A Bloody Business

Just back from the doctor’s office—the highlight this time was hearing Baby’s heartbeat on doppler: a distinct, speedy thrumming, set against the slower tidal rhythm of my own body.

The lowlight was getting stuck with needles. Again. Every time I see the doctor they want to draw more blood for some test or another. I think I’ve had about a dozen vials taken so far. The blood drawing process itself has established a familiar pattern: I sit down in the little booth. A smiling, fresh-faced young person introduces themselves as a student phlebotomist, and asks if I mind them drawing my blood. I tell them I don’t mind, but I warn them that everybody has trouble finding my veins, and it might be best just to hand me off to the senior person on staff.

They tie the rubber strap around my arm and start tapping my elbow. They make small talk, asking about my weekend plans and so forth. I clench my fist while I answer. They are very very nice, but on the vein front nothing is happening. The nice young person says “hmm”, unwraps the tourniquet, and tries it on the other arm. We repeat the process. They tell me my veins are tiny and refusing to protrude. I tell them I’ve heard this before.

If the nice young person is particularly energetic, they will proceed to stick me with needles, sometimes two or three times before giving up. Sometimes they move to the other elbow, or even my hands. It doesn’t work. Today I was lucky and the nice young person gave up without even trying. Then the nice young person goes and gets the little old asian lady who knows what she’s doing. I don’t know why it’s always a little old asian lady, but I’ve been through this rigmarole several times at two different lab sites, and apparently in San Francisco it’s always a little old asian lady. Today her name was Soong. She doesn’t waste any time with chit chat, just swabs me down and slides the needle in, effortlessly, painlessly. In a few seconds we’re done.

Next time I think I’m going to insist on seeing Soong, or whoever the Soong-equivalent on staff happens to be, from the get go.

4 Responses to “A Bloody Business”

  • Nina Says:

    “a distinct, speedy thrumming, set against the slower tidal rhythm of my own body.”

  • Nina Says:

    “a distinct, speedy thrumming, set against the slower tidal rhythm of my own body.”

    –okay, i tried to put in a heart and it totally choked on the rest of my comment. so, hart. —

    Yes, I think the next time the student asks, the correct answer is “NO”. They’ll get over it. They can start out on someone with easier veins.

  • Dawn Says:

    I don’t recall them taking blood after my initial visit. Do they ever say what they’re testing for?

  • shannon Says:

    This time it was to see if I’d had my rubella vaccination when I was little. There was another test too but I forget what it was for.

    I think the problem in my case is that I’m actually seeing a group of four doctors rather than just one. The idea, which is a nice one, is that I’ll be familiar with several different doctors before I go into labor, so that if “my” doctor happens to be unavailable at the time I’ll still have a familiar face attending me.

    The problem is that I think each doctor has a slightly different idea of which tests they like to do, so each time I see a new one they find some test or another that the other doctors “forgot” to do.

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