Zen And the Art of Phlebotomy
August 14, 2013 § 64 Comments
The only thing I dread about my annual ob/gyn appointment is the invasive speculum insertion. What I didn’t anticipate this morning was my doctor asking when I’d last had my cholesterol tested. Knowing full well it had been a while, I played dumb while she reviewed my file.
“Looks like it’s time,” she chirped.
Son of a bitch.
* * *
I arrived at the lab and met the bored expressions of three technicians who looked about as enamored with their job as I was with my impending fate. One, a motherly dame, drew the short straw and ambled over.
“How are you with blood and needles?”
Although I’ve been known to pass out when giving blood and have even had Red Cross volunteers gently suggest I find another way to pay it forward, I waved her question off. “As long as I don’t look at what you’re doing, I’m golden.”
I took a seat. She fiddled around with my arms, checking for good veins. This gave me ample time to think through what was about to happen. I told myself to relax my shoulders. Take deep breaths. Visualize puppies and cookies.
She handed me a ball to squeeze, tightened a tourniquet around my upper arm, and swiped alcohol across the crook of my elbow. All strong signals to shut my eyes, which I did. After I felt the prick, I relaxed somewhat.
But then she flicked the blood-collection tube, numerous times. Which made the needle move. Which reminded me that I had a needle in my arm. Which cued the nausea and sweating.
“Have you had anything to drink today?”
“Just chocolate milk.” Crap. I’d made my blood the consistency of a milkshake. Drawing my blood must have been akin to forcing a DQ Blizzard through a cocktail straw. (Note to self: Drink more water.)
The whole process took much too long. She kept at that tube. I continued the deep breathing.
Finally, she took the ball away and loosened the tourniquet. I felt a cotton ball on my arm and she asked me to hold it in place. I thought, “She must have crazy good needle-removing skills because I didn’t feel her take it out, and she would never ask me to hold the cotton ball while the NEEDLE IS STILL IN MY ARM!”
I opened my eyes thinking the coast was clear only to see everything still in place and my bodily fluids flowing steadily away from me.
My world suddenly became a little wonky.
She finally removed the needle, and I can proudly say I didn’t go down. But she knew a fainter when she saw one. She made me recline and drink a box of Capri Sun fruit juice.
So that was nice, I guess. I had my juice pouch. Strangers doting on me. I just wish they had offered me a cookie and a dog. Then it would have been worth it.