Friday, March 02, 2007

A vial experience

WARNING: This story contains references to both needles and blood. If you're squeamish about either, run away now. Cute puppies and fuzzy kittens. La la la la la.... you didn't see this.

I had the good fortune to be due for some routine bloodwork today. Not a big deal, usually. Starve yourself for 14 hours, go get stuck with a pointy thing and you're done.

Today's hospital visit was slightly more of an adventure. It started ordinarily enough. The receptionist at the blood collection clinic is a bitch. There is no other word for it. I've been there quite a few times and she's always there and always nasty. But only to patients. When she speaks to co-workers, the honey fair drips from her tongue.

But when dealing with a patient, a look comes over her face that screams, "I don't HAVE to deal with all you pathetic people. This is sooooo beneath me!" She doesn't make eye contact, just shoves her hand out for your requisition and hospital card. After you give her those, she snaps, "Are you fasting?" and when you reply in the affirmative, tippy taps at the computer, then glares at you. And doesn't speak until you ask, "Is that all you need?" to which she responds in a tone most of us reserve for total morons, "Y-e-e-e-e-e-s. (in that multi-syllabic version teenagers use) Go sit down until your name is called."

But that's SOP, and no more, or less than I expected.

I wasn't there long before my name was called by the phlebotomist , as I've learned over the years when is the least busy time and time my fast to that.

I followed her to the cubicle and when she turned around again, I realized she looked like she might be 17. 18 tops. Uh-oh. I'm sure you've all had blood drawn and you know the routine. I have to admit, usually the staff are a modicum of skill and efficiency, so I suppose I was well overdue to meet the one who... isn't. Now, she was very pleasant and friendly, the total opposite of the receptionist, and engaged me in light-hearted small talk about the possible snowstorm this weekend. But I would have preferred she didn't talk to me and instead consulted her textbook, from the course she obviously barely passed, opened to the page on how to draw blood without having the patient bleed out in the first two minutes.

First of all, she seemed to have some difficulty getting the tourniquet tied. And she tied it too tight. She did not mention making a fist, so as she came at me with the needle, I asked, "Shouldn't I make a fist before you put the needle in?" I did not, however, offer to deliver said fist anywhere to her person. I'm saving that for the receptionist. "Oh yeah. That'd help."

It was with great trepidation that I watched that needle go into my arm because I was really uncertain she knew what she was aiming for. But she managed to fill a vial without massacring my arm, and then of course forgot to tell me to relax my hand, so I did it when I knew I should.

She put a square of gauze over the spot where the needle had been and applied... almost no pressure. So I put my finger over it and pressed as hard as I know you need to. She then insisted on repeatedly lifting the thing up to look without giving it any time to clot. I was tempted to say, "If you keep doing that, my love, we'll be here all day and I'll be down a quart in no time." Which is distressing enough when it's your car, but positively terrifying when it's your arm.

But the good news is, I survived. And I've only got a very small bruise in the bend of my elbow to show for it. I usually have no bruise at all, but I'll live. And with any luck, by the next time I need blood work done, she'll either have punctured enough veins to know what she's doing or been fired.

The question is, are any of you passed out on the floor now? Someone? Get the nice people some smelling salts, please. Thanks.


That duck's at it again

Code Monkey - Get this tune out of your head, I defy you and while you're there, check out the Ukulele Remix LIVE and the Speed Monkey versions. From the delightful Jonathan Coulton.

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Blogger Ricardipus said...


Pah, the only time I felt woozy was when some research buddies tapped me for a big whack of blood, first thing in the morning, after fasting.

Litres for CBS, with cookies and juice, in the middle of the day - no problem.

And I'm afraid of teenagers at the best of times, let alone when they have pointy things and positions of (supposed) responsibility... yikes.

Glad to hear you didn't get a monster bruise out of that... I was expecting that to be the end of the story.

"Okljpkek" - a Finnish ookpik.

March 3, 2007 at 12:24 a.m.  
Anonymous Andy Ramblings said...

Another thing... Your lucky you didn't gave a nurse who had either PMS, or had had a big argument with boyfriend/husband.
I had that displeasure when I was in my teens. She shoved the whole needle in full length into my arm.. scared the hell out of me...

March 3, 2007 at 6:28 a.m.  
Blogger Rik said...

I don't mind needles, even long ones. Except when I had whooping cough a few years ago, and they did a blood oxygen check. That just hurt.

dqlojwsb: The blood type they extracted when I had a blood oxygen test

March 3, 2007 at 6:47 p.m.  
Anonymous dawna said...

yuck! I never look when I'm getting my blood drawn, I just assumed they knew what they were doing. Now I'm freaked. eeek.

March 3, 2007 at 9:48 p.m.  
Blogger Anna said...

You should have told the phlebotomist to go practice on the receptionist.

March 3, 2007 at 11:38 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

R'pus - The first time I donated blood, I hadn't had breakfast. It wasn't a happy experience... but I did turn an interesting shade of green...

Andy R - Gneep!

Rik - Ack! I'm afraid to ask just what that entails.

Dawna - I always look. I was never freaked... until this last time.

Anna - Hahahahahaha! Excellent plan!

March 3, 2007 at 11:50 p.m.  
Anonymous TC said...

I believe slapping's good for bringing up veins...and bringing down rude receptionists.

dbopd - the latest UK dance craze...?

March 4, 2007 at 2:12 p.m.  
Anonymous Wonderferret said...

Blood and needles. Bah. I sneer at them. Now dentists and drills. Hyperventilation and blind panic!!!
Glad it was just a little bruise though.

qwnlriw...The sound I make at the dentist

March 4, 2007 at 3:17 p.m.  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

I like blood! I like needles! More, more, more!

March 4, 2007 at 7:04 p.m.  
Blogger Scaryduck said...

Still, a prick's a prick.


March 5, 2007 at 6:41 a.m.  
Blogger Richard said...

Never bothered me. And that's reminded me I need to go to blood donors.

March 5, 2007 at 10:12 a.m.  
Anonymous Kat said...

I've had some fairly clueless med techs before, and honestly, she doesn't sound _that_ bad. At least she didn't miss the vein and then rummage the needle around under your skin for five minutes to try and find it, instead of just taking the needle out and trying again from scratch. I've never really had problems with needles, but after that experience I hold my breath until they start actually drawing the blood. Oh yeah, and that one left a MASSIVE bruise, not surprisingly. I bruise easily enough as it is...

I had a conversation with a tech once about how they learn to draw blood, and she said at her school they practiced on themselves (!), and then on their friends and family (!!). Obviously the tech drawing your blood didn't do that -- pain usually teaches you to get it right the first time.

March 5, 2007 at 1:14 p.m.  
Blogger Misty said...

I'm only ever squeamish when a needle's directed at me, but that tale did get me worried and slightly woozy.

It also reminded me of the time I went to give blood and the bleeding didn't stop.

That was an interesting day...

And yes, go with Anna's plan :)

sqwertzl - the sound I made after 10 minutes of blood oozing from my elbow.

March 5, 2007 at 6:59 p.m.  
Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

They won't let me give blood. Apparently after 20 years in West Africa and mad cow disease in the UK, it's a wonder I'm not infecting the entire planet with the poisonous bioswill running through my veins.

I think they should be tapping me to isolate whatever fantastic part of my immune system keeps me standing.

P.S. The medics here in Belgium were fabulous at this type of stuff. Nary a bruise.

March 6, 2007 at 2:09 p.m.  

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