Leaving off from yesterday’s story, Chris’ Mom arrived and took over for me so that I could go to my doctor’s appointment.

At the end of my visit, they sent me down to the lab to get several vials of my precious blood stolen from my arms.

Two lab techs met me at the door – a young male and an older female. The older female was nervously dropping paperwork and forgetting the young male’s name as she tried to introduce everyone.

Which is when I noticed her Community College student ID on her thin paper jacket.

They sat me in one of their blood-extraction chairs and then conversed quietly amongst themselves.

Him: “Have you done one today?”

Her: “No, but I just don’t know if I can.”

Him: “Yes, but you’ve got to practice.”

Her: “But…”

He looked at me and asked, “Do you mind if she draws your blood? She’s a new student.”

I have a disorder in my brain that forces me to try to be overly brave in situations such as these. So I said  “Not at all! I have fantastic veins. In fact, I hear they’re my best feature.”

(Which is true, by the way. I’ve never given blood or gotten an IV without getting an ego boost from the raving compliments and vein adoration. Phlebotomists everywhere love me.)


But she had a look of sheer horror and said, “I don’t know…”

I reassured her. “Seriously. I have great veins. And I don’t mind getting stuck. You can do it!”

“Okay, okay.”

I smiled at her young male tutor, feeling a bit sorry for him and his task. He smiled back.

She looked at us both suspiciously. “Do you two know each other?”


She raised a Momma eyebrow. “Then WHY are you smilin’ at each other?? Is there somethin’ funny that I don’t know about?”

I wiped all friendly smiles off of my face for fear of needle-tinged retribution.

She began nervously mumbling under her breath.

“Okay which vials do I need? An orange, an yellow, and a purple. Where are my gloves? See I can’t even get my gloves on I’m so nervous! What do I do next? Oh yes – tie on a tourniquet. Oh! I need a needle.”

She glanced down at my arm.

“Ooooh those are some nice veins! Can you see those?”

Male Tech glanced over her. “I can see them from here. You can’t miss!”

She seemed to take courage in my AWESOMENESS and began to move toward my arm with her needle. I looked away. I can usually watch, but I have never been so afraid of getting squirted in the eye.

She ever so slowly and trepidatiously and therefore quite painfully stuck my arm. It seemed as if she hadn’t gotten to the class where they teach The Band-Aid Principal.

She fumbled around to reach the first vial.

At an even slower pace, she stuck the vial onto the connector. My magnificent blood quickly filled the vial and she removed it and laid it on the minidesk where my arm was resting.

Where it immediately rolled off.

I managed to make a quick grab for it with my unstuck limb and caught it just in time, handed it to her mentor, and tried not to smile at him.

She didn’t notice my valiant efforts on her behalf, as it was taking all of her focus to connect the next vial.

Vial Number two was nearly full when she looked up at me and lost her concentration. The needle retracted from the hole in my arm and, thanks to her mad tourniquet skills, I morphed into Old Faithful.

She squealed and grabbed at gauze and tried to sop at my geyser, all while repeating “I can’t ever do it right. I can do everything else but I just can’t do this. I can’t do it, I can’t.”

I soaked through the gauze and she found more, and finally her mentor reached over her head and released my tourniquet, effectively shutting off my spigot o’ blood.

As she tried to get my gauze secured, he coached her. “You’ve just got to be firm. Hold it in there. Jab the patient. Don’t be afraid of hurting people!”

She looked up at him with shock.

“Hurtin’ people???”

“Yes. You’re going to hurt people. You have to be okay with that.”

“Well I can’t do it again. I just can’t. You finish her.”

I tried to comfort her as I dutifully gave him my other arm, which he didn’t even bother to tourniquet. He was done in two seconds – poke, suck, done.

And that’s how I got matching needle tracks on my arms, Mom.


25 thoughts on “An Explanation Of Uncomfortable Sorts.

  1. I think she probably needs to rethink her career choice. I mean you eventually have to take someone’s blood if you are training to be a phlebotomist. That is my worst nightmare because I don’t have good veins mine like to hide. It takes them forever to find a vein I have even had them take it out of my leg in desperation because that vein was easly visable. I found out later that is frowned upon. So I always end up with at least 2 sticks usually more. Which means since I bruise easy the next day I look like I have been in fight with all the bruises on my arm.

  2. Oh goodness. You are braver than me. I would have said no way. I have such bad veins that even the best phlebotomists and doctors often can’t get my blood. I agree with the first poster, I think this woman may be in the wrong line of work!

