Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I left the apartment with grim determination. It would be done today, come hell or high water. Just a week prior I had gone down to the lab for blood tests and after 8 or 9 pokes administered by every white coat, they gave up and sent me away. I was off to a different clinic a bit further away, but still close enough for me to go in my power chair. With Joe walking along beside me, we were mostly quiet. These aren't easy days for me.

We arrived at the clinic and were given a number. Mercifully there was room in the waiting room for my scooter and I sat and waited. Waited meaning, of course, stewing in anxiety. When my number was called I requested the most distant room as the way it was configured I'd have the most privacy. I explained to the nurse that I'd been a week before to a different lab and about the pokes and about the failure of them to get even a drop of blood. She nodded and said, 'Well, let me take a look.'

She tried all sorts of different places asked me questions and listened carefully to my answer. It was a thorough examination of every possible vein. Then she said, 'I'm going to try and get this first go, so let me take my time.' I smiled, ruefully (really I did) and let her scour my arms for veins. Then a little light bulb went off in her head. She grinned at me and said, 'I think I know what to do.'

She got a needle. Felt for the vein one last time. Put the needle in and then filled the vials with blood. First try, first hit. This NEVER happens. I was so surprised that I kind of missed what she said but I think she said she used a 'baby needle' because the vein was small.

Whatever she did, it was wonderful. Her manner was such that I'd have forgiven her having to try several times. She really WANTED to make this OK for me. It was like she hadn't forgotten that she was poking the arms of people who have sensibilities.

It can be rare to find those who work with people who remember the humanity of those in their care. Well, she did.

And this human, was grateful for her kind attention.


Liz Miller said...

Excuse me, please. I have some dust in my eye.

Liz Miller said...

And another comment just to say (again) how much I love your writing.

Jan said...

It is nice to run into someone who is kind,caring and COMPETENT. Many times we fell lucky when we get two out of the three but to get all three it was an amazing day Dave. I share your dread of having blood tests for much the same reasons you do. I feel like a human pincushion by the time I leave and I like you sometimes have to come back for a second try.
Glad it worked out so well.

Unknown said...

I have exactly this same problem - small, slippery, far beneath the skin veins runs in my family and as someone with regular ailments, having my blood taken has become a routine trial and tribulation for me. Some places will stick and stick and stick (in all sorts of unpleasant places) only to pop the vein they eventually get. As a testament to this, I have scar tissue - SCAR TISSUE - on both of my arms.

And then occasionally there are these people, and I don't know if its a difference in training or just the difference of attention, patience, and humanity - who get it on the first try.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that this ease continues to happen, and will think of you with hope whenever I have a good bloodletter.

ivanova said...

Great story, well told.
My mom has to get blood work done every month. At the clinic there is one phlebotomist/nurse (not sure of title?) who is very callous and bad at taking blood, and another who is skilled and kind. My mom, and several other patients, now refuse to go with the callous nurse, and will wait a long time for the skilled one.

Kristin said...

I am so glad you got someone who was not only good at her job but was considerate and caring.

Fun Mum said...

Wonderful to hear. I've had to take my now 4.5 y.o. for frequent blood draws since birth due to no thyroid, sometimes as often as every 3 weeks way back when. Now we're at 6 mo checks, thankfully. I've had the spectrum of newbies who don't care who seriously thought I would just keep holding a screaming, kicking toddler down while they practiced poking holes. Right through to the nurses at the local children's hospital who just "got it". Needless to say, I am happy to drive 45 min and pay for parking to see the nurses at the hospital than drive to the lab 10 min away with freebie parking.

Susan said...

Oh, I can so hang my laundry on this literary line. "These aren't easy day sfor me."

Once in hospital they asked if students could be involved in my care. I didn't realize that meant using me for a practice pin-cushion. As much as I like helping future generations of health care practioners hone their craft, when the ninth try at inserting an i-v failed, I cried, "Get me a REAL nurse!" The next one was successful, thank God. I've been wary of the student thing ever since and say "no" now, usually quite respectfully, but it's still, "no". Let them practice on someone who is none the wiser by a bad experience.

Baba Yaga said...

Sorry about the difficult days.

The best blood-taker/ injecter I ever met had worked on a premature baby ward. That's the training people with difficult veins want.

Anonymous said...

Hi dave,i am friends with a lady who recieves 24hour care,michelle,she has a carer that works for her who she is petrified of,she is unreliable,shes lies and they argue everytime she is on shift,the amount of times this lady has let her down is unbelievable,she pulls the 'race card' all of the time,and when something is not going right she phones her friends infront of michelle and tells them everything that is going on,i find it appalling that michelle has to go through the proper procedures to remove this lady from her support team,she does not want this lady in her house but the company who employs her are telling her she HAS to have her,I,and all that know michelle are appalled at this!Your blog is fascinating and i have been to one of your conferences before,you are truely an amazing teller of experiences!

Anonymous said...

If you know you will have blood drawn, make sure to drink plenty of water ahead of time. Being dehydrated will make it worse.

To Fun Mom: When my daughter was born, they had to take blood every few hours from the bottoms of her feet.. her poor little feet looked like pincushions.


Fun Mum said...

To Sharon... awwwwww! Poor lil' thing! Ouch!