Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Word on Phlebotomists...

Here's what NOT to say to the person drawing your blood:

"My left arm is better than my right, but I do have really small veins so my hand is usually a sure bet."

The phlebotomist hears:

"You can't do your job very well so let me tell you how this is going to go down..."

I can't figure this out. I am just trying to be helpful. Phlebotomists begin to sweat when they see my arms; while I am quite robust, my veins are puny, shy things that hide deep in my flesh... really deep. But throughout the past few weeks, I am beginning to see how the veterans are separated from the neophytes.

After my "I-have-small-veins" speech, the neophytes head straight for the butterfly needle (commonly used to draw blood from an infant's head... it's so small) and disinfect my hand, but the veteran will completely ignore me and tie off my right arm and begin sniffing out the best vessel. If the newbie decides to go for my arm they will draw the needle back and forth and side to side perforating my much abused vein and declare "I just... can't... seem... to get it." The master will poke the needle in way more forcefully than you think necessary, and immediately draw a vial.

Today's blood-letting was miraculous in many ways, but the best part of it was the phlebotomist herself: her name was Rose and she was as big as a house and as loud as a fog horn.

When we arrived at the lab there was a long line. If people are getting blood drawn on a Saturday, you know they HAVE to be there. The waiting room was small, and since Rose is most likely incapable of a whisper, everyone's "malady" was made known.

To the teen-aged girl, "Are you capable of urinating?" (They were still standing in the waiting room.) To us it sounded like: "ARE YOU CAPABLE OF URINATING!!?" After a mortified nod of the head Rose went on: "DO YOU THINK YOU COULD PRODUCE SOME URINE RIGHT NOW!!?" The poor girl went ahead, surprisingly not right there in her pants, and we then heard all the instructions on what to do with the sample and a reminder to wash her hands. The girl was unable to face us in the waiting room and waited for her mom outside.

The young boy before me was with his dad. Obviously, if a kid is getting his blood drawn it can't be that good. What we heard through the wall was: "ARE WE TAKING BETS TO SEE OF YOU'LL CRY!!?" Todd and I were agog and aghast buy this point and I was determined to say as very little to her as possible.

But by the time we got in there and she made a million phone calls on our behalf to make sure everything was going to be done on time, I was a fan of large-and-in-charge Rose. She proved herself to be a pro (a master!) and even managed blood out of my right arm. And then to seal the deal, she drew a smiley face on the tape covering my cotton ball... a smiley face. I am grateful Rose was there today.

8 comments:

HappyBack said...

I'm going to start loudly asking people if they can urinate in public settings. I'll start in Sunday School. Raise my hand and ask the teacher. LOUD.

emma jo said...

oooh, I hate that initial moment of the stick of the needle right after they have swabbed the area with stinging alcohol. The are the trooperest trooper I know at the moment. And Rose sound nice in a boisterous likable sort of way. Next time someone asks me if I can urinate right now I'm going to turn around and ask them the same question..."well I don't know, can you?"

andrea said...

i love that you said "agog." it reminds me of les mis... when someone was agog and aghast that marius had found love at last.

i'm glad you didn't have to urinate for rose.

Abby said...

THAT WAS FUNNY! I WANT TO TALK LIKE ROSE NOW. What a cruel thing for her to have a delicate name like that! Congrats on the good blood draw.

Heather and Eric said...

Ahh, phlebotomists... The ones I have encountered either talk non-stop (you know, like chittering, nervous birds), stand up straight and stoic and nod instead of using words (their hands are cold, too), or grab your arm, pull it up to their nose and say, "My, your arm looks like a war zone. Are you a drug addict?"

Suzie Petunia said...

I'm glad Rose took good care of you. I guess you really can never judge a book by its cover... or its loud voice (?) :)

mo said...

Sorry about the small dainty veins--you inherited that from me. I have no problem telling blood suckers that I need the butterfly needle. I have had way too many poking fests take place on my arm to be shy. You are a brave woman and I'm glad there are kind hearted (tho' loud) Roses in the world.

Wendy said...

I've been called a "hard poke" and a "roller" - meaning I've got tiny veins and they like to roll around while they try to poke me (at least that's how I interpreted it). Not to mention I've been known to get queezy and feel faint during the poke session. AND the butterfly is my vein's needle of choice. Rose seems like she could conquer even my veins.