Getting blood out of me is like getting blood out of a stone. In my experience, blood collection is synonymous with fiasco. Up front, I let the collector know that my veins are difficult, I kindly point out the best vein for blood collection on my right hand, suggest that they will need to use the smallest butterfly needle and that I usually need to run my hands and wrists under warm water for a few minutes to coax my veins to co-operate.
Without fail, blood collectors immediately ignore all I have just said. I may as well be speaking Finnish for all the interest they show. They grab my nearest limb, place a tourniquet on my upper arm, open up a standard needle and syringe and turn to my inside elbow expecting to find a juicy vein big enough to drive a Mack truck through. To their utmost surprise, they are instead confronted with an expanse of skin and no veins to be seen or even palpated. Not to be deterred from their mission of ignoring helpful advice, they proceed to inspect my other inside elbow too. Slowly realising that in fact, I might not be delusional, they deign to inspect my wrists and hands intermittently moving around the tourniquet, turning my hands this way and that to find a vein that pleases them. Long minutes later they come up with the novel suggestion of running my hands under hot water and using that hopeful looking vein on my right hand. When I return from warming my venous system I discover that they have ingeniously thrown the standard needle and syringe away and have opened a butterfly needle.
It is tedious trying to break through the ego of blood collectors/leeches/vampires. It is also traumatic when they refuse to listen and end up stabbing me multiple times. This plays out too often for my liking. When I‘m admitted in hospital the absolute best case scenario is a blood test every three days and that is only on the days when hell is frozen over.
Thankfully, I have found the one blood collector in the whole wide world who is the exception to this rule. To my eternal surprise, in our first couple of interactions she not only listened to me but learned. Whenever she sees my name on her list she pops her head in about 10 mins prior to collection with two rubber gloves filled with warm water. I pile on layers of clothes, get under the blankets, apply the mini hot water bottles to my hands and think of hot Hawaii. By the time she comes around my veins have popped out nicely and she’s in an out in a jiffy. She gives me as fantastic an experience as you can possibly ask for when sharp instruments are involved. Miracles DO happen!