they did it. Suddenly I was fascinated b/c I understood what they were doing and I wanted to see which vein they when into, etc.


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