R, you probably shouldn’t read this post. You too, any reader who is fainty around needle-talk.
This morning I knew I had to go in for blood work. The previous two times I’d had blood drawn, I had less than stellar experiences. The last time, the phlebotomist jabbed both arm-crooks multiple times (complete with twisting, poking, the whole hokey pokey) and never did get a “real” drop of blood. The time before that, they took three vials and I blacked out. Whee! So, knowing that I needed to prepare my body for this fun ordeal, I ate a really good breakfast and took care to be super hydrated before going to the doctor. The first half of the appointment was informative, and I want to write about it, but I’m going to save that for a little later. This post is about blood.
So I go down the hall after the paperwork portion of the meeting. I’ve got a full bladder because they want to do urinalysis as well to make sure I don’t have any infections or anything, but of course, they start with the blood. “Great,” I think to myself. “Now I’ve really got to make sure that I don’t black out, because I do not want to wet my pants here in the middle of the doctor’s office.” The frighteningly no-nonsense phlebotomist plopped me down in a padded chair and pulled not three, not four, but six big vials out of the tub. Without any sort of preface or questions about past problems with blood drawing, she strapped the big rubber band on my left arm and began tapping… and then began prodding… and then pinching…
“Are they hiding?” I asked through tight lips, looking steadfastly off to the right.
“Yeah… they do that…”
“It’s because you’re a redhead,” she told me. “Your veins always hide. And you bruise easily. It’s weird.”
After a while, I guess she decided that she might as well take a stab at it (ha ha!) so in went the needle. This is not anyone’s favorite thing, but to me, the actual pain of penetration isn’t as bad as having it stick in there for several minutes. Nevertheless, as she twisted and moved the needle, I was… less than comfortable. I glared at my water bottle.
What felt like ten minutes passed. I didn’t look, but I was pretty sure she hadn’t ever reached for a vial. Then she pulled off the rubber band and handed me a piece of gauze to hold against the crook of my arm.
“Is the right arm any better?” she asked.
“Not generally,” I replied.
“That’s not the answer I wanted to hear.”
Not to be deterred, the right arm got the same treatment: rubber band, fist, tapping, prodding, pinching, a painful insertion of the needle, much twisting and shifting… and nothing.
Now I had gauze on both arms and was wondering what in the world was wrong with my veins. And then she said the words I really, really didn’t want to hear: “I need to find a smaller needle. We’re going to have to use your hand.”
(This is the point at which I had to convince myself that I wasn’t going to cry, btw.)
As my tech went off in search of a freaking hand needle, the woman sitting at the next chair (oh yeah, I had an audience for this whole thing) told me she felt sorry for me — that they always got her vein on the first try. Bully for you, lady. Trade ya.
And then she was back, and there was a reverse-IV in my poor left hand (which is SO much more painful than an arm needle, btw) and then we got to enjoy the agonizingly slow process of trying to coax six big vials of blood through an itty bitty needle in a hand vein.
I did not cry or pass out or wet my pants. For this, I think I deserve commendation. And probably a steak dinner.
I guess I’m going to have to give up my dreams of a life as a heroin addict…