April 15, 2008

"You're Making this Man Uncomfortable"

Time for labs - meaning getting blood drawn and peeing in a cup at my local Quest Diagnostics. Here's the thing about phlebotomists - sometimes they're great and sometimes they're painful. There really is no middle ground.

This morning I had the "pleasure" of being stuck by a woman on her second day in the office. I have to assume that she has practiced on fruit or something in the past. They DO make people practice before giving them live bodies, right? RIGHT?

One of the longer term staff was there to enter the right codes into the computer and get everything ready, but then she went to get the cup. In the meantime, newbie searched both of my arms for a good vein to stick. Once she decided on my right arm, the stuck. Then dug. Yes, one of the most awkward things in the world: someone has a sharp needle in your arm, and does figure eights with the tip to find the place they are looking for. (shudder)

The regular person came back and could see my face (must have been too blunt this time, usually I just suck it up) and said "Please let me do it, you're making this man uncomfortable." Yes, that's the word, uncomfortable.

So she stuck the other side and drew what seemed like a quart of blood. She was quick, and mostly painless. I really would like to see the turnover rate at a place like that, because I have been stuck by more people there than I have movies in the last decade!

So here I sit, fully expecting to look like a heroin addict by the end of the day with a huge bruise in my elbow. Scratch that - BOTH elbows.

I don't want to waste this story to just whine, so here are some helpful hints to having blood drawn:
  • Pay attention - If you're not supposed to have food, Don't Eat! They will turn you away and you've wasted a trip.
  • If you're NOT supposed to fast, go during lunch or after work. Those of us that DO have to fast are trying to get in and get out.
  • If you're retired, please wait to go until later in the morning, too. I have places to be, you don't.
  • DRINK WATER. This helps to sort of inflate your veins, making them easier to find, and therefore less painful for you.
  • If you can't stand the sight of your own blood, don't look! Seems simple, but I still catch myself getting light headed watching myself pour out into a small tube.
  • Be prepared to sit and wait. The one time that I found an office that was good at the ten minute turn around. It was because they only had like 10 clients a day. That office was closed down and I lost a great phlebotomist that day.
I know that I have some friends that get stuck more often than I do. Any other suggestions to share?

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