Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bad Veins

So, I have bad veins. I mean, not that this is a major character flaw, but still. Since I have to have my blood drawn pretty frequently, I get to experience the unfortunate side effects of having bad veins and it's not fun. For one thing, I always have to go in fasting. Which means I'm also probably pretty dehydrated. Which does not bode well for bad veins. So, the technician usually starts out by applying that little tourniquet thing? You know, the one they pull so tight that you're pretty sure your arm might fall off (and frankly, is the more painful part of the process, because latex against bare skin with tiny hairs? Not a good combo!). Then, they have you make a fist. You know, to "plump up" those flat little veins with nary a few drops of blood running through them. But, having bad veins, mine don't plump. So, they flick my skin a few times with their latex-gloved fingers, I guess to scare the vein into jumping into shape. When that doesn't work they start looking for good veins in other areas of my body - sides of arms, back of hands, ankles. Yes, ankles. Crazy, I know. After a few bad experiences, I now refuse to have my blood drawn anywhere but the usual - inside the elbow. I KNOW I have some good veins in there. Or at least a few that will behave long enough to give a little blood. So, then the tech decides they better make the stab (I think there is time limit on this but I'm not sure, all I know is they finally decide to just go for it) and, more often than not, it's a fail. But, oops, now the needle is already firmly implanted under my skin so they decide to fish around by moving the needle in, out, up, down and sideways in an attempt to accidentally stab one of my bad veins. Sometimes they do. Other times they have to start the whole thing over - on the other arm. Once they hit paydirt, it's all downhill from there. The blood is plentiful (hence the four tubes) and everything is A-Ok. Until it's over. And they put that little cotton ball on and tell you to apply pressure. Then, they insist on putting that horrible papery white tape over the cotton ball. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it's totally obvious - HEY! I just had my blood drawn! Wanna know why? I hate the papery tape/cotton ball combo. I would rather have a Spongebob bandaid than the tape. So, I get to leave then, but of course I wore a short sleeved shirt so I have this big blob on my arm screaming MEDICAL PROCEDURE. So, naturally I have to take the tape off. And it hurts. And sticks. And leaves nasty red marks on my arm. Now, I have a big ole bruise and nasty red marks. Which prompts the response OH WOW! What did you do to your arm? No, getting my blood drawn is never a subtle thing for me. Which is why I treated myself to Starbucks after. Better than a lollipop!


MAMMA said...

I HATE to hear about things like this!!! You might want to try a different place to have the blood drawn - like a hospital outpatient lab or a chain (like Alpha labs or PAML) alot of times its the lack of skill level of the Phlebotomist and it tends to be in groupings. If one is bad or if the person in charge is bad then they are just feeding off the all around bad and there isn't anyone to show them differently. In a hospital or a large lab there are always one or two bad ones, but they will get better by being surrounded by better drawers so they can learn more.
I will tell you this for sure...No one should be "fishing" for a vein!!! Pushing in slightly farther or pulling out a little is acceptable, but the side-to-side thing should NEVER be allowed!! You have nerves in there that can be damaged pretty easily.
My poor sister! I will draw your blood for you anytime!
Love, M2
P.S. I never put a tourniquet on a bare arm. I feel the same as you do and it only takes a second to position it around the sleeve and tighten a little tighter to make up the difference. Much more comfortable, and a really skilled Phleb. will know this :-)

Sydney said...

I hate getting my blood drawn so bad that it took me a year to get my residence visa here because I knew they'd draw blood before they ok'd me. And it was just as awful as I expected it to be (and was bruised for weeks!). I freaking hate it. Yuck.