Thursday, October 11, 2012

From Bad To Worse: My Worst Blood Draw Experience Ever, Ever

In trying to get to the bottom of my recent flare, I saw my PCP earlier this week and she ordered a bunch of labs.

It seems like I have a lot of issues when it comes to the student health center’s lab techs drawing my blood, but I didn’t really have a choice in the matter.

So I went to the lab, and of course, horror ensued. 

The first stick was a foreshadowing of things to come.  At first nothing came out, then the tech totally blew the vein and promptly a dark, red pool of blood spilled out onto my arm.

“Now it decides to bleed?” says the lab tech.

Really?  Really?    

Normally, each lab tech is only allowed to stick you twice, but for some reason, this particular tech decided to go on a personal crusade, hell-bent on taking my blood.  She ended up sticking me four times.

But that’s not before she got the idea that the reason she was having a hard time was because I was dehydrated.  She made me sit there, drink three large glasses of water and three small cans of orange juice.

No one has ever done this to me before.  It was totally ridiculous, especially because all of that drinking made me really cold. 

And there are some things that phlebotomists should just know, like when someone is freezing cold, it is a lot harder to draw their blood.

So that was a great plan.  

Another tech sticks me once, and I think I’m good to go.

But then they call me the next day and say they need another tube of blood.

Of course they do.  As if the day before wasn’t enough.  The carnage from the day before is still fresh.  If you look at my arms, I look like a drug addict. 

And they want more for me.

Well, I’m not feeling particularly generous at the moment; I don’t have any more to give.

The tech that stuck me the fifth time tells me she let the blood clot and didn’t realize it, and it clogged their machine for an hour.  Her fault.  Why is she telling me this?  I don’t want to know. 

So in case you’re keeping score, that’s six sticks for three tubes of blood.

The student health center needs to be called out on their shit.  I am sick of them only being able to deal well with acutely ill 18 to 22 year olds.  It’s not right. 

As I sat there guzzling water and juice, I heard girls coming in and giving their birthdates, 1990, 1991.  They’re easy.  Just on tube.  And anyway, they have underutilized veins.  They aren’t getting blood drawn all the time, like I am.    

To be honest, I don’t think that some of these lab techs could draw blood if you handed them a glass full of blood.

I guess blood is not that useful once it’s outside of your body, but do you ever want to yell and scream at the lab techs, “Hey, that’s mine!  I want that back!” as you watch it sit in the tube and coagulate?

As I’m leaving the lab the second time, the woman at the desk tells me to take a juice, that I deserve it.

A consolation prize for their incompetence, that I ultimately pay for.

Guess what?  I don’t want any f***ing juice.  Why doesn’t anyone understand that?

I just want them to do their jobs and leave me alone.

I really want to file a complaint.  The behavior of these techs, all around, is just incompetent and unprofessional.  But I’m not sure what good it will do.  I don’t want them to see me coming and run the other way.  But I also don’t want to be treated like I’m causing World War III just for a couple lousy tubes of blood. 

As a patient, I want and deserve respect and compassion, both of which are lacking here. 

I’m getting tired of the system, because the system doesn’t work.  No one is using a holistic approach.  Everything is done in isolation of everything and everyone else.       


  1. Gotta hate the blood draws. Sorry you had such a nasty experience. And sorrier that it's not that uncommon, for all of us with overworked veins.

  2. I also hate blood draws. I break into a cold sweat as they come near me with one. The last time I had one done I was in the middle of a migraine, so I was already sicker than hell. My daughter drove me & went in w/me & she got sick watching-bad idea. I use to work on the ambulance years ago. A good tip, pointless now but if they listen to you next time, use a heating pack on the site for a few minutes to draw your veins up so they can see them better. Still hurts but got by with one stick. And I drank a gallon of water right before we left the house to go there early in the am, that was all I could tolerate-witn my abortive meds and Zofran. But get a couple of those quick heat packs that are quick acting like those disposable ice packs and take them w/you next time in case they are too stupid to know how to use them or where they are stored.

  3. Could totally relate to your post. Looks like side effect of over worked veins. Happens a lot of times when inexperienced lab techs draw the blood.

    Couple weeks back, I even had my IV put up for a contrast MRI ripped off by one of the techs. Blood was oozing out for a while for no fault of mine.

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