Saturday, April 5, 2008

Visiting the Vampires - Praying for Blood

For those who sent well wishes yesterday, I really appreciate your concern and support. I am feeling better today and my Sweetie and I even went out for lunch and ate some fabulous Indian food. Yum.

Yesterday afternoon, however, is a different story. I went to the Quest lab to have blood drawn for routine tests. Since I take a chemotherapy drug for rheumatoid arthritis, we have to make sure that my liver is happy.

I went to my favorite lab only to find that the ineffectual vampiress was on duty. Darn. (Note: I had formed a wonderful relationship with the previous phlembotomist who ALWAYS performed a successful stick on the first try.) Well, last month time I let this woman try three times, unsuccessfully, before choosing to wait for her colleague to return from break to stick me twice more.

Usually when the phlembotomist (tech) starts looking at my hands for veins, that's when I say, "whoa, not the hands, they NEVER work!!" It doesn't matter that I point directly to the one really good vein I have which runs alongside a tendon deep in the center of my elbow. Of course, there are a few other spots which have been known to produce blood in quantities enough to fill a couple of tubes but they're not nearly as reliable. The one thing I absolutely hate is a cocky tech who "blows through" a vein and produces one lonely drop of blood in the needle. This type of tech would also be the one to go on a fishing expedition in search of elusive blood from a tiny vein which probably just collapsed in fear or dred.

Surprise - this is exactly what vampiress proceeded to do.

So rather than let her conduct an endless number of sticks, I asked to take my orders to a different lab as she was the only one on duty. I quickly hightailed it to another lab in a nearby medical building. OH NOOO... They were just about to lock the doors, so I begged and begged. Very pathetic I know, but I have to time the blood draws carefully to get really good readings. Either that or delay taking my weekly dose on the designated day, and after yesterday's discussion I think we can agree that it's important to stay on a regular schedule with meds.

I presented the first tech (yes there was more than one) with my good arm and pointed to the best spot. She was not convinced that it was a good vein, checked elsewhere, and tried a different one. And do you think that there was blood? Noooo. So then she wanted the other arm and I dutifully presented it to her. She thought maybe there was a vein, thought maybe not. Another tech came over, checked herself, and pointed to yet a different spot.

Another stick - another bloodless failure.

She started looking at the hands and I said, "Um no, not the hands." Tech number two didn't volunteer as she had already pointed out her top location for a stick. So tech number three was summoned and he looked first at the hands. And what do you think I said? He even contemplated my wrist...again uh-uh. "My best vein is right here, down deep, running right next to the tendon, really, trust me it's there." He takes a quick look at my left arm which had already been pincushioned sufficiently. And I repeat, "the best vein is here and the next to best vein is here," pointing to the appropriate spots.

Surprisingly, these two spots remained virginly unstuck even after going through three techs already. This guy tightened the tourniquet and waited for the blood to plump up the veins while I squeezed on a soft ball. He took a leap of faith and went deep. Hallelujah - Success!! The other two techs watched closely and were amazed that blood flowed quickly enough to fill the appropriate lavender and red lidded tubes. The tech suggested to me that next time I should point out my good vein (just as I had to him and three other ladies yesterday) and suggest tying the tourniquet really tight...oh...and to mention that the vein is really deep and runs next to the tendon.

If only people would listen to me, especially when I'm being very pleasant, upbeat, and trying to stay as relaxed and non-fainty as possible. I'm sure that my arms would appreciate it.


  1. Lisa,

    That definitely is an odd connection! Guess you didn't eat enough garlic!

    I've had the same problems with veins, so I know what slow torture that it can be. Sorry you had to endure... and doubly sorry that patients are generally not listened to.

  2. I too have same issue. Once was poked TWELVE times by FOUR different nurses. But once I had a good draw, I demanded off the bat the suprv. Really insane, there are the: I can't see one so I'll dig around and hope. And the, let me find one, pamper it for my poke, done. There s a right way and wrong way; I insist now on the right way. (But I always have option of going another day.)

  3. I get blood test every 3 months to test for my liver like you said "to make sure my liver is happy"

  4. I'm the same way. Go in with intact veins, come out a worn out pin cushion.

    The best sticker I ever met worked for the research dept. at Shands Jacksonville and was the one who always drew blood for my study....she went on to bigger and better things. :-(

    BUT! She taught me where my best vein is located and the direction in which it runs (left elbow and points diagonally towards my heart). Ever since then, if the sticker follows my instructions, they never miss.

    She also gave me the tip that if I know I am going to have blood drawn or an IV inserted, be sure to drink plenty of fluids a couple hours beforehand to "fluff" the veins up.

  5. Recommendation: Ask for a paramedic to do the needle work ... they are the best in the bunch.