October 24, 2006

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning, for which I arrived promptly on time, like a total goddamned fool. I had almost forgotten the joy of slowly decaying in a waiting room while idly flipping through a ragged copy of Pregnancy Today (no, I’m not pregnant, but my other choices were Highlights or an instructional brochure titled: Hand-Washing For At Least 20 Seconds: Together We Can Prevent Illness!).

This was a new doctor for me, and he asked if I had any illnesses to report, past or present. “No,” I answered. No serious diseases to speak of? he asked. No, I said. He tapped his pen, then peered at me with great intensity.

“Heart disease?”
“Problems with the eyes?”
“Chronic inflammation of the blowhole, housemaid’s knee, case of blabbermouth, analreticulitis?”

Okay, I made up the last few, but seriously, I felt like I was on trial or something. I should have confessed to a little bout with Hantavirus just to see his pen go flying.

Once we had wrapped up the Disease Rundown and done all the requisite poking and prodding, he left and a woman about my age came in to take my blood. “I hope you have good veins,” she said with all the warmth of refrigerated tofu.

“Sorry,” I said. “I don’t.” She heaved an enormous breath of disbelief (yeah, right) and peeled back my sleeves to inspect what surely had to be an arm bristling with giant pulsating blood-tubes. After squeezing me here and there, she sat back. “You really don’t.”

I managed not to say “that’s what I just fucking told you” because she was the one with the needles, and she began a long and painful process of poking around with her fingers, sliding in a butterfly needle and probing it around, then removing it with a huff and slapping on a bandaid.

“I was on a roll,” she told me with great irritation, “before you. Three people in a row with no problems.”

Soon I had multiple bandaids and holes in my skin, and she asked me accusingly where did they normally get the blood and I said I don’t know, from my ARM? – but usually they get it by NOW? and things were sort of tense as she frowned deeply at my horrible, nonexistent, ROLL-KILLING circulatory system.

In a weird effort to make light conversation as I was being methodically pricked to death, I wondered out loud why I had such crappy veins. “Some people are born with organs on the outside of their body,” she said, shaking her head at my ingratitude. “You really shouldn’t complain.”


She then told me that apparently I didn’t want to “share” my blood. “I’m not the one that even wants it,” she said. “The lab wants it, not me.” I said I really did want to share it and go far far away where I could whimper over my many, many wounds, but she didn’t seem to believe me.

“I’m going to have to send you to the lab,” she said, pulling off her gloves with an authoritative snap.

“What will they do differently there?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I think they’re allowed to take blood from…different areas, and stuff.”

So that’s the information I mulled over as I drove nervously to the lab. That they might be taking blood from a…different area. And stuff.

I got to the lab, handed over the paperwork, and the woman behind the counter slid her eyes towards me without moving her head so she looked like an unfriendly flounder. “Fasting?” she said.


“Are you fasting.”


“This is a fasting test.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling a bit like I’d dropped down the rabbit hole about an hour prior and there was NO LIGHT, NO LIGHT IN SIGHT. “I don’t know what that means.”

She sighed in disgust and informed me that the test required that I avoid food for twelve hours beforehand.

“I…they just sent me from Dr. R’s office because she…couldn’t get my blood? And you have other stuff? Uh?”

“Well, the test results may be OFF,” she said, and then instructed me to have a seat. She then walked directly over to the door connecting the office to the waiting room and said, impatiently, “Come in.”

“Me?” I said stupidly (hadn’t she just told me to have a seat?).

“Yes,” she said, barely hiding an eye-roll. “You.”

After that she had me stick out an arm where she thrust a needle into the exact same hole the other woman had been mining with great vigor and no results, and my blood obligingly gushed out into the tube collector deal and oh my GOD I could finally go home. “Have a nice day!” the flounder cried as I walked out the door.

Well, it had been about…oh, 14 months since I last visited a medical facility. Here’s hoping for at least 14 more before the next time. It’s probably going to take me that long just to get rid of all my attractive, heroin-chic arm bruises.


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17 years ago

Next time you have to have blood drawn, make them give you a hot compress first. I have the worst veins on the planet (not only do they roll, but the second they poke them they instantly close up and go bone dry) and not one doctor ever believes me until AFTER stabbing me with that butterfly needle about 30 times. Also, run your hands under hot water first. It helps, I swear.

17 years ago

As someone with a bleeding disorder, the multi-stick sucks ass. I miss the days when I had a tesio catheter hanging from my chest they could just draw from the ports. Now I just have specific nurses to ask for when I need a draw, and they listen when I tell them to draw from that one vein-that one-the one with all the scar tissue-just push through it-no, it doesn’t hurt and I freak them out by watching while they do it. Seldom do I bruise if they do it right.

That said, I love Donna’s very thorough, very informative post.

17 years ago

I have “nice, bouncy veins”, but I dehydrate about once a year (don’t ask; it started when I was 30 and no matter that I drink a large Gatorade first thing every day, it still happens), and that makes dropping an IV difficult. Not the last time but the time before that they poked me all over, finally hit one, and the nurse was slow to cap it so I bled all over the bed. Fortunately, my then-5-year-old thought it was funny that the bed was “bleeding”.

Those nurses were bitchy and I feel bad for you. Me, I’d write and complain. ‘Cause that’s what I do.

Victor Applegate
17 years ago

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