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Inserting Your Own Needles

By John Newmann

You may want to consider learning how to insert your own needles. You can't imagine the sense of independence and relief that comes from this self-care task. You may need some help from a nurse or technician to steady your vein. Here are the benefits I experienced:

  1. You concentrate so fully, you seldom feel the stick.
  2. You know right away if you're in the middle or at the side of the vein. That's because you not only sense the needle sliding into the vein, but you can usually feel it with the fingers holding the needle you're inserting.
  3. It's great for travel, as you never know who will be cannulating (the medical term for sticking) you.
  4. It's likely that your stress level will decrease, because you won't need to worry about who will be sticking you.
  5. You enjoy a new sense of independence because you are in control.

At first, you'll probably be nervous about your own ability. As you get more experience, you'll get to know your vein well, and gain more confidence.

It takes patience and a good "sticker" to teach you. It makes all the difference after you've learned how! While it's not for everyone, my own past experience (inserting my own needles for over 15 years) confirms it is worth an honest try, once your fistula has matured to the point where your doctor, nurse, or experienced tech considers it appropriate.

Good luck!

Permission received to post the following information:

Name: John M. Newmann, PhD, MPH
Cause of renal failure: Interstitial pyelonephritis
Time on dialysis: 18 years
Treatments used: Home hemodialysis, in-center hemodialysis, CAPD, CCPD, cadaveric and living related-donor transplants
Work/other activities: Health policy, research, and consulting in ESRD; Past President, current Board of Directors, American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP); Board of Directors and Kidney Pancreas Committee, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS); Professional Program Committee, American Kidney Fund (AKF); Advisory Panel, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC); Work Group on Developing Practice Guidelines on Foregoing/Discontinuing Dialysis, Renal Physicians' Association (RPA); Emeritus Member, Life Options Rehabilitation Advisory Council (LORAC)
Date: April 1999

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