Learning how to do Injections

Community Nursing. Here’s another one of those things I just did not appreciate existed. There are these lovely nurses out there who come to your house to support you with some of the things you either struggle with or don’t want to do – and by ‘don’t want to do’ I mean things like, giving your own child his injections, changing an NG feeding tube … checking on stoma care etc…

Personally, I would rather just learn everything I possibly can just to avoid having to make another appointment about it. We have enough!

So last week, I learned how to give a subcutaneous injection (or subcut as they are known by the professionals).

My fridge really could double as a medicine cabinet, but there – on the top shelf is a handful of sharp stabby packets of Epo needles. These come in a small vacuum pack with the needle and Epo medicine separate – the medicine is in a glass vile and the needle is wearing a (very reassuring) plastic hat. 

It’s a small needle. Subcutaneous means it’s only going in the skin – not muscle – so it is fairly short. Although, in comparison to Dominic it’s still proportionally massive.

First things first – wash hands, clear safe clean space to prep needle, get sharps bin out, get husband to get Dominic ready (remove trousers)

The ‘least painful’ place on a baby is their thighs – specifically that flabby bit that sticks out on the side of your thighs when you sit down. I get James to hold Dominic across him horizontally and hold his legs still. It is important to swap legs with the jab so I check my chart for which leg I did last time then make sure I’m aiming for the other one!

As I said, the needle is in two bits. First I take off the cap on the vial then pop on the needle (leaving the plastic on it so it stays sterile and I don’t stab myself by accident). Then I remove the plastic from the needle and push the plunger at the end of the vial until the medicine peeks out the top of the needle – removing the air bubble. 

Quick alcohol swipe of Dominic’s leg (not especially necessary, but makes me feel better) then push the needle at 45 degrees into his thigh. Apparently you can do this at 90 degrees too… but his legs just look too small! The whole point is that the needle isn’t big enough to go anywhere it shouldn’t so you don’t really have to worry. 

Push the plunger slowly, over a count of 10ish, then pause to make sure the medicine has finished leaving the needle – and withdraw.

Put needle in sharps bin (don’t put plastic hat back on it… unnecessary risk of stabbing yourself) and just press a gauze against the area.

All done!

That said.. the action of stabbing your baby son in the leg deliberately with a sharp needle is alien in the extreme. In order that it’s not just me being evil – I’m going to teach James so we can swap every other week. I wonder if he’ll be ok with this plan…. you really do have to overcome some proper internal struggles to stab your baby in the leg… even if you know it’s actually helping them.


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