Comic Relief: Fun in IV Class

Yep, that’s IV as in intravenous. And yep, sometimes we nurses have to take refresher courses in performing this basic nursing skill, which is as much of an art as a science. I used to be one of the best IV starters at the local hospital…..hell, I’d even get called down to the ICU if they had a hard stick (that’s a person who, for one reason or another, is hard to start an IV on). But that was a long time ago…….eight years, to be exact.

That’s not to mean I haven’t craved the adrenalin rush of getting an IV in a combative 400-lb. alcoholic in DTs. Every time I’ve had to call 911 for a resident in one of my assisted living facilities, my fingers have literally itched as the paramedics worked to get a line in…..sometimes they’d have trouble with the dehydrated elderly ladies with spindly veins, and I wanted to just push them out of the way, say “OK, boys, lemme show you how a PRO does it!” and slam that puppy right in there.

Well…..I wasn’t quite THAT awesome, but I was definitely good, and I’ve missed using that skill something fierce. So when my boss asked me the other day if I wanted to take the class, I jumped at the chance. Just a small class of six nurses, none of whom really wanted to be there in the morning, but I was practically salivating at the sight of IV needles and tubing and other related items to play with. (Yeah, I know I’m weird, but isn’t that why you read my blog in the first place? 😉 )

Strangely enough, only one other nurse and I had started IVs on actual patients before, but then we were the only ones who’d worked in hospitals in another life. Practicing on a rubber arm with ropes for veins is nothing like doing it on a living human being with veins that are often hard to find, and which tend to play hide-and-seek when we’re going after them with a needle. Now, she and I were both pretty rusty, but once we got going, a lot of it came back and we got our lines in on the first try.

Damn, it felt good to hold a 22-gauge angiocath again! I felt like an old gunslinger who’s been out of circulation for years, and then someone puts a Colt .45 in his hand and all the old moves come right back. Yee-HAW!!

Now, I’ll tell you something about adult learners: We have a really low tolerance for boredom. Power Point presentations put us to sleep, and unfortunately so does the food served at most of these affairs. Thankfully, the instructor was more about substance than style, and she was a lively presenter who really engaged us with her quick wit. Still, our energy was flagging by about 2 PM, and we took a short break.

During this break, I noticed that one nurse was reading an educational handout called Understanding Bipolar Disorder. She’s taking classes toward a higher nursing degree, as it turns out, and this was evidently part of the curriculum.

Well, since I’m “out” at work and don’t have a shy bone in my body, I leaned over and piped up with “Hey, if you ever want to know anything about that, you can always ask me.” I meant it as a joke, but she was immediately intrigued and mentioned something about cyclothymia, which she had just gotten done reading about.

“Oh, yeah, Bipolar Lite,” I said, whereupon she spewed a mouthful of water across the room and broke into choking laughter. She had apparently never heard this expression before, and when I added that the kind I have is the “full meal deal”, she laughed even harder. (Gosh, I love cracking people up…..I must’ve been a class clown in a former life.) Then she said “You’re so happy all the time—you’re like, oh, who’s that actor……oh yeah, Robin Williams!” to the amusement of the other nurses in the room.

Now, if truth be told, I’d much rather be likened to Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is as classy a bipolar as anyone could ever be, than the wild-and-crazy Williams, who seems to swing between manic comic and raging asshole. I’m not a raging asshole. (Well, most of the time anyway.) But, there is a grain of truth there, and I’d prefer to think it’s just because I show my happy face at work and leave the frowny face at home.

The rest of the day passed quickly, as everyone was wide awake after all the hubbub died down, and we were pretty much all in agreement that the class had been useful. So now that I’ve finally gotten to hold an IV needle in my nimble fingers again, I’m ready to roll. (Pssst—anyone up for some fluids that come in a clear plastic bag instead of a cup or a bottle? I need more practice!)



Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

7 thoughts on “Comic Relief: Fun in IV Class

  1. At this point I would love some iv fluids and a foley cath so I could get some SLEEP – this dang cold/flu is making me crazy and every time I cough I pee! but I have to drink, too 😦


  2. I know, right? Reminds me of the cartoon with the old lady who talks about how talented she is—she can bend over, laugh, sneeze, cough, and pee all at the same time! 😀


  3. I am one of those crabby old ladies who is a “hard stick.” You will never get close to me with a needle! My vein shrink at the word “needle.” Yep, tiny, spider leg type of veins that “roll over” when touched by a needle. I even “go to sleep” if the ordeal is too traumatic!


  4. I’m a nurse, as well. I haven’t worked as a nurse for a very long time. I decided I wanted to be a stay at home mom and raise our 4 children, myself. I wanted to hear the first words, witness the fist steps and all the other milestones, as well as knowing they were safe each and every day, not having to worry about how they may be being treated by anyone else. I in turn, became a day care provider, myself, just to earn a small amount of money to help and feel like I was working and contributing, even though, I know that being a stay at home mom is the hardest, most fulfilling job on this planet. I love children and fell in love with each child that I was trusted to care for, I always became attached and those children were like family to me. Those parents don’t have to worry about how those children were taken care of
    About the IV deal, I’m one of the hard “sticks” as I have small veins, and have had several surgeries, was given TPN through an IV until all the usual veins were damaged for good, before they decided to give me a pic line, which should have been done in the first place. I always appreciate the person who is able to get that IV in on the first attempt, as I know with me, it’s not an easy task. Good luck on your journey. I will enjoy following you and reading your interesting posts. Have an awesome day.


    1. Thank you, Tammy, and welcome to! I checked out your blog tonight and like it, as well. I appreciate your outreach, and wish you well on your own journey. 🙂


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