Lidocaine is a local anesthetic. It is used extensively in surgeries to make areas of the body numb before making an incision. It is often used before dialysis to make the area where the needles are going to be inserted, numb.
Many people do not use lidocaine. The argument is the lidocaine itself is painful while injecting. So, why bother? I used to use lidocaine every day but was advised by many people not to use it. I then stopped using it without too many problems.
For the past few weeks, however, despite using buttonhole needles, cannulation had become painful. I dreaded the whole process. Even the venous sites, which were generally really trouble-free for months, started paining. And it was not the angle that was wrong. I was cannulating myself everyday, so I couldn't get the angle wrong.
A couple of days back, I decided to use lidocaine after I read on the 'I hate dialysis' forums that others too, had similar problems. I somehow believed, for the longest time, that I was the only person in the world who couldn't bear the pain with buttonhole needles. Pain with buttonholes? Nah, don't be a sissy! The needles are blunt, for God's sake! I could almost hear fellow dialyzors from the US say. But then I read this thread on the forums that had people say that the buttonhole needles pained too.
I started using a little lidocaine - just a tiny bit - in both the venous and the arterial sites. The pain is Z-E-R-O. As simple as that. Well, there are possible side effects of using lidocaine. I really can't help that. It just makes my life much simpler to deal with. So, for now, I am going to continue using lidocaine and have painless cannulations.