Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sanguinely Reluctant

I knew I was in trouble when the (so I thought) lab tech asked if I had good veins. Because I do not. Today my blood was not anxious to be drawn.

When I was 10 and had mononucleosis, I discovered to my dismay that it’s difficult for the inexperienced lab tech to find my veins. On more than one occasion, they made a false start and ended up prodding and poking me mercilessly.

In my adult years, usually making a fist will cause enough of a vein to pop up. But sometimes it needs more encouragement. My low blood pressure may be a contributing factor.

Today when I went in for my pre-physical lab work at 8:15 am, clutching my small glass of OJ (since I couldn’t eat anything this morning), I noticed that the lab area was totally dark. When someone finally showed up in that area, I overheard them say none of the lab people had come to work today. Instead a nurse would be taking blood.

When it was finally my turn, I was a little intimidated by her initial question about my veins, but hoped for the best. I always close my eyes as I wait for that jab and listen for the little vials to be filled and capped. She started with my right arm, but after a couple of minutes and a lot of digging around with the needle, announced that nothing much was coming out. When she asked if I wanted to look, I wondered what in the world she thought I could do about the situation other than faint.

So she switched to the left arm and eventually had much better success. She must have been a little worried that I might pass out, because she reminded me to drink my OJ after filling up the requisite little vials.

Some lab techs just exude confidence that they will be able to take what they need quickly and with little pain or discomfort. As grateful as I was to get the lab work over today, I really hope the next time around I get someone who is so skilled.


Blogger Steve said...

Youch! That sounds painful. Fortunately, I have VERY good veins, so I've never been in that position. Maybe it would help to flex your hands or arm muscles a bit before the draw?

4:38 PM  
Blogger lacochran said...

Drink a LOT of water before you go for a blood test. Say a liter a couple hours before. It helps with the veins. Honest.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- I made many fists prior to the initial stick and that seemed to do no good. Sometimes they have had me squeeze a squishy ball, but there was no such ball to squeeze today.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

LA -- Sounds good. Even when you can't eat, you can always drink water. I'll remember that for the next time around.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

I have deep veins that are tough and tend to roll. When I had mono as a college student, they once had to stick me seven times before they could draw blood. Now I tell them not to even bother with the crook of my arm, I have them use a "butterfly" needle on my hand. They often don't believe me, put that rubber band on, make me squeeze, slap the crook of my arm, feel in disbelief and then go get the butterfly needle.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Egad. That sounds terrible. Mine are bad, too. I used to give blood, now I give an excuse.

"I've been to a malarial country this year."

It's generally true but I'm not sure it matters.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- Good idea! I do recall an easier time when they drew blood out of my hand.

Kristin -- I'm embarrassed to say I've never given blood, partly because it's such an ordeal for me.

11:00 PM  
Blogger karen said...

I also hate this kind of thing! Poor you.

Great earlier post about J & J, too! :)

5:01 AM  
Blogger bozoette said...

Ow! I don't have very good veins, but through experience I know that the best one is in my left arm, right smack in the middle of the crook of my elbow. It's like a porthole.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

I will second the water suggestion. It is nearly miraculous how much difference it makes to just fill up with water for a few hours before--I actually start pounding the water the day before when I remember. I now give blood after many years of not giving, because I have learned the secret of drinking tons of water beforehand.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idea about the water--I hope I remember it!!

I was iron poor the times I tried to give blood. But then taking iron pills solved that problem.

We have United Blood Services come to our church twice a year, so people can give.

When I was in hard labor w/ my first child, they stuck me 9 times trying to get a vein. I just couldn't be still --finally they butterflied my hand.

The second child I told them--through my teeth--- you can take my blood later.

11:47 AM  

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