Saturday, January 06, 2007

No Need to Call 911, I’m A Slow Bleeder

A nice woman from the blood bank called today to ask me if I could donate blood early next week. I said no. Because, while I believe that donating blood is a noble thing to do, I mean, it saves lives and all, the phlebotomist employed by our local hospital cannot seem to squeeze blood from my veins to save his life and I've got a strict policy of not causing myself undue pain. Of course, it took a few bad experiences for me to arrive at that policy.

One time, I ended up with a burst vein, which the phlebotomist dressed with the usual cotton ball and Band-Aid like that was going to do any good. When the wound opened up a half hour later as I was tugging up my pantyhose, the resulting horror movie moment in the bathroom at my workplace caused the secretary to nearly toss her cookies. She tendered her resignation not long after and I am not entirely convinced that it was a coincidence.

You would think that would have taught me my lesson but, you would be wrong. When the call for a donation came again, I went. Disaster ensued.

The same phlebotomist was on duty of course, which got my heart to racing a bit but, ignoring the little voice inside my head, I shrugged off my concerns and settled into the fancy chair and filled out the appropriate paperwork while Mr. Phlebotomist strapped on the pressure cuff and swabbed the inside of my elbow before stabbing me with the enormous needle that they use for such things.

The chosen vein, which had looked so promising only moments earlier decided to roll over and play dead the second the needle penetrated it and, really, who could blame it? How would YOU feel if you were just going about your business, transporting some nice, oxygen-rich blood to vital organs when, WHAM! some sixty-year old joker with jet-black hair and a Hitler mustache- a fake mustache that he obviously draws on with a marker, I might add- stuck you with a needle and proceeded to steal your cargo? Huh? How would that make you feel?

But, I digress.

So, Mr. Phlebotomist “adjusted” the needle which involved ripping the tape off my arm, along with a few hairs (not that I am super hairy. I have perfectly normal womanly hair on my arms. Really. I’m just saying) and then poked the needle around to find a better position. The effort resulted in a somewhat painful vibrating sensation in my arm, a “bubbling” feeling that, clearly, was NOT normal.

When I described the feeling, Mr. Phlebotomist declared it the result of the needle “bouncing against the wall of the vein” and I think I can trace what happened later right back to that moment because no one should ever have to hear that a needle is bouncing about inside their bodies, I don’t care who they are, see above; NOT normal.

Mr. Phlebotomist did not seem terribly concerned with my obvious discomfort, however and instead, pointed out the fact that, with the needle in the new position, I was bleeding much faster. Quite the feat apparently since, he said, “Frankly, my dear, you are a rather slow bleeder which is making this somewhat difficult”.

Well, excuuuuse me.

As I recall, he then told me to just “hang in there” and I tried, I really did but, twenty or thirty minutes later, as the vibrating feeling continued and, as the bag slowly filled beside me, I began to sweat.

So, there I was, sweating on the donation table, when I detected a distinct buzzing sensation throughout my body accompanied by a decided feeling of light-headedness followed by the realization that, dear lord, I might actually need to throw up here. Could you imagine the embarrassment I would have felt if I had?

No worries, though, because, I totally saved myself the disgrace of throwing up in the blood bank by passing out. Right there, in the donation chair.

The phlebotomist was most disturbed by that little turn of events, I assure you. He was also most solicitous with the orange juice and cookies when I eventually came to. Actually, if memory serves, he offered me whiskey, which I, of course, declined.

So, yeah, that was just about a year ago. Care to guess when I might actually brave another attempt at donating?

Yeah, me neither.

On the bright side, being a slow bleeder has its benefits. For one, I probably will not bleed to death on the kitchen floor following a culinary accident.

In addition, vampires would totally have their work cut out for them.

That’s some peace of mind right there.


  1. I do not give blood. I dread blood draws at drs. because no one can get a vein and then it ends up being a big honking fiasco. I really don't want to have another baby solely because I am scared of them trying to place an iv. The nurses can't do it then get all mad at me like I came in there and purposely make my veins lay low to cause them trouble.

    I don't blame you for not seeing same phlebotomist again.

  2. When I gave blood a few months ago, they did this new thing where they cycle your blood out, take out the red cells, then give you part back, the plasma, maybe? I did 4 cycles of that. Dear God, never again. It was like 40 minutes and sucked. Next time, I am going to tell them just to take it all.