I used to be the sort of person who could walk into a clinic, slap myself down in a chair, and have the ghoulish blood collectors therein remove as much of the red as they needed. I donated blood on a regular basis; I never had a problem with blood tests. In addition to being neither squeamish nor Nervous About Needles, I was the perfect patient.
But then something happened. Something changed. I am never forget the time I went to donate blood and the nurse said “has anyone ever told you you have slippery veins?”
I said, “well, no, but then again, they’ve only ever been inside my body, where one assumes everything is slippery.”
Apparently not everything is as slippery as one might think. They told me I could never donate platelets or white whatevers or the stuff you sit in the chair for forever. They said my veins would never allow it. I told them, in no uncertain terms, that I am the boss of my veins and not the other way around, but as it turns out, I am not, in fact, the boss of my veins.
Thus began a downward spiral into not being able to get nothin’ out of nothin’, not never, not nohow.
There was the time I went for a blood test because I needed a minor surgery, and I was emotional and hungry and exhausted and the tech took the needle and jammed it into my arm about four times, which I didn’t mind so much, before sticking it so far into my elbow that she hit the joint, which I did mind, *very* much. I remember walking through the hospital halls, sobbing uncontrollably, not because of the pain, but because I was so *angry*. His Nibs, never quite sure what to do when I break down in tears, asked if there was anything he could do.
“Yes,” I said. “Punch that stupid cunt in the throat.”
He said “um,” and increased, ever so slightly, the distance between the two of us.
That little movement made me laugh, and soon my rage quieted. I was angry because I’d told the technician that I have slippery, elusive veins, and that it was quite likely she would have difficulty locating the medial cubital vein. I’d mentioned that a warm compress often helped, and that if she had difficulty, there had often been success with my metacarpal veins, which are actually visible through the skin. I was angry because the technician told me to stop being so nervous (I was not nervous) and that she was very busy (so was I). I was angry because I’d tried to be helpful, and polite, and when I told her “that’s quite tender, where you’re poking now” after about the fourth time, she actually just held the needle upright and jammed it right into my elbow joint. Had I not had a needle in my arm, there’s a chance *I* would’ve been doing the throat-punching at that exact moment.
My whole arm hurt for *weeks*.
Even in spite of that charming experience, I’m neither nervous nor in any way anxious about having blood taken. I always tell the technicians that I have difficult veins. I always make sure I’m well hydrated before the procedure. I try to make sure I’m warm (this is VERY difficult for me, but I try). Most of the time, the technician just asks a nurse to come and do the collection.
But today was not that day.
The first jab was not successful, even after rooting around three or four times. So the other arm was tried. Rooting, rooting, JAB! Right into the elbow joint. I inhaled rather sharply through my teeth but didn’t move. We moved on to my hand. Managed to get about four drops out of one vein before the technician ripped out the needle and sprayed my blood all over the chair, the floor, the desk, the wall…basically everywhere but in the tube (THIS, I thought, was hilarious). So then we go for the other hand (my suggestions to just try a shiv were met with quizzical glances). Five or six rooting jabs later and the tech finally goes to find a nurse.
The nurse figured they had enough blood (which wasn’t very much, and apparently you can’t use the stuff that hits the floor, which if you ask me, is a big waste), and they sent me on my way.
Walking out of the clinic, past the long line of folks waiting, I couldn’t figure out why everyone was STARING at me. I was wearing my mask, but they all had masks on. I checked to see that I’d pulled up my pants after the urine sample line dance (I had). I glanced behind me to see if maybe they were staring at the TRULY weird person who must have been back there. I was alone.
I got into the car and looked down at my arms. A cotton ball in each elbow and on the back of each hand, plus blood dripping from one.
OH I SEE.