  3. @_@ Please bring back the story about the roach, or potty issues in the pool, or basically anything else. Had I been in your chair, it would have been that moment a few changes happened. She would have rethought her career choices and I would have reverted back into the nurse biting 6 year old (sorry nurses) that I have worked hard over the years to change.
    My veins are impossible to find and even the most seasoned phlebotomist must resign to taking it from the back of my hands.
    Now, I must go splash cold water on me and walk around to expel the pent up anxiety that has been building since you so vividly described this moment.

  4. I don’t have very good veins so the first time I donated blood they gave me a seasoned phlebotomist. I still wound up with a bruise about the size of my hand and DARK. It was right before a play (I was in theatre in college) and even the tattoo make-up didn’t cover it so my character became fond of cardigans.

  5. Ok, now that the EMTs have left my cube with their smelling salts, I can comment. That was THE MOST HORRIFYING post ever! Ever! I hope the male nurse gave you a sticker for your troubles. Or gourmet chocolate.

  6. I had a season where I went in for weekly blood draws. Like you, I have great veins, feel the need to be accommodating, and don’t mind all that much being stuck with a needle. But I was an uncertain technicians first attempt too and it did not go well. Five pokes and she still couldn’t find a vein. I finally said “enough” and the seasoned phlebotomist had it in two seconds. Talk about bruised arms!

  7. This post literally made me get a bit faint. Hyperventilation, tingly lips and fingers, a need to sit down away from my iPad and think of other things for a few minutes to recover. You phlebotomist in training is my very worst nightmare. I’ve gotten a bit better at dealing with my phobia of giving blood after a decade-long mystery illness and then two pregnancies, but even now I never attempt to have blood drawn unless they can let me lie down first. You are incredibly brave. And all of this directly on the heels of encountering the object of your phobia before leaving your house!

    1. Ooops – so sorry! I’m fascinated by the number of people that this post bothered more than the roach one. Bloodletting has never bothered me – I’ll give myself a gold star.

  8. No way would that have happened to me! When my son was in Children’s this past fall (following the Alabama/Texas A&M game we saw you at!), it took the tech THREE attempts before they were able to get his IV in. I was holding him on the bed and he was so brave for the first try, a little less for the second, thenwe both had to take a break before they tried the third time because he started to cry and the room was spinning for me as I nearly passed out from watching it! Mama bear nearly came out too since we couldn’t get a topical numbing cream done without an order from a Dr. Sorry, but at a children’s hospital, that should be standard! And my son is much braver than I am when it comes to needles, I don’t like them at all.

  9. You’re a rockstar in my book. I think getting stuck (especially multiple times!) or getting a shot is way worse than a cockroach.

  10. I work at a career college and I let the Medical Assistant students practice on me all the time. Most of my coworkers think I’m insane. I have amazing veins and well trained students and I barely feel the pokes.

  11. Ummmm, where are all you folks getting these amazing veins from? I’ve had phlebotomists joke about me being an addict (and this is when I was in high school)! I’ve got the skinniest and smallest veins, then they roll away as soon as someone sets their sights on them (I’ve had people try to CHASE THEM with the needle in my arm) – it’s pretty pathetic. It takes the best of the best (and yes, I take names so I can ask for them next time) to get vials from me for bloodwork unless I’m pregnant (and I really shouldn’t need to incubate a new human in order to get blood).

    So why WERE you and the young male smiling at each other?!?! Have you decided to form a personal relationship with not only your banker but also your lab tech?

    1. Wouldn’t it be easier for me to be an addict than you? Or does being an addict ruin your veins?

      And me and the young male were just…amused…by her dialogue with herself.

  12. Oh yeah, this is definitely a scarier story than the cockroach! I’d take a cockroach over getting blood drawn ANY day! I have “normal” veins…not good, not bad, but I hate needles and avoid them whenever possible. I can’t watch when they take my blood. Yuck. Hope this helps them figure out what is going on. Praying for you.

  13. Wow, phlebotomy was just a phenomenonally bad career choice for that woman. You might end up with some pretty impressive bruises. :) I had a similar experience volunteering as a “stick” for a medical assisting class. Poor girl took the blood just fine, then forgot to remove the tourniquet before she pulled the needle out. She *freaked* when she saw all the blood running down my arm. I ended up feeling bad for her, she was just beside herself.

  14. Hmm… I think that trainee needs some basic work skills, I knew from my first job waitressing that you don’t let on to the customer you don’t know what you’re doing (even if you really don’t have a clue!). A smile and ‘I’ll just go and check that for you’ goes a long way.

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