Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Mean Phlebotomist

I don't much like needles.  I don't like having my blood taken.  I can trace it all back to a blood test I had done in 5th grade, where the blood-drawer had to dig around for a vein and it took forever and was painful.  And the results from the test showed nothing, so they proceeded to do two more tests. Ever since then, I detest needles.  I get shaky and warm and sweaty and cold and faint if anyone tries to stick me with a needle - whether it's the poor dentist trying to administer novacaine, or the impatient phlebotomist trying to take blood out of me.  When I was young, my mother would call ahead to any clinic or dentist or what have you to let them know that I didn't handle needles very well and that they might want to prepare themselves for some possible fainting.

What doesn't help me at all, when faced with a needle, is to have someone who is mean or impatient with me.  If the person with the needle rolls their eyes and treats me like I'm an idiot, I freak out all the more.  I KNOW it doesn't hurt - that's not really the issue at this point.  The issue is that my body has a response that I can't seem to short circuit.  It associates bad things with needles and your impatience or meanness or eye-rolling doesn't help cause.  


This is why I put off baby-making for so long.  I heard that they want to take your blood.  And not just once, but a million times.  And then, to have the baby, they want to give  you an IV.  All of this information was enough to keep me on the pill.  But then in January, there I was staring at two pink lines, knowing that someone was now going to want to do a blood test.  At least one, if not two, or a gazillion.   I would have to gird myself for this.

The first time I went in for a blood test, the waiting room was crowded and the wait was long and I thought "This place is just filled with needles and vials!  That's all they do here - fill vials with people's precious blood!"  When I was finally called in, with Aaron in tow to provide moral support (and catch me if necessary), I explained to the woman that I don't handle needles very well and that I would need to lay down so as to not faint on her.

And then, miracle of all miracles!  She was nice!  She was so kind.  She, of course, wanted me to lay down.  She didn't want me to faint!  She would find the arm with the best looking vein and she would use a small needle and she would work as quickly as she could!  Oh, and look at her pictures of her dogs on her wall!  And all of the crayon-penned notes from the kids who have survived blood tests from her!  She didn't think I was a wimp at all - she'd rather know that I didn't do well and work accordingly than have me try to NOT be what I am (afraid and woozy). And you know what??  It worked.  It was the best blood test ever.  I barely felt a thing, I barely got any of the wooziness, and I was sitting up within just a few minutes (I usually have to lay there for awhile to let my system calm down and recalibrate).

The doctor wanted like five more blood tests (that may be an exaggeration) and as long as I went to see the Wonderful and Kind Phlebotomist (WKP), everything was fine.  I would smile, I would laugh, I wouldn't faint, and I would be in and out in no time flat.  Everything was fine, until last week.  When I saw the Mean Phlebotomist (MP).

I didn't think it would be so bad to not see the WKP - I thought, I've been fine the last few times, I'm doing so much better at this, how bad can it be to not have WKP draw blood?

How bad can it be?  Bad.  The photo is seven days post-blood draw and that's the biggest bruise anyone I know has seen after a blood test.  MP was terrible.  I'll spare you the details but she was mean and, frankly, unskilled.  Lots of jabbing, lots of movement (I felt every vial change) and not much sympathy.

If there's a next time, I will only go to WKP.  I've also considered finding out if WKP administers IV's and if so, if she can attend my labor for that purpose only.  It probably doesn't work that way.  My hope is that I can get away with no IV - or that I end up with WKIVP (Wonderful and Kind IV Person